Category Archives: Huskers News

Luke Roskam’s grand slam homer powers Husker men to 7-6 victory over Northwestern State

LINCOLN — Luke Roskam’s grand slam powered a six-run third inning and the Nebraska bullpen and defense were nearly flawless in a 7-6 victory to wrap up a two-game series with Northwestern State on Sunday.

The Huskers (11-8) went without an error for just the third time in their last 15 games while three relievers combined to shut out the Demons over the final four innings. Zac Repinski turned in a three-hit day batting out of the leadoff spot as the offense did enough to help NU starter Matt Warren to his third win of the spring.

Nebraska wraps up an eight-game homestand with a 5-3 mark and continues its nonconference schedule with a two-game set at Oral Roberts beginning Tuesday. The Big Red returns home to open Big Ten play on Friday against Minnesota.

One day after defensive lapses did in the Huskers in a 6-2 loss, they bounced back to extend their Sunday unbeaten streak to 16 straight games.

Nebraska ran out to a seemingly comfortable lead with a six-run third inning that saw six hits and 10 batters come to the plate. Mojo Hagge’s RBI groundout and Scott Schreiber’s scoring shot up the middle put the Huskers on the board. Then a Jesse Wilkening single and Angelo Altavilla walk loaded the bases for Roskam, who promptly hammered a 2-2 offering over the wall in right-center field for his first home run of the spring to chase NWSU ace Ridge Heisler.

An Angelo Altavilla sacrifice fly in the seventh pushed the Husker lead to 7-5 when Hagge slid around the tag at home from right fielder Tyler Smith, who threw out a runner there in the first inning.

Warren still hasn’t lasted six innings this season and again wore down late, allowing five total runs in the fourth and fifth frames.

Nebraska beach volleyball loses three matches Saturday at Hawaii Invitational

HONOLULU — Nebraska’s beach volleyball team struggled in the first day of the Outrigger Resorts Hawaii Invitational on Queen’s Beach on Saturday, suffering a three-match sweep at the hands of No. 5 Hawaii, No. 12 Grand Canyon and No. 3 USC.

The Huskers (3-7) were swept 5-0 by both Hawaii and USC, but pushed Grand Canyon, losing 3-2.

Kenzie Maloney and Annika Albrecht swept GCU’s Katie Pyles and Jessica Clark 21-19, 21-18 for NU’s first match win.

Lauren Stivrins and Kelly Hunter also won at the No. 1 spot, claiming a three-set win over Molly Turner and Kelli Iverson, 21-19, 11-21, 15-13.

The Huskers will continue the tournament on Sunday with matches against the same teams.

Huskers show ‘grit and a lot of heart’ at NCAA wrestling championships

CLEVELAND — Mark Manning says you’re never too young to win, and that was the case for his Nebraska wrestling team this weekend.

A strong showing through the consolation bracket earned Nebraska three All-Americans, including a pair of top-four finishes at the NCAA championships.

“At the NCAAs, you have ups and downs, but I thought we got stronger as the tournament went on,” the NU coach said. “I thought our guys showed a lot of grit and a lot of heart.”

Junior Tyler Berger picked up two more wins Saturday to finish in third place in the 157-pound weight class. Berger recorded a takedown in sudden victory-1 for a 4-2 decision over Ohio State’s Micah Jordan, then in the third-place match, Berger won by injury default over Iowa’s Michael Kemerer.

Berger, a two-time All-American who placed fifth at nationals last year, had a 6-1 record at nationals this year. His only loss came to top-seeded Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State by one point. Berger, ranked 13th at InterMat entering nationals, beat four opponents ranked in the top 11.

Nebraska’s other All-Americans were redshirt freshmen Taylor Venz at 184 and CJ Red at 141.

On Saturday, Venz defeated Zachary Zavatsky of Virginia Tech 7-3 to reach the third-place match. He then dropped an 8-1 decision to Emory Parker of Illinois.

Venz, who defeated four ranked opponents at nationals, is the highest-placing Husker freshman since 1999 when current assistant coach Bryan Snyder finished fourth.

