Waverly’s ‘Bam Bam’ Boender to join NU
By Jeff Sheldon
LINCOLN — The newest commit to the Nebraska volleyball program won’t join the team until the fall of 2014, but she already has a nickname waiting for her.
Outside hitter Olivia Boender, who will be a junior at Waverly High School this fall, showed off improved athleticism and a powerful arm swing at NU’s camp last week. Her performance made enough of an impression to cement a scholarship offer Monday night and an affectionate new moniker from her idol, Nebraska senior outside hitter Hannah Werth.
“They called me ‘Bam Bam,’” said Boender (pronounced BOON-der). “Hannah Werth, her mom calls her ‘Bam Bam’ too, so she said she’s ‘Bam Bam Sr.’ and I’m ‘Bam Bam Jr.’”
It was high praise from Werth, NU’s current big swinger whom Boender said was her role model. Though the two won’t share the court as Huskers, the 6-1 Boender hopes to follow in her idol’s footsteps. She accepted the scholarship offer to become NU’s second known commit for the class of 2014, joining outside hitter Maddie Haggerty of Chicago.
The comparisons to Werth are apt, said Ryan Gray, Boender’s club coach on the Nebraska Juniors 16-and-under team.
“She is probably the most physical, powerful hitter we have, regardless of age, including the Rolfzens,” said Gray, referring to twins Amber and Kadie Rolfzen from Papillion-La Vista South, who will join Nebraska in 2013. The Rolfzens, who play on the Nebraska Juniors 18-and-under club, committed to NU before their freshman year of high school and are considered among the best recruits nationally in the class of 2013.
Boender, 16, has amassed 865 kills in her first two seasons at Waverly, which puts her on pace to surpass former Husker Dani Mancuso’s Class B career record of 1,336 kills. Her Nebraska Juniors club will travel to Orlando, Fla., later this month to participate in the AAU national tournament. The team is considered one of the favorites after recently winning the Junior Volleyball Association Memorial Day Classic in Chicago.
Gray said Boender had generated interest from a number of nearby schools, including a scholarship offer from Kansas State. She also received inquiries from Iowa State, Missouri and Kansas, among others.
Until recently, Gray said some college coaches were concerned about Boender’s dedication to conditioning. But after Boender added strength and became more agile after a few months of intense training, her physical abilities reached a new level.
Gray said Boender showed off the results of her work at NU’s camp last week, where she separated herself with her performance.
“No one was even close,” said Gray, who also worked at the camp. “There were kids out there that were really good, but she just put on a display.”
The showing was good enough for Nebraska coach John Cook, who Boender said extended the scholarship offer Monday night in a meeting with Boender at the NU Coliseum. It was the news Boender had waited for ever since she began following Nebraska volleyball. She accepted on the spot, knowing she had her family’s support.
“My parents knew all along that’s where I wanted to be,” said Boender, whose family moved to Nebraska nine years ago from Iowa. “Ever since I lived here, I always dreamed of going to Nebraska.”