By Leia Baez
Senior Nikki Mastny, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter from Norfolk, has always dreamed of being a volleyball coach. But Mastny’s coaching career is starting sooner than she had hoped.
The two-time All-American, who led the Mavericks with 513 digs and 14 solo blocks in 2000, will not be playing her senior season due to scoliosis, an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine.
Instead, Mastny is on the UNO volleyball roster as an assistant coach.
After redshirting last season because of back surgery, Mastny was hoping to get back on the court where she could finish the last season of her volleyball career.
“You tell me I can’t do something and I am going to keep on trying and trying,” Mastny said.
But the pain just became too much of a problem for Mastny, who ended her career with 1,162 kills and 1,079 digs.
“I’m in the pain all the time,” Mastny said.
But contributing to the UNO volleyball team is not over for Mastny.
Mastny said she hopes she can do whatever she can to help out her team.
“The team has been so supportive both on and off the court,” she said.
With a steel rod and eight screws in her back, both Mastny and head coach Rose Shires feel Mastny’s future is more important than risking what might happen if she were to play.
“After talking with Nikki’s family and her physician, I think it is the best thing for Nikki,” Shires said.
Mastny was not the only addition to the Mavericks’ coaching staff. Former College of Saint Mary standout Kristen Lebeda has also joined.
Lebeda, the sister of UNO’s junior setter Kylie Lebeda, will begin her coaching career as an assistant coach for the Mavericks.
Kristin Lebeda was a three-time NAIA All-American outside hitter and led the College of Saint Mary to four-straight NAIA National Tournament appearances. She was also selected first team Verizon Academic All-America Accolades in 2001, four-time All-Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree and two-time MCAC Player of the Year. Kristin finished her career with 2,241 digs and 1,653 kills and became only the second player in school history at CSM to have her jersey retired.
With both Mastny and Lebeda as assistant coaches, who combine for five All-American honors, the Mavericks’ staff brings more talent and experience to the UNO volleyball program.
“I think together we bring a lot of experience, maybe if they [the team members] have a problem they can come to us knowing we have been in those situations,” Lebeda said.