Red won his lone match Saturday to finish seventh as he pinned Eastern Michigan’s Sa’Derian Perry. Red, who lost his opening match, ended up with a 5-2 record for the week.

“We had a tremendous night last night and tremendous day today,” Manning said. “Young guys are growing up and learning to win on this level.”​

Kaylan Jablonski hits three homers in Nebraska softball’s victory over Cal State Fullerton

FULLERTON, Calif. — Kaylan Jablonski tied a school and Big Ten record Saturday with three home runs in Nebraska’s 7-1 softball victory over Cal State Fullerton at the Easton Invitational.

The senior from Omaha Skutt also was the winning pitcher, running the Huskers’ record to 19-9. Jablonski is now 12-5 after giving up one run, walking one batter and striking out four.

Jablonski is the second player in program history to hit three home runs in a single game. It was first accomplished by Christie McCoy on April 18, 1998. Jablonski became the 12th Big Ten player, and first since 2015, to accomplish the feat.

Nebraska scored five runs in the first inning — the first two courtesy of Jablonski’s first homer and the last three on a three-run home run by Taylor Otte. Jablonski’s second home run was a leadoff blast in the third inning, and her record-tying shot came in the top of the seventh inning.

The Huskers lost their first game of the day in an 8-0, six-inning game against No. 5 Oklahoma. Winning pitcher Paige Parker gave up two hits while the Sooners got 10 hits off three NU pitchers, including six off Olivia Ferrell in two innings.

A noon game against DePaul on Sunday will wrap up the Huskers’ appearance in their last nonconference tournament of the season.

Nebraska (19-9)………………………501 000 1—7 7 0

At Cal State Fullerton (12-16)…….000 001 0—1 11 1

W-Kaylan Jablonski (12-5). L-Hannah Johnson (1-4). HR-N, Jablonski (3). A-387.

Nebraska (18-9)………000 000—0 2 1

Oklahoma (22-2)……..150 002—8 10 0

W-Paige Parker (12-1). L-Olivia Ferrell (6-3). 2B-OU, Nicole Pendley, Shay Knighten. HR-OU, Sydney Romero, Jocelyn Alo.

Nebraska remains proud of ‘special’ season despite first-round exit from NCAA tournament

AUSTIN, Texas — Nebraska’s season of restoration is over.

Arizona State broke open a close game with a 14-2 push during the final five minutes of the third quarter, defeating the Huskers 73-62 Saturday in the opening round of the Kansas City Region.

Nebraska finished with a 21-11 record after winning just seven games last season, Amy Williams’ first as coach.

Now, after an astounding turnaround but a disappointing dismissal from the tournament, the Huskers are left to apply context to their season.

“It’s very difficult to do that,” Williams said. “I told our players in the locker room that, ‘You can let this sting for a little while, but permanently we are gonna hold our heads up high.’ We’re not gonna have this be the final taste in our mouth. We are gonna walk away being very, very proud of the progress that was made for our program.”

Guard Robbi Ryan led Arizona State (22-12), seeded seventh in the region, with 16 points. Omaha Benson graduate Kianna Ibis scored 14 for the Devils.

Janay Morton led 10th-seeded Nebraska with a season-best 16 points. Taylor Kissinger scored 15 off the bench.

Maddie Simon, the team’s second-leading scorer this season, spent most of the game in foul trouble, finishing scoreless with no rebounds and four fouls in 15 minutes. Simon averaged 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds before Saturday.

Arizona State outrebounded Nebraska 49-27, turning 21 offensive boards into 16 second-chance points.

“I think they just relentlessly pursued the ball on every shot, whether it was offensively or defensively,” Morton said.

Simon’s foul difficulty didn’t help.

“I really felt like Maddie was gonna be a key for today’s game,” Williams said. “Today at shootaround we said, ‘We need you to strive to come away with 10 rebounds.’ Unfortunately, Maddie was saddled with foul trouble the whole game. Not only did she not come away with 10, but she had the goose egg.”

