Husker Volleyball's Queens of the Court

With three national championships, and four Olympic athletes, Nebraska volleyball’s storied program is hard to match.

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The volleyball journey for Lauren Cook has had many dramatic twists and turns. It began in 2009, when as a freshman she was on the opposite side against her father, leading UCLA to victory over Nebraska before 13,780 fans at the Devaney Center that not only broke the NCAA attendance record for a regular season volleyball match but also snapped UNL’s home winning streak at 90 matches.

Lauren was named the MVP of that tournament, but the former star at Lincoln’s Pius X regretted every second away from Nebraska. At the end of her stellar freshman season she transferred back home, and three years later helped lead the revenge win against that UCLA team that she once led to victory over her beloved Huskers.

“When I was at UCLA I was comparing everything to Nebraska,” Lauren said, “and there’s just no way they compare. You’re like rock stars here.”

But the biggest ordeal of her career came late last season off the court, when the Nebraska star landed in court. She was arrested for sideswiping a parked motorcycle in her parents’ SUV that left the driver with a broken leg. The highly publicized case came to a sudden stop when a hit-and-run felony charge was dropped after the prosecution agreed to a plea deal.

“I’ve been through a lot of struggles and I’ve gone through a lot of positive times,” Lauren said. “I’ve grown from all of it and I’ve learned from all it. I’m really happy with the person that I am today.”

Now perhaps the most bittersweet moment of his long coaching journey approaches. Cook soon must bid a final farewell to his senior daughter.

“I think about it every day,” he said. “I just appreciate who she is as a leader on our team and I really appreciate how good a player she is.”

Lauren jokes that while Dad runs the show on the court, she gets a mouthful of volleyball advice at the dinner table from her mom, who was a two-time All-American setter. But beyond the jokes, there will certainly be some tears when she serves that final ball up for her dad.

Perhaps father and daughter will treat each other to a precious Christmas gift by winning UNL’s fourth national title in mid-December in Louisville, Ky.

After all, Santa must be a Big Red fan.

One of the high-energy leaders for UNL is senior Hannah Werth, who holds the 10-yard-dash team record at 1.55 seconds.

(This story originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine)

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