UNO volleyball adds local talent for 2014

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May 28th, 2014

Omaha, NE – University of Nebraska at Omaha head coach Rose Shires didn’t waste any time looking for new prospects following the close of last year’s volleyball season.

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UNO won just two of their 14 Summit League games and had a stretch where they lost four of those matches, 12 sets to zero. Shires mentioned players she thought would contribute right away: Sydney O’Shaughnessy, a setter from Omaha Marian and an outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey, who hails from Minnesota.

“I think both of those players will bring immediate, high impact to our program,” Shires said. ”The other three incoming freshman are going to round out our defensive core and I think really pick up the level of our abilities to stay in matches because of exceptional defensive play.”

UNO picked up five new recruits, four from Nebraska and one from Minnesota. Shires said with recruiting potential players, it’s just as important to get to know and even ‘recruit’ the coach as well.

“(The coaches) know their players character, they know what they are about, they know what their make-up is,” Shires said. “It is very important for me in the recruiting process to not just recruit the player, but to recruit the high school or club coach to get to know the psyche of the people I am bringing in. It takes an exceptional person to come in be a part of building something versus something that is established.”

The UNO Volleyball team celebrates after last year's 3-0 victory over North Dakota State. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

The UNO Volleyball team celebrates after last year’s 3-0 victory over North Dakota State. (Photo Courtesy Brandon McDermott)

That is the message Shires is sending to high school players reaching out to UNO. They have a chance to be a part of something that is still in the process of being built from the ground up. Shires has played a big part in making UNO a Division-II powerhouse over the past two decades. This includes the 1996 D-II National title and 442 career wins. With recent move to Division-I in March 2011, Coach Shires was set with a new challenge.

Taking a more nuanced look back, the 2013 UNO volleyball team had plenty of youthful exuberance and inexperience. The Mavericks had just two upper class players last year. Between the two of them, they combined for 38 matches played, but had only 6 starts. Coach Shires said she thinks last year’s raw talent have gained important experience and much more confidence. She said much of that assessment came with the teams showing this spring. The NCAA allows D-I volleyball teams to compete in four one day tournament or matches, according to Shires. These results are not released to the public, but Shires said her team competed very well.

“We are competing with and beating teams that, a year ago, were out of our reach,” Shires said. “So we’ve made significant progress this spring and I think that will carry over to the fall. I think the biggest thing for us is we need to start off on fire. We need to start with wins, competing at a high level and gain that confidence early. Then we would have the ability to sustain that throughout the year.”

UNO opens the 2014-2015 season August 29th with the Omaha Classic. Their first match is against Central Michigan University at the Sapp Fieldhouse.

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