Arizona State outrebounded opponents by seven a game this season. Even so, coach Charli Turner Thorne was dissatisfied coming into the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils were only at plus-two in their most recent game, a loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament. They paid a price for that in practice.

“If anybody didn’t hit a rebounding spot or missed a box out, the entire team did five push-ups,” Turner Thorne said. “We did a lot of push-ups.”

Nebraska trailed by nine after a 3-point basket by Morton with two minutes remaining. But Jasmine Cincore was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul with 1:23 left, after originally being called for a common offensive foul, giving Arizona State two free throws and possession. Officials reviewed the first call on replay.

Hannah Whitish (12 points) made two consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving the Huskers a three-point lead.

But Arizona State responded with a 14-0 push before Nebraska made two late free throws to trail by 11 at the end of the period. The Huskers did not make a field goal during the final 5:33 of the quarter.

The difference?

“They were aggressive the entire game, but I think they stepped it up a little bit,” Whitish said. “But we had our looks.”

Nebraska converted 37.3 percent of its field-goal attempts in the game, missing 8 of 12 in the third quarter. The Huskers missed their last six field-goal attempts of the quarter and committed turnovers on two straight possessions during that stretch.

“Just a fire kind of went under our butts and we decided we needed to ramp up the pressure defensively and ramp up the energy,” Arizona State forward Jamie Ruden said.

Largely because of that, now comes a time of reflection for Nebraska.

“This season was something special,” Whitish said. “Especially with the season we had last year.”

Miscues cost Nebraska as Huskers suffer fifth loss in 10 games

LINCOLN — There are vagaries of baseball Darin Erstad can stomach. Outs on the basepaths made by aggressive runners, for example. Or the ebbs and flows of offenses from game to game.

But when the Nebraska baseball coach saw his first commandment being violated in the ninth inning of a sloppy 6-2 loss to Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon, he had enough. Twice the Huskers couldn’t handle bunts, which led to three unearned runs that sucked any drama from the series opener at a chilly Haymarket Park that felt even colder after the final out.

“I told them, the No. 1 thing we write down is we don’t get beat by bunting,” Erstad said. “We take that away. And to see that happen is very frustrating.”

A pair of defensive plays Nebraska couldn’t make in the seventh inning gave the Demons their first lead after NU starting pitcher Luis Alvarado went five strong frames and left with a 2-1 advantage. The Huskers (10-8) didn’t seriously threaten after falling behind despite leaving at least one runner on base in every inning.

Nebraska had been 7-1 this season and 176-18 under Erstad when leading after the sixth. This time, more shaky defense and bullpen struggles conspired against the Huskers as they dropped their fifth series opener in six tries this spring.

The Huskers, who are unbeaten in its past 15 Sunday games, will try to avoid dropping their fourth game in Lincoln during an eight-game homestand when the rain-shortened two-game series concludes starting at 11:05 a.m.

“Our performance (Sunday) will say a lot about who we are as a team,” NU sophomore outfielder Mojo Hagge said. “So I think coming out (Sunday), playing a solid defensive game and hitting all over the ball field, I think it will really show who we are.

“… It’s just trying to figure out how to deliver that first punch. And once we figure that out, I think things will go well for us.”

Saturday’s contest featured 29 hits — 28 of them singles — on a brisk and windy midafternoon. The turning point came in the seventh, when a one-out fly ball to right-center bounced off and between a pair of Nebraska outfielders for an RBI double following a leadoff hit. With two away, second baseman Alex Henwood couldn’t scoop and throw a slow roller up the middle as a Demon scored from third to put Northwestern State up for the first time at 3-2.

Northwestern State (11-7) added three unearned insurance runs in an ugly top of the ninth made possible when first baseman Zac Repinski and reliever Nate Fisher collided on a popped up sacrifice bunt. A bunt hit by No. 9 hitter Sam Taylor down the third base line set up a David Fry sac fly and two-RBI single by No. 3 hitter Luke Watson.

