- Associated Press - Monday, August 8, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska volleyball team motto in 2015 was “Dream Big,” and the Cornhuskers won the national championship.

Coach John Cook showed up at media day Monday wearing a T-shirt that read “Dream Bigger.”

So how do you top a national title?

“This group has yet to win the Big Ten. No (Nebraska) team’s ever won back-to-back national championships,” Cook said. “So those are the ways this team will be judged and what we’re going for.”

The Huskers, who finished 32-4 and were second behind Minnesota in the Big Ten, are set up to make another title run.

They return first-team All-America outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen and her twin sister, second-team All-America middle blocker Amber Rolfzen, along with the Big Ten defensive player of the year in libero Justine Wong-Orantes. They also have back the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player in outside hitter Mikaela Foecke and starting setter and team captain Kelly Hunter.

The Huskers have experienced newcomers in middle blocker Briana Holman and outside hitter Andie Malloy. Holman was a 2014 first-team All-American at LSU and is eligible after sitting out last season because LSU didn’t grant her a scholarship release. Malloy, a graduate transfer from Baylor, was a two-time All-Big 12 first-team selection.

“It’s a new season, new year, new team,” Wong-Orantes said. “We have a lot of returners, but essentially it’s a new team with the addition of freshmen and Bri being able to play.”

Yet the Huskers, who won the national title in Omaha before record-setting crowds, aren’t afraid to loudly state their goals of winning the program’s first Big Ten title championship since 2011 and playing for another national title, this time in Columbus, Ohio.

“We had to set that out there so we didn’t rest on, ‘OK, we won the national championship in Omaha. Great, let’s go on cruise control,’ ” Cook said. “We have to set the bar higher, to go after something, to motivate them. That’s how we roll.”

Nebraska was among nine Big Ten teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year, with the Huskers and Minnesota reaching the semifinals.

“The Big Ten is harder to win than the national championship because it’s over 10 weeks,” Cook said.

Kadie Rolfzen said the Huskers could have an advantage in conference play because of their depth of experience.

“That can go a long way for the majority of us who have played in the Big Ten,” she said. “We’re going to have players who have played against the Big Ten for three or four years. Other teams will have some new players. We know the grind, day-in and day-out, and what it takes to get to the top.”

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