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2-sport standout Maggie Mendelson commits to Nebraska for college volleyball, basketball

By Patrick Carr - | Nov 22, 2021

Brian Wolfer, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Maggie Mendelson runs through a drill during basketball practice at Fremont High School on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

For the last couple of months, University of Nebraska volleyball and women’s basketball coaches would unexpectedly show up in Utah to watch Fremont High senior Maggie Mendelson.

So when it came time for Mendelson, a two-sport standout at FHS in volleyball and basketball, to choose a college, she was the one who got on the plane.

Mendelson verbally committed in-person to Nebraska to play both volleyball and basketball, she announced over the weekend, and then officially signed with the school on Sunday. Mendelson is a 6-foot-5 middle blocker in volleyball and a center/forward in basketball.

Mendelson flew to Nebraska over the weekend and the only coach who knew anything about it was basketball assistant coach Tom Goehle. Mendelson called Goehle on Thursday to initially commit to Nebraska.

“He got me tickets to the basketball game and got me into volleyball practice that morning. So I went to volleyball practice and committed to the volleyball staff, then I went to the basketball game and committed to the basketball program after that,” Mendelson said.

BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Fremont High's Maggie Mendelson serves the ball in a match against Syracuse on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, at Syracuse High School.

Mendelson’s four finalists were Nebraska, Washington, Texas and Minnesota, all of whom told her she’d be able to play both sports and all of whom still heavily recruited her after she reclassified from a 2023 high school graduate to a 2022 graduate.

Eventually, the relationships she made at Nebraska led to her choosing the school.

“The personalities at Nebraska, the coaches and the players I’ve gotten to know, and their dedication to letting me play both and showing me that they’re going to be there for me and they’ve always been super helpful with any questions that I’ve had, and always shown interest by coming down here and always being willing to hop on the phone,” Mendelson said of what led to her decision to pick the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska’s volleyball team is currently ranked No. 11 in the country in the most recent AVCA coaches poll. The Cornhuskers have a 21-6 overall record and are 15-3 in the Big Ten.

Nebraska has won five national volleyball championships, most recently in 2015 and 2017, and 12 conference championships in 21 seasons since 2000.

Brian Wolfer, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Maggie Mendelson shoots a layup during basketball practice at Fremont High School on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

The Devaney Center is either totally full or mostly full for home volleyball games, and 8,253 fans were there on Sept. 4 to watch the Huskers sweep Arizona State on the weekend Mendelson took her official visit to Lincoln.

“There’s just nothing like playing volleyball at Nebraska,” Mendelson said.

The Huskers’ women’s basketball team has gone a combined 70-43 the past four-plus seasons, including a 5-0 start to the 2021-22 season, with one NCAA Tournament appearance and one Women’s NIT appearance.

In the 2009-10 season, the Huskers went 32-2, won the Big 12 regular-season title and went to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. They went to the Sweet 16 again in 2013.

The volleyball and basketball programs have mostly limited ties to the state of Utah, save for volleyball assistant coach Jaylen Reyes, who is a BYU graduate and who was Mendelson’s main recruiter.

“(Reyes) somehow found out that I was going to commit there, so I called him and said ‘Hey, coach, can you walk down to the gym?’ So he goes, ‘sure,’ trying to act surprised that I was asking him to go down there,” Mendelson recalled.

Reyes brought Nebraska head coach John Cook and assistant coach Tyler Hildebrand with him.

“They were just like, ‘What’s happening?’ and they come around the corner and see me. I was super happy, they were happy. I think everybody was super confused in the situation. I just started talking and said, ‘Hey, coach, I’d like to commit to your program,'” Mendelson said.

Mendelson had front-row seats to the basketball game Saturday against North Carolina Central and committed to the basketball team after that.

Her commitment sparked a celebration between Reyes and Goehle in a hallway of the basketball arena after the game, according to the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper.

“I think she’s good enough to start for both of us,” Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook told the Journal Star in another article.

Mendelson’s Nebraska pledge is the latest in a series of big events for her just in the past few months.

She played for both USA Basketball and USA Volleyball teams at international tournaments in Mexico this summer and fall, winning a gold medal with basketball at the U16 Americas Championship and a bronze medal at the FIVB U18 World Championship.

Then, she reclassified from a class of 2023 high school graduate to a class of 2022 graduate, finished the high school volleyball season and committed to Nebraska.

It’s unclear who else, if anyone, has ever played for both USA Basketball and USA Volleyball junior national teams in the same summer in international tournaments.

And it was also unclear just how many highly touted recruits have chosen to commit in-person. At bare minimum, that number is one, and she happens to be a two-sport standout.

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