Bekka Allick on Nebraska: 'We choose each other every day'
Bekka Allick has big dreams. She fell short in 2022, but thanks to her hard work and a team of women playing for one another, Allick's dreams are closer to reality than ever.
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Bekka Allick still remembers how it felt. Nebraska had just lost to Oregon in five sets, 25-14, 24-26, 25-22, 30-32, 11-15, in the regional semifinal of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The loss ended the Huskers’ nation-leading streak of 10 straight NCAA regional final appearances.
“I thought we played our hearts out,” Coach John Cook said at the time. “Sometimes that’s how those things go.”
As Nebraska moved forward toward the 2023 season, Allick tried to process what happened. She felt defeated. Thinking about that moment — that loss — triggered a feeling of anxiety she couldn’t perfectly explain.
Instead of running from it, Allick faced that feeling head on.
“Just in the beginning, it can feel impossible,” Allick said. “But there's one thing that I promised myself this year that I was going to be more honest. I wanted to work harder to invest into the relationships around me because when we lost to Oregon, we got out-teamed. I still believe that we were better skillfully, but we got out-teamed.
“That's what it's going to be when it comes down to the Final Four and the championship: who is the better team and who works better as a unit? Last year still kind of haunts me but I've talked with them about that.”
“Them” being this year’s team, including outside hitter Merritt Beason who transferred to Nebraska from Florida following the 2022 season. Allick’s feelings about how last season ended became a topic of conversation in the locker room quite a bit this year, according to Beason, and the team processed those thoughts alongside her.
“She's been very vocal about that,” Beason said. “She's been very passionate about the fact that she wanted to make it this far and to win a national championship.”
For freshman outside hitter Harper Murray, listening to Allick and watching her put in the work made an impact. As Nebraska punched its ticket to Tampa for the Final Four, Murray couldn’t help but think about Allick.
One year ago, Allick had been in Murray’s shoes — a freshman looking to make big dreams come true. Knowing Allick fell short of that goal in her first year at Nebraska yet watching her respond to it with resiliency inspired Murray.
“For me, just seeing how much it means to her it rubs off on everybody else,” Murray said. “Obviously it's great to be there and I want to be there for myself and for my team and everybody but I mean . . . Bekka is somebody that really opens my eyes. You do things for other people at this point in your career and she’s someone that I love playing next to and playing for.”
Nebraska defeated Arkansas this past Saturday in four sets, 26-24, 25-14, 21-25, 25-23, to return to the Final Four once again. Allick was a big part of the win, especially on defense where she had a career-high 12 blocks.
It was an emotional match for Allick too.
“She was crying like three points before the game was over,” Beason said. “She just wants it so bad. I was very, very happy for her.
“Did we have to snap her out of it? A little bit, yes. I was like, ‘OK, game’s not over.’”
Soon enough, it was and Nebraska celebrated in front of a sold-out Bob Devaney Sports Center. There were more tears, of course, but also plenty of smiles.
It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. Allick will tell you about how hard Nebraska worked in the offseason to build the environment and the culture that it has. As Nebraska prepares to face Pittsburgh Thursday evening, Allick will also tell you that it’s been worth it.
“People butt heads,” Allick said. “We’re 20-year-old women. We have stuff going on in our own lives. Tension happens but we work through it because we owe that to each other and we love one another. We choose each other every day.”
And for as much as Allick chooses her teammates, they choose her right back.
“It’s weird to hear people care about you so much,” Allick said about her teammates’ wanting this moment for her. “I’m kind of used to doing things on my own. To hear that from my teammates . . . It’s a really good feeling.
“You’re always going to thrive in an environment where you feel loved. That’s exactly how I feel.”
It’s been a long time coming for Allick since that loss to Oregon on Dec. 8, 2022. She couldn’t have known then what was ahead, but she knew she was willing to work for it. She also could have never predicted the team she’d have the opportunity to do this with, but she’s also grateful for every single teammate she has alongside her.
Allick doesn’t know what the days ahead hold, but she’s ready for it either way. After all, she’s already a winner in so many ways.
“All I want my team to know is that I love them and I would choose them,” Allick said. “In a room of a hundred talented volleyball players, I would choose them.
“Not just because of their skill, but for who they are.”
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Other news and notes:
>> Will outside hitter Lindsay Krause return to play for Nebraska against Pittsburgh?
That’s to be determined, but she has continued practicing with the Huskers each day leading into the Final Four. Following the win over Arkansas, Krause said she’s been working alongside Nebraska’s staff to introduce more and more each day to get ready. She’s being smart, but it seems like both she and Cook would love to have her back in the lineup once her ankle is 100%.
“All I can say is I’m working really hard,” Krause said following Saturday’s match.
>> Ever wonder about the song that pumps up Nebraska’s team? It’s LMFAO’s Shots (featuring Lil John).
“It’s the last song we listen to as a group before we go out on the court,” defensive specialist/libero Maise Boesiger said.
It’s also somewhat of a tradition at this point. Outside hitter Hayden Kubik said it was something her sister Madi participated in singing and jumping around to while she was at Nebraska, and it pre-dated her.
So if you’re looking for a pre-game warmup song, there you have it. You, too, can party like it’s 2009.