“Bunt defense, we work on that more than anything,” Erstad said. “It’s just disappointing to see that falter like it did. We’re making too many mistakes from time to time and it’s costing us.”

Husker hitters pounded NWSU starter Nathan Jones early and often, beginning when leadoff hitter Hagge lined sharply back to the pitcher. After Repinski and Angelo Altavilla singled, Scott Schreiber lined a ball into left to put Nebraska ahead 1-0.

Three more singles in the second inning — highlighted by a Hagge RBI hit — turned into another Nebraska run and a 2-0 lead.

But the Huskers didn’t score again and ended 3 of 13 with runners in scoring position. A bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth fizzled when Jaxon Hallmark was thrown out at home on a pitch that leaked away from the plate and Repinski struck out looking. They stranded two more in the fifth when Hallmark grounded out following two-out knocks by Jesse Wilkening and Luke Roskam.

Jones lasted a season-low 3 1/3 innings, but three relievers pitched a shutout the rest of the way for the squad from central Louisiana.

“We had 14 hits and we still only put up two runs,” said Hagge, who was thrown out at third to end the sixth while trying to stretch a Repinski single into two bases. “So it’s just executing what we need to and we’ll see how things go (Sunday). Come out with a fire.”

Alvarado went five innings — his second-shortest outing in his five starts — while allowing seven hits, striking out three and walking none on 71 pitches. Erstad said the ace could have gone longer but said he wanted to keep Alvarado fresh for the Big Ten opener next weekend at home against Minnesota. With Friday’s rainout pushing his start to Saturday, the senior will have one fewer day to recover.

The move also turned into an opportunity for Fisher, who had been scratched from the rotation for this series after starting the previous two weekends. But the junior lefty gave up the lead in the seventh and ultimately allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 relief innings to take the loss.

“Nate’s going to have to find a way to get some people out,” Erstad said. “Gotta get outs.”

Hagge led the offense with a 3-for-5 day, and Schreiber went 2 for 5 to extend his recent hot streak to 12 for his past 21.

But the defensive problems continued. Nebraska committed at least one error for a 12th time in its past 14 games and entered the weekend 189th nationally in fielding percentage. Erstad said some of those struggles are a result of trying to put the best offensive lineup together or breaking in inexperienced players.

“It’s one of those things where we gotta hit the reset button and get back on them,” Erstad said. “But I just remind them of the foundation of things we do.”

Three Nebraska wrestlers gain All-America honors at NCAA wrestling championships

CLEVELAND — Three Huskers secured All-America status Friday night at the NCAA wrestling championships.

After losing a one-point decision in the quarterfinals early Friday, junior Tyler Berger won twice in the consolation bracket at 157 pounds to become an All-American for the second straight year. At 184, freshman Taylor Venz won three consolation matches to become an All-American.

Another freshman, CJ Red at 141, became an All-American by pinning defending national champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State in the round of 12.

Those three will wrestle for placement on Saturday. It’s the seventh straight season that the Huskers have had multiple All-Americans.

Just missing out on All-America status was Isaiah White at 165 as he lost in a tiebreaker in the round of 12. NU teammates Colton McCrystal and Eric Schultz bowed out earlier in the day.

In the team standings, NU has 34 points and is in 14th place. Penn State leads, followed by Ohio State and Iowa. Iowa freshman Spencer Lee will wrestle in the 125-pound final Saturday night.

Nebraska softball splits Friday doubleheader, snapping seven-game winning streak

Fullerton, Calif. — Nebraska ran its softball winning streak to seven games Friday before it ended with a thud in a 10-5 loss to Cal State Northridge on the first day of Cal State Fullerton’s Easton Invitational.

Kaylan Jablonski earned the victory in the opener with a complete game to improve her season record to 11-5. The senior from Omaha Skutt also accounted for three of Nebraska’s seven hits and scored one run.

The Huskers then got rocked by the Matadors in the nightcap as Northridge roughed up three Nebraska pitchers for 15 hits. Freshman Olivia Ferrell took the loss, pitching 4⅓ innings, giving up 10 hits — including two home runs and seven earned runs.

