WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Seniors KiKi Jones and Val Nichol were among 15 players selected to the 2014 Preseason All-Big Ten volleyball team on Thursday.
Nichol, a 6-1 setter/outside hitter, was named as one of six unanimous selections made by the league’s coaches after earning All-Big Ten, All-Northeast Region and AVCA All-America third team honors last season. The preseason honor is the first for Nichol and for Jones, a 6-1 middle blocker, who garnered All-Region and Honorable Mention All-America accolades in 2013.
Nichol, who earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors once in 2013, started all 35 matches for Purdue, while racking up 2.77 kills, 6.03 assists and 1.79 digs per set to go with 21 aces. She recorded two triple-doubles and tallied 20 double-doubles, while leading the Boilermaker offense in 18 matches and digs twice. From the setter position, the Normal, Ill., native helped the Boiler hitters to a .250 or better hitting percentage in 15 matches. Nichol competed as a part of the U.S.A. Volleyball program for the second straight summer, acting as a member of the U.S. Collegiate National team that played in Croatia in July.
Jones returns as Purdue’s top blocker after posting a team-best 1.21 blocks per set to go with 2.15 kills per set and 25 aces. She ranked 28th nationally in hitting percentage in 2013 with a .397 effort. The one-time Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Week, played in all 131 sets for the Boilermakers, leading the team in blocks 20 times and kills four times. The Fishers, Ind., native ranked sixth among conference players in overall blocks and second in the league in hitting percentage (.380) and blocks per set (1.20) during Big Ten play.
In addition to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, the league’s coaches voted in a preseason poll and the Boilermakers were placed fifth behind Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois. Purdue finished sixth in league play in 2013 with an 11-9 mark. Last year, the Boilers posted a 5-5 record against the four teams ranked ahead of them in the poll, including a season sweep of Nebraska and two wins against the Fighting Illini.
Purdue returns nine players from the 2013 team, which advanced to the Elite Eight, and adds the third-ranked recruiting class in the nation to the fold. The incoming class of seven includes four Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 players, which also were ranked among PrepVolleyball’s Top 50 Senior Aces.
The Boilermakers begin the 2014 campaign on Belin Court, playing host to the annual Mortar Board Premier on Aug. 29-30. The event will include six matches over the two-day slate, featuring Purdue, USF, LSU and San Diego.
2014 Big Ten Preseason Poll
1. Penn State
6. Michigan State
9. Ohio State
2014 Preseason All-Big Ten Volleyball Team
Jocelyn Birks*, Illinois, Jr., OH
Liz McMahon, Illinois, Sr., RS
Lexi Dannemiller, Michigan, Sr., S
Kori Moster*, Michigan State, Sr. Libero
Adrianna Nora, Minnesota, Sr. MB/OH
Hannah Tapp, Minnesota, So., MB
Mary Pollmiller, Nebraska, Sr., S
Kadie Rolfzen*, Nebraska, So., OH
Megan Courtney, Penn State, Jr., S/OH
Nia Grant, Penn State, Sr., OH
Micha Hancock*, Penn State, Sr., S
KiKi Jones, Purdue, Sr., MB
Val Nichol*, Purdue, Sr., S/OH
Lauren Carlini*, Wisconsin, So., S
Ellen Chapman, Wisconsin, Sr., OH