Nebraska apologizes to Maryland volleyball team after fans yell at kneeling players during anthem

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Nebraska women's volleyball coaches, players and school administrators apologized to the Maryland program after Cornhusker fans yelled at opposing players who knelt during the national anthem prior to a match Friday.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reported that multiple Nebraska spectators shouted at the handful of Maryland players kneeling, telling them to "stand up."

After Nebraska won the match in three sets, Cornhuskers players paused their celebrating and called over to a Maryland player to apologize.

"Our players were rattled during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ because we had fans getting on the Maryland players," Nebraska coach John Cook said according to the Journal-Star. "We had a couple of players that were upset that were actually playing in the match.

"I just don’t think that’s our fans' place to say things during a match. It’s putting judgment on the other team, and this is a volleyball match. We’re not here to do that. So I’m a little disappointed that happened. And our players apologized to the Maryland players after the match. There are other ways to express people’s opinions, but not right after ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and introductions."

Cook added teams normally don't shake hands after matches and that his team's postgame actions were "classy."

"I’m disappointed that happens at Nebraska at a volleyball match," Cook said. "I hope it doesn’t happen again."

In a statement to the Journal-Star, Cornhuskers athletic director Trev Alberts echoed Cook's comments.

"I am disappointed that some of our fans would react that way, and apologize to the Maryland volleyball program," Alberts said. "Our athletic events at Nebraska should always be a place where people can come together to enjoy great competition in a respectful environment."

The Maryland volleyball account tweeted Saturday, "a movement, not a moment. Our squad will never stop battling for a better society."

Cara Lewis, a Terrapins junior middle blocker, is one of the Maryland players kneeling during the anthem this year. She told Maryland athletics before the season that "it’s our way to peacefully protest."

"We’re not hurting anybody and we have the support of our team, our athletic department and our fans," she told the school website. "Everyone supports it and even if some people outside of this family don’t, we don’t care."

Rainelle Jones, a senior middle blocker, is another Maryland player who has been kneeling in 2021.

"For those that know, I kneel for a purpose, not to disrespect," she tweeted Friday night. "However being disrespected by others is what I and many other people battle with daily."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nebraska apologizes to Maryland volleyball after anthem kneel