Southwest vs. Pius X, prep volleyball, 9/5/17

Lincoln Pius X watches teammate as junior Emma Gabel returns a serve Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, against Lincoln Southwest.


At first Emma Gabel was a little surprised that a college volleyball program like Nebraska would be recruiting her to come play for them, but it’s not a complete shock to her.

“My coaches at VCN (Volleyball Club of Nebraska based in Lincoln) have always told me if I worked hard, then my dreams will come true, so I definitely think I’ve worked hard enough to earn a spot to play for the Huskers,” Gabel said by phone late Tuesday.

The lifelong Lincoln resident and Pius X junior made her college choice on Tuesday to play volleyball for Nebraska.

“I decided tonight that I want to play at Nebraska, and I think it will be a great experience for me,” Gabel said.

The 5-foot-7 defensive specialist will begin her college career as a walk-on, just like most defensive specialists, but could earn a scholarship later in her college career.

She’ll have the chance to follow another Pius X graduate, Sydney Townsend, who played a big role for the Huskers as a senior.

It was just about one month ago when Gabel began having conversations with Nebraska assistant coach Kayla Banwarth. A few weeks later the walk-on offer came. Before that Gabel had been mostly recruited by less high-profile NCAA Division I teams.

Gabel was plenty familiar with the program, but still made a visit for a closer look. She said the coaches were friendly, and she enjoyed talking to the current players while taking in a beach volleyball practice.

She also talked about her decision with the director of her club volleyball team, Maggie Griffin, a former Husker player and volunteer assistant coach.

“Ever since I was a young girl it’s been a big dream of mine to play at Nebraska. Once Kayla Banwarth and John Cook started talking to me, the dream finally came true,” Gabel said.

Gabel is the fifth known commit for the Huskers’ 2019 class that includes another walk-on from Nebraska in Johnson-Brock’s Fallon Stutheit.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.


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