Nebraska Volleyball announces five signees

The Nebraska volleyball program and Head Coach John Cook announced the signing of five student-athletes on Wednesday, the first day of the National Letter of Intent November signing period.

Three members of the Huskers’ signing class – outside hitter Madi Kubik, outside hitter Riley Zuhn and libero Kenzie Knuckles – are Under Armour First-Team All-Americans. Wisconsin and Stanford were the only other schools with three recruits on the first team.

Kubik, a 6-1 outside hitter from West Des Moines Valley High School in Iowa, is rated the No. 4 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and won the gold medal at the 2018 NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship while recording nine kills and two blocks in the championship match against Dominican Republic.

Zuhn is a 6-5 hitter from Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colorado. Zuhn was a MaxPreps All-American as a sophomore after leading her school to a state title, and she is the first-ever NORCO club player to compete on the U.S. Youth National Team. Zuhn is rated the No. 32 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com.

Knuckles, a 5-8 libero recruit out of Yorktown High School in Indiana, played outside hitter in high school and led Yorktown to a 34-0 record as a senior and a Class 4A state title. Knuckles is ranked the No. 37 overall prospect and the No. 3 libero, and she was one of only 10 seniors named to the MaxPreps 2018 Midseason Player of the Year Watch List in October.

Two in-state prospects are also members of the Husker class. Lincoln Pius X libero Emma Gabel and Johnson-Brock middle blocker Fallon Stutheit will join the Huskers next season. The 5-7 Gabel was a PrepVolleyball.com Club All-American in 2018 and led Pius X to the Class A state final this season. She was also an AAU National Championship All-Tournament selection after leading VCN to a fifth-place finish in 2017. Stutheit owns the Nebraska Class D1 record for kills in a season with 539 and won three straight Class D1 state championships at Johnson-Brock. The 6-1 middle blocker is a two-time Lincoln Journal Star Super-State and Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska first-team selection.

“We feel like we’ve put together a strong class that addresses what we will need to replace after this senior class of Mikaela Foecke, Kenzie Maloney and Brooke Smith graduates,” Cook said. “We have five highly talented, high-character individuals joining our program, and we’re excited to have two Nebraska girls joining our team next season. The returning players from this year’s team and this class will be our team for the next two years, so this is going to be a core group together, and we are going to expect this class to come in and challenge for important roles right away.”

Emma Gabel, 5-7, L, Lincoln, Neb. (Pius X) (VCNebraska)
• Attended Lincoln Pius X High School in Nebraska, helping the Thunderbolts reach the Class A state championship match as a senior in 2018
• Had 596 digs (5.7 per set), 24 service aces and 52 set assists as a senior
• Received Lincoln Journal Star Class A all-state honorable mention as a junior in 2017
• Played club volleyball for VCNebraska, which finished fifth in the AAU National Championships 16 Open Division in 2017
• Was named to the AAU National Championships All-Tournament Team in 2017 and was a PrepVolleyball.com Club All-American in 2018
• Also competed in track and field for the Thunderbolts
Coach Cook: “Emma will be a great addition to our back row. She is an elite passer and defender who reads the game well. We are excited to add another Nebraskan to our roster. Emma is someone we know will work hard and could have an immediate impact on our program. She comes from one of the best high school teams in the state and is a fierce competitor that will raise the level of our gym.”

Kenzie Knuckles, 5-8, L, Yorktown, Ind. (Yorktown)
• Played outside hitter at Yorktown High School in Indiana but will be a defensive specialist/libero for the Huskers
• Was named an Under Armour First-Team All-American in 2018
• Ranked the No. 37 overall prospect and the No. 3 libero by PrepVolleyball.com
• Was one of 10 seniors named to the MaxPreps 2018 Midseason Player of the Year Watch List
• Was an all-state performer each year of her high school career, leading Yorktown to a perfect 34-0 record as a senior with 4.2 kills per set and 3.9 digs per set
• Led Yorktown to the Indiana Class 4A state title in 2018, posting 14 kills and 10 digs in the state championship match
• Also won a Class 3A state title with Yorktown as a sophomore in 2016, recording 30 kills and 18 digs in the championship match
• Played beach volleyball instead of club volleyball in 2018 to improve her ball-handling and defensive skills
Coach Cook: “Kenzie is a phenomenal libero who plays for one of the best high school teams in the nation. She led her team to an undefeated season her senior year, and we are excited that she chose to be a Husker. We believe we’re getting one of the most talented players in the country in Kenzie and can’t wait to get her in a Nebraska jersey. She is a ball-control machine who has the potential to be on the court right away.”

