LINCOLN, Neb. — It was a little awkward, but not overly so.
Lexi Sun, now a sophomore at Nebraska, caught bits and pieces of Texas’ four-set win against then-No. 18 Oregon last Friday at the VERT Challenge in Lincoln, Neb. It was the Longhorns’ first match since Sun transferred away from the program, becoming the first starter in coach Jerritt Elliott’s 18 seasons to leave Texas before graduation.
Sun made it clear she was happy that her old team won.
“We ended on good terms,” Sun said. “I’m still good friends with a lot of the girls.”
Sun, sporting a red “N” T-shirt, was a little less clear on why she decided to leave Austin after her freshman season. Playing time certainly wasn’t the reason; in 2017, Sun — an all-Big 12 first-teamer — played in 103 of Texas’ 106 sets. She was second on the team in kills-per-set (3.27), and was good enough on the service line and the back row to play all six spots on the court.
The decision to transfer, she said, came after the season.
“I talked with a lot of my mentors, and I knew (transferring) was the best thing for me,” Sun said. “There’s nothing wrong with the Texas program. They’re a great program and will continue to be.”
Sun didn’t visit Nebraska, which won the 2017 national championship, on a recruiting visit coming out of high school, but did talk then to Huskers coach John Cook. On her second bite of the apple, she visited USC and Wisconsin before deciding that Nebraska was “where I could grow the most.”
Elliott was at ease talking about Sun after Saturday’s win against then-No. 7 Florida.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said with a shoulder shrug.
He confirmed that there is no animus between he and Sun.
“She sent me a very nice card (after transferring) and I texted her back,” Elliott said. “Lexi’s a very talented player, and she can be great. We’ve obviously been able to, luckily, find some recruits to replace her. We wish her good luck.”
Texas and Nebraska, which battled for many a Big 12 championship in past years, did not play each other in this year’s tournament, but even if the teams had, the obvious storyline wouldn’t have come into play. Sun didn’t play in either of Nebraska’s matches — a loss to Florida and a sweep of Oregon — because of an unspecified injury.
“I’ve been using the wrong muscles; I’m working on strengthening them,” Sun said.
Despite the delayed re-start to her career, Sun is “super happy” to be in Lincoln, and she’s hopeful she can get on the court before a sellout home crowd like the ones she saw last weekend.
“We had 8,000 for our scrimmage as well, which is crazy,” Sun said.
Cook has also been mum on specifically what ails Sun. This isn’t the first time Cook has been cagey about an injured player. At last season’s VERT Challenge, Nebraska was without All-American setter Kelly Hunter, but no one within the program elaborated on what was wrong with her.
“There’s no set plan,” Sun said. “Whenever it happens, it happens.”