Junior college transfer Regan Mergele gave up four hits and two runs in 1⅔ innings of work, and Sydney McLeod pitched the seventh inning and gave up the final run. Northridge pitcher Taylor Troost moved her record to 4-7 by pitching 5⅓ innings and giving up just one run on seven hits.

After the 11-20 Matadors scored three runs in the top of the first inning, the Huskers battled back to score four runs in the bottom of the second via two-run home runs by Taylor Otte and Tristen Edwards, who also slugged two doubles.

Northridge bounced back and scored two runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before putting up their 10th and final run in the top of the seventh. The Huskers twice left the bases loaded and were just 5 of 17 with runners in scoring position.

The Huskers are scheduled to play two more games Saturday — at 12:30 p.m. against No. 5 Oklahoma before a 5:30 p.m. showdown against the host Titans.

Cal State Northridge (11-20)……300 222 1—10 15 1

Nebraska (18-8)……………………..040 000 1—5 11 0

W-Taylor Troost (4-7). L-Olivia Ferrell (6-2). 2B-CSUN, S. Horvath (2), R. Jaime, H, Gonzalez; N, Tristen Edwards (2). HR-CSUN, M. Stevens, Jaime, Gonzalez; N, Taylor Otte, Edwards.

Grand Canyon (16-15)………000 000 1—1 8 0

Nebraska (18-7)…………….101 020 x—4 7 1

W-Kaylan Jablonski (11-5). L-Brianna Aguilar (8-9). 2B-GC, Jordon Keeton; N, Ally Riley.

Huskers get first taste of early-morning practices that will be common under Scott Frost

LINCOLN — Scott Frost is a coffee guy. He puts little a “foo foo” in it, but it does the trick.

Nebraska’s new football coach had to have a few cups Friday morning. His first spring practice began before sunrise. Some of his players were on site by 4 a.m., and two hours later they were on the field. In helmets and shorts, they practiced in the brisk, fast-paced style Frost prefers.

By the time you turned on your work computer, practice No. 1 of the Frost era was in the books.

Practice No. 2 won’t be until March 27. After spring break.

“I thought it was good to get these guys a taste of what practice is like before spring break,” Frost said. “Hopefully that will discourage a little extracurricular activity for spring break if they know they have to come back and work like this.”

Frost liked the work players did, as well. Good “effort and enthusiasm,” Frost said. By holding a practice this week, Nebraska was able to schedule position meetings with players beforehand, which prepared them for NU’s new schemes on offense and defense.

Because Frost’s staff has worked together for two straight years — he brought all his assistants from Central Florida — they were ahead of the curve, too.

“This was quite a bit better first day than we had on our first day down there,” Frost said. “I think the guys were a little bit more mentally prepared for it. As coaches, we were more prepared because we had been through this process before. I was really impressed with the execution.”

Frost is bullish on morning practices, although this particular workout was earlier than he preferred because of class schedules. He’d like Nebraska to use morning workouts in the fall, too, in part to help players prepare for Saturday games.

Frost said morning practices make players “better students and better citizens on campus.”

“I was a decent student, but if there was a choice to get up and go to class or stay in bed, sometimes I made the wrong choice,” Frost said. “None of these guys are going to miss practice. We’re going to get them up and get them moving. They’ll have better attendance in classes and they’ll have better attentiveness in classes and these guys are going to flourish on and off the field better because of it.”

Frost said he didn’t reflect too much on being back at NU, although, when he saw the N at practice, it struck him that he’s head coach at his alma mater.

“Once you get on that field and practice starts, it’s practice, and I could be in Siberia and Yemen, for all I know, it’s practice,” Frost said. “But when we take time to step back and look at things, being back here in Lincoln, it’s pretty special to me.”

Experienced Huskers embracing leadership

LINCOLN — Upperclassmen are going all in with the new coaching staff, coach Scott Frost said Friday morning, and those players will continue to be key as Nebraska makes a transition to new schemes on offense and defense this spring.

