Former Husker Assistant Skinner leads Kentucky to NCAA Volleyball Final

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 7:46 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Amber (Holmquist) Limbaugh remembers John Cook and Craig Skinner going back-and-forth during Nebraska volleyball practices during her legendary playing career at Nebraska.

“Craig and John were very competitive,” Limbaugh remembers. “John would tend to ‘Oh no, that wasn’t a touch!’ And Craig would be livid.”

Limbaugh says Cook often coached Nebraska’s starters during scrimmages, while Skinner focused on the reserves.

“They would get at it,” Limbaugh said. “Almost like brothers!”

Cook hired Skinner as an assistant coach when he arrived at Nebraska in 2000, a season in which the Huskers won a national championship. Skinner stayed in Lincoln for five seasons, helping Limbaugh develop into one of the best blockers in college volleyball history.

“I credit every single block to Craig,” Limbaugh said. “He knew who primarily would be set in what rotation. I’d look to him almost every play.”

Skinner left Nebraska to embark on a head coaching career at Kentucky. He’s been with the Wildcats since the 2005 season, and on Saturday, Skinner will coach in the NCAA Volleyball National Championship match. The 2nd-seeded Wildcats will face #4 Texas at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

“We were a good balance,” Cook said. “We were both hungry. We were young. We were learning.”

Cook says he is not surprised by Skinner’s success at Kentucky. The Wildcats are 23-1 this season and in the NCAA Final for the first time in program history. Skinner was recently named the AVCA National Coach of the Year.

“He’s got a great demeanor,” Cook said. “He knows the game very well. He’s very technical in how he trains and coaches.”

Limbaugh adds that Skinner’s personality is among his best traits as a coach.

“Craig was always someone I could relate to,” Limbaugh said. “I’m just blessed to have had him as a coach.”

Saturday’s final is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The match will be televised on ESPN2.

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