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NU volleyball seniors Kubik, Knuckles won’t return next season

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Nebraska’s Madi Kubik (from left), Kenzie Knuckles, Bekka Allick, and Lexi Rodriguez celebrate a point during their game against Stanford at Devaney Sports Center on Sept. 13. Kubik and Knuckles will not be returning to the Huskers next season.

LINCOLN -- Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook says the team has some face-of the program players right now – Nicklin Hames has played setter for the Huskers for five years and Madi Kubik and Kenzie Knuckles each have four years at Nebraska -- but that will be changing after the season ends in December.

Kubik and Knuckles each plan to end their college careers after this season, they each said on Tuesday ahead of their Senior Night matches on Saturday.

So all four players in the senior class – super-seniors Kailtyn Hord and Hames and seniors Kubik and Knuckles – will probably be done after this season.

Kubik and Knuckles may have had the option to return due to the NCAA giving an extra year of eligibility for players who participated in the COVID-19 season.

Last spring Kubik said the 2022 season would likley be her only season being on the team with her younger sister, freshman outside hitter Hayden Kuibk, and that decision has been solidified now.

“I think I will not be returning after this season,” the four-year starter and third-team All-American said. “I think it’s been great. I’ve talked a lot about with coach (Cook) and teammates and staff. I think it’s been an awesome four years that I’ve got to compete here and I’ve absolutely loved my career. I’m really excited for our younger players to get to be leaders in the program.”

Kubik will have options to play professional volleyball, both overseas and in the United States.

Knuckles has also played four years and been key to several great defenses for the Huskers both as libero and defensive specialist.

“It was a tough decision, but I met with (Cook) multiple times about it,” Knuckles said. “I have absolutely loved this program. It’s like a family to me, and it’s so hard saying goodbye to it. But I just think that after 4½ years I think that the time has come. Me and Madi got here together, and we’re going to leave together.”

In recent seasons seniors Lauren Stivrins, Lexi Sun and Hames waited to make their final decision about using their fifth seasons until after the season ended.

Knuckles said it’s nice to have the decision done, and she'll focus on not having any regrets during the final few weeks of her college career.

“I’m just going to go leave it all out there,” Knuckles said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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