Offensive lineman Jerald Foster (senior), defensive linemen Mick Stoltenberg (senior) and Ben Stille (sophomore) and wide receiver Stanley Morgan (senior) were Huskers that Frost mentioned by name during his media chat inside the Hawks Center.

“We have some older guys that have bought in, and that’s important because those have to be the guys that are holding everybody else accountable,” Frost said. “But there’s nothing better as an athlete or just as a human being than being part of something that’s bigger than just yourself. And I think these guys are starting to feel that we’ll keep building it.”

Asked about Morgan, Frost called the wideout “a real guy” and “what we want in this offense.” Morgan considered declaring for the NFL draft but decided to return to school after recording team-highs in catches (61), receiving yards (a school-record 986) and receiving touchdowns (10) last season.

Shedding light on FNL camps

Nebraska announced the return of its Friday Night Lights camp earlier this week. On Friday, Frost said he hopes the format can be like what it had become under former coach Mike Riley.

“The one thing we gotta determine yet is if the (Memorial Stadium) lights are going to be ready,” Frost said. “They’re working on the lights this summer and we gotta make sure we have the lights so we can make it Friday Night Lights. We’re looking to have a similar structure to what they had.”

That also includes allowing fans to watch, which they did in droves the last two summers after Riley’s staff began FNL in 2015.

“I heard about that last year,” Frost said. “Nebraska fans, if we have something that’s open to them, they’re going to come. I know that, and that can be a real benefit to us in recruiting.”

Individual camps are set for June 6 and 7, with the Friday Night Lights camp June 15. A 7-on-7 camp and “Down in the Trenches” session — featuring offensive and defensive linemen in half pads — will both go June 16.

An assist to Vedral

The quarterbacks looked good on the first day of practice, Scott Frost said. But the best one on this day happened to be a walk-on.

Noah Vedral should know the new offense better considering he spent a year in the system at Central Florida last year, Frost said. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound graduate of Wahoo Neumann is sitting out this year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and is expected to earn a scholarship by the 2019 season.

He served as the Knights’ backup last fall, completing 22 of 29 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown, along with 77 rushing yards and two scores in eight games.

“You can kind of see that polish and that refinement and just the ease with which he sees things and makes decisions,” Frost said. “He’s been a big piece of our installation because he’s able to be out here with the guys when we’re not. And if there’s any questions, Noah knows the answer to them.”

Nebraska volleyball hires BYU’s Jaylen Reyes as assistant to replace Tyler Hildebrand

Nebraska has hired BYU’s Jaylen Reyes as an assistant volleyball coach, John Cook announced Friday.

Reyes replaces Tyler Hildebrand, who left NU last month for a director position with USA Beach Volleyball. Reyes, who also played at BYU, has been an assistant with the men’s program there for the last three seasons. His duties with BYU included player development and he also served as recruiting coordinator.

Cook said in a press release he reached out to one of his “closest advisers in the volleyball world,” who recommended the “rising star” Reyes. He said Reyes separated himself from other candidates during the interview process.

“We wanted someone who was willing to crawl here just like Andy Dufresne in the movie, ‘The Shawshank Redemption,'” Cook said. “Our players and the Husker Nation will love his energy, passion and ability to teach the game.”

Reyes will join the Husker program at the conclusion of the BYU men’s volleyball season next month. He will fill Hildebrand’s role on the NU staff, coordinating game plans and scouting reports while assisting in coaching all positions.

“I would like to thank Coach Cook for this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Nebraska volleyball family,” Reyes said in a press release. “I look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Reyes helped lead BYU to the national championship match each of the last two seasons. He coached four AVCA All-Americans during that span.

Reyes was BYU’s starting libero from 2012-15, receiving All-America honorable mention as a senior. He’s the program’s leader in games played (431) and second in career digs (762).

He’s the son of a volleyball coach. His dad, Tino Reyes, was head women’s volleyball coach at Hawaii from 2010-15 and spent 17 years as associate head coach of the school’s men’s program.

 “Jaylen has grown up in a gym,” Cook said. “Coaching volleyball is in his DNA.”