Nebraska volleyball head coach John Cook announced the addition of three student-athletes to the Husker volleyball program for the 2018 season on Friday. Former Husker setter Brooke Smith will return to the program for her senior season, while junior setter Mari Kurkova and freshman defensive specialist/libero Chen Abramovich will also join the defending NCAA and Big Ten champion Huskers.
Smith was a back-up setter as a freshman for the Huskers in 2015 during NU’s national title run, and she was a serving specialist in 2016, producing nine aces in 18 matches played in her two seasons at Nebraska. The 5-10 Weatherford, Texas native transferred to Kansas State for the 2017 season, where she split time at setter and averaged 4.71 assists per set and 1.71 digs per set. She was second on the team with 27 total aces and led the team in aces per set with 0.27. Smith, who will train as a setter, had a season-high 29 assists in a five-set match at Georgia Tech on Sept. 8, and she had three double-doubles on the 2017 season.
“Brooke found out she missed Nebraska and the relationships she built in her first two years here,” Cook said. “She is a great addition to our team because she is such a hard worker, great teammate and a player everyone really respects. We are very excited to have Brooke back for her final season.”
Kurkova is a native of Opava, Czech Republic and played club volleyball for PVK Olymp Praha while attending Přípotoční High School. A 5-11 setter, Kurkova has been a part of the Czech Republic women’s national team and played in the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix. Kurkova played with the Czech Republic women’s national team in the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix and was part of the U20 team that competed in the 2015 World Championship. Kurkova, who has completed a bachelor’s degree, will be a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility.
“After Hunter Atherton’s transfer we began looking for another setter, and we found out about Mari and started the process,” Cook said. “She is unique in that she is a grad student, so she will be working on a master’s degree for the next two years. We felt that she would be a good fit at Nebraska because she has experience, she knows what she wants, and there is also a great Czech population in the state of Nebraska.”
Abramovich is a 5-6 freshman defensive specialist/libero from Kfar Saba, Israel. She played club volleyball for Hapoel Kfar Saba last season and led her team to the ISR National Championship. Hapoel Kfar Saba reached the second round of the CEV Champions League and finished 16th in the CEV Volleyball Cup. Abramovich competed with the Israel Junior National Team at the 2016 European Championship.
“Chen approached us about playing volleyball at Nebraska once she completed her army commitment,” Cook said. “Chen comes from a strong volleyball family, and her mom is a national hero for starting the Mother’s Volleyball League in Israel, and now it has spread all over the world. Chen played in a league that played with international rules where the libero is not allowed to serve, but she has seen a lot of tough serves and will be a great addition to our back row.”
The Huskers begin the 2018 season with the Red/White Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at Huskers.com/tickets or by calling 402-472-3111.