The Purdue volleyball team is hoping an outstanding team dynamic and exceptional freshmen class will be the keys to a shot at the Final Four this year. An important member of this new class is freshman Valerie Nichol.

“She’s a real treasure to have,” head coach Dave Shondell said. “She was just such a great natural fit for our coaching staff and for Purdue University.”

Nichol said there were a lot of options open to her when she was looking into different universities.

“I visited 11 schools before I picked Purdue,” Nichol said.

“She could have gone to 360,” Shondell said. “We got her because a lot of things came together really well for us – because everybody in the country wanted her.”

Nichol said Purdue stood out to her because of the great opportunities with the School of Management, as well as the team she chose to be a part of.

“In the back of my mind I knew this was where I wanted to be. Great management school, the girls and coaches are great,” Nichol said. “I committed here two years ago, in the summer before my junior year.”

Nichol said the team’s mentality this year is going to give them the edge they need to be national contenders for a title.

“Just from when I came in this summer to now, we’ve grown into a completely different team,” Nichol said.

Shondell said Nichol’s ability to fit in with her fellow players is only part of what makes her such a valuable addition to the team.

“She has been more impressive than we expected; she’s a little ahead of the curve, even for a freshman phenom,” Shondell said. “Very seldom do you get a player who can do so many things as well as she can.”

Nichol wants to raise the bar and keep the goals high for all four of her years here at Purdue.

“It’s a team goal of ours to be Big Ten champs this year and hopefully continue that for the four years that I’m here,” Nichol said. “We have lofty goals but we also have the team that can do it.”