WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The fall sports season is fast approaching, and no Purdue sports team has expectations as high as the Boilermaker volleyball squad.
The preseason top 25 poll was released Monday, and coach Dave Shondell’s squad came in at number eight in the rankings. Tuesday at media day Shondell said his team can use that attention as a motivator.
“I think it’s a shot in our arm that people think that we can be good, and that we have been good,” Shondell said. “I think that they’re accurate. I think that we’re going to have a really good team, but I don’t take a whole lot out of where we are right now. Let’s play four or five weeks of volleyball and see where we are.”
“I think it’s exciting, but it’s more of a challenge, I think,” senior setter Val Nichol said. “It’s like ok, so can you beat that number eight seed? Or can you do better than you did last year? And it just lights a fire underneath all of us.”
To do better than last year the Gold and Black will have to reach the final four. In 2013, the Boilermakers were one win away from that mark. Coach Shondell says there are two banners missing in Holloway Gymnasium.
“When you look at those banners, you don’t see a final four, and you don’t see a national championship banner,” Shondell said. “When you’re in the Big Ten, and your program is supported as well as ours, and you have the kind of talent that we have now — then your goals are very high.”
“Last year our whole goal was going to Seattle, and making sure that we’re there in the final four and playing for the national championship,” senior middle blocker KiKi Jones said. “I think this year we’re going to make sure that we achieve that.”
McCutcheon grad and junior libero Amanda Neill agrees with her teammate. It’s not only a goal for the Boilermakers to reach the final four and championship game, but she says her team believes they have the tools to do it.
“A final four is an expectation for us,” Neill said. “We want to be there, and a national championship is the ultimate goal. I mean who doesn’t walk into a season wanting a national championship? And so, the talent level we have here I think we can go as far as we put our minds to.”
Fans are invited to see the team in action in an intrasquad scrimmage at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 and in a match against program alumnae at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23. Both events are before the home opener slated for Aug. 29.