Madi Kubik, 6-1, OH, West Des Moines, Iowa (Valley) (Iowa PowerPlex)
• Led Valley High school in West Des Moines, Iowa to a 41-4 record and the Class 5A state semifinals as a senior in 2018 with 5.16 kills per set on .382 hitting
• Competed on the U.S. Junior National Team, winning the gold medal at the 2018 NORCECA Women’s U20 Continental Championship while recording nine kills and two blocks in the championship match against Dominican Republic
• Was named an Under Armour First-Team All-American in 2018
• Ranked the No. 4 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com
• Averaged 5.5 kills per set as a junior in 2017, leading the Tigers to the Iowa Class 5A state championship match
• Named to the Des Moines Register’s All-Iowa Elite team following her junior season
• Helped her club team, Iowa PowerPlex, finish 19th at the Open qualifiers in 2018
• Named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year and the Iowa Class 5A Player of the Year in 2017
Coach Cook: “Madi is undoubtedly one of the best players in the country. Her experience with Team USA will be a very valuable addition to our program. With an outside (Mikaela Foecke) graduating after this season, Madi will have a chance to compete for a starting spot right away. She is a complete volleyball player and can play all six rotations. She is an exceptional passer as well as a force at the net and could contribute to the program in more ways than one.”

Fallon Stutheit, 6-1, MB, Johnson, Neb. (Johnson-Brock) (Nebraska One)
• Led Johnson-Brock High School - coached by her mother, Tera - to three Nebraska Class D1 state titles in her high school career
• As a senior in 2018, recorded 475 kills (5.1 per set) with a .415 hitting percentage
• Averaged 5.9 kills per set on .433 hitting as a junior in 2017
• Posted 19 kills and 16 digs in the Class D1 state championship match as a junior
• Set a Nebraska Class D1 state record with 539 kills in a season as a sophomore in 2016
• Was a two-time Lincoln Journal Star Super-State and Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska first-team selection
• Played club volleyball for Nebraska One
• Also played basketball for the Eagles
Coach Cook: “One of the best middles in the state, Fallon comes to us from the small town of Johnson. She’s a bit undersized but can definitely hold her own at the net. She led her team to a state semifinal appearance at the state tournament playing all six rotations. Again, we love adding Nebraska kids to our roster and Fallon epitomizes a small-town Nebraska girl chasing her dreams of being a Husker.”

Riley Zuhn, 6-5, OH, Fort Collins, Colo. (Fossil Ridge) (NORCO)
• Attended Fossil Ridge High School in Colorado, helping the SaberCats reach the quarterfinals of the Colorado 5A state tournament
• Ranked the No. 32 overall prospect by PrepVolleyball.com and was named an Under Armour First-Team All-American in 2018
• Averaged 3.7 kills per set with a .421 hitting percentage as a senior
• Led Fossil Ridge to a Class 5A state title in 2016 as a sophomore with 3.5 kills per set on .381 hitting, earning MaxPreps Sophomore All-America honors
• Was a Colorado 5A all-state selection
• Played club volleyball for NORCO and became the first player from the NORCO program to compete on the U.S. Youth National Team
Coach Cook: “Riley has worked very hard to be a Husker. We admire her passion and drive to be great. She is a player that will without a doubt have a positive impact on the culture of our program with her hard work and dedication. She is a highly skilled attacker and blocker and plays for one of the best club teams in Colorado.”