When Title IX was enacted in 1972, the University of Nebraska volleyball program, like many across the country, received a fraction of the funding and attention given to the school’s mighty football program. The players had to organize a run from Lincoln to Omaha to raise money for uniforms. The women were asked to wait their turn to use the weight room. Today the Nebraska women’s volleyball team is one of the sport’s most decorated programs—with more career wins than any other program and five NCAA National Championships—and draws standing-room-only crowds at home games in the 8,000-seat Devaney Center.
Nebraska Volleyball is the first book to recount how volleyball took hold at Nebraska, through Pat Sullivan, the team’s first coach; through such early figures as Cathy Noth, a decorated player and later an assistant coach into the 1990s; through Terry Pettit, who coached the team for twenty-three seasons and led it to its first National Championship in 1995; and through John Cook, who took over as head coach in 2000. John Mabry highlights the small Nebraska towns that have sent some of the best players to the program and helped build statewide support for the team. Public television helped too, with its power to broadcast games early on and thus build a following across the state.
The success of Nebraska’s volleyball program is one of the greatest stories in sports. As Karch Kiraly, head coach for the U.S. National Women’s Volleyball Team, said: “If you want to learn about women’s college volleyball, your first stop has to be Lincoln, Nebraska.”
About the Author
John Mabry was the sports editor for the Lincoln Journal Star from 1997 to 2007. During that time he helped cover the Husker volleyball team at five NCAA Final Fours. He has written more than five hundred features for the Journal Star and its niche publications and is the author of Heart Felt: The Jenna Cooper Story. Jordan Larson led the Husker volleyball team to the NCAA National Championship in 2006 and led the U.S. women’s team to an Olympic gold medal in 2021.
“John Mabry digs deep and brings out the behind-the-scenes stories and characters. While reading his stories of the early days of Nebraska Volleyball, I felt like I was there in person. The timing of this book is so appropriate, with the fifty-year anniversary of Title IX. Anyone who loves volleyball will appreciate this book, and Nebraska volleyball fans will cherish it.”—John Cook, Nebraska volleyball head coach and coauthor of Dream Like a Champion: Wins, Losses, and Leadership the Nebraska Volleyball Way
“John Mabry has documented the history of Nebraska Volleyball with details that will entertain the most enthusiastic fan and those who are interested in a good story. The focus of the book is the love affair the state of Nebraska has for great volleyball.”—Terry Pettit, Nebraska volleyball head coach (1977–99) and University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Famer
“John Mabry has done a beautiful job seeking out people to tell the story of Nebraska Volleyball. John gives value to every story, big or small. A joy to read and relive. . . . Go Big Red!”—Cathy Noth, Nebraska Volleyball player (1981–84), University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Famer, and former U.S. National Team player
“John Mabry has found a way to commemorate the Nebraska volleyball program and its history—not just from a facts-and-figures perspective, but from a human-interest perspective, for it is the people who truly are Nebraska volleyball. . . . It is a pleasure to remember, learn, and rejoice in the many stories John has uncovered.”—Karen Dahlgren Schonewise, Nebraska Volleyball player (1983–86), University of Nebraska Athletic Hall of Famer
“Within these pages John Mabry reveals Nebraska Volleyball’s rich history, its now-legendary figures, and the stories that bring to life this magical fifty-year ride. Bravo, John, for capturing this quintessential Nebraska story of daily hard work building something great. The story of Husker volleyball should fill Nebraskans with pride and inspire all those who understand it.”—John Baylor, play-by-play radio announcer for Nebraska Volleyball since 1994
“How are great programs built? The bold ideas and big wins are always well known, but there are also hundreds of small decisions and personal stories powering any dynasty. Nebraska Volleyball digs into the details, offering a comprehensive look at why the Huskers are what they are—a program that stands among the greats in any sport.”—Brandon Vogel, managing editor of Hail Varsity and coauthor of Dream Like A Champion