By: Jeff Milby –
For the volleyball team, there are lots of changes to take into account ahead of the 2017 season.
For one, there’s a new woman in charge; former Nebraska assistant Dani Busboom Kelly was announced as head coach last November.
But there is also a change in scenery. The days of playing in the cavernous KFC Yum! Center downtown are over. Now, Cardinal volleyball will call the newly renovated Cardinal Arena home, located in the Student Activities Center on campus.
“I really think the public is going to be super fired up to see Cardinal Arena,” Busboom Kelly said at media day. “It’s gonna be one of the best volleyball venues in the country.”
The smaller, more intimate arena will now exclusively be the home to Cardinal Volleyball. Women’s basketball, which previously had practiced at the arena, moved its business down Floyd St. into the Yum! Center practice facility. Included in the $600,000 renovations to Cardinal Arena are a team room, video room, training room, locker room and a weight room, all specific to the volleyball team.
“We call it, ‘the volleyball compound’,” Busboom Kelly said of the new, volleyball-only facility.
Busboom Kelly says that she has already seen the effect the exclusivity has on recruits.
“It’s pretty impressive to show that,” the Nebraska-alum said of a facility purpose-built for the sport. “(Recruits) go other places … other sports are (also) using the facility.”
Current players are impressed and pleased with the move as well.
“I cannot tell you how excited every single girl is to play in that gym,” senior Tess Clark said. “It’s going to be electric.”
Heading into her final year playing for the Cardinals, Clark says she has to handle her emotions, especially with all the changes.
“A new coaching staff and a new facility, it can be a lot at once,” the preseason All-ACC selection said of the transition. “But it’s worked out for the best.”
The team is expecting the renovations to translate into an intimidating environment for visitors, especially with the addition of balcony seating over the endzones of the court.
“It really closes in the gym,” Busboom Kelly said of the new balcony seats. “For opposing teams, it’s gonna be a nightmare to play there. You’re gonna have fans surrounding you the entire way.”
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