As the Purdue volleyball team prepares for their season opener against No. 4 USC this Friday, head coach Dave Shondell is making sure his offense is prepared.
“At this high level of Division I volleyball, you’re going to live and die with your outside hitters,” Shondell said.
Despite losing All-American Ariel Turner from the 2012 squad, the Boilermakers are loaded with talent at the outside hitter position this season. Sophomore Sam Epenesa had a .545 hitting percentage in Saturday’s alumnae scrimmage while junior Val Nichol averaged 1.72 kills and 1.74 assists last season.
Purdue defeated the alumnae 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-26, 25-16)
“Sam certainly shined Saturday,” Shondell said of Epenesa. “I’m also trying to give (Katie) Griffin the benefit of the doubt. She’s been real good in practice. She’s a senior, I want to give her a chance to go out there and earn that spot.”
Expectations are high for sophomore Annie Drews, a former Big Ten Freshman of the Week selection, who started 15 matches and averaged the third most kills per set on the team with 2.14.
With only a .241 hitting percentage, Drews struggled on Saturday. Despite this, Shondell remained optimistic about Drew’s contributions to the offense.
“Normally, she’s a no fear type of player,” Shondell said. “She just couldn’t find her comfort zone until game 3. Games 3 and 4, she was a different player.”
Despite the defeat of the all-star group of alumnae, Drews noted that there needed to be improvements before Friday’s season opener.
“We were in the net like six or seven times,” Drews said. “In practice, there’s no one to call that. In a game, you do it and you don’t even think about it. I think team chemistry is good. We know how to execute and we know what we need to do.We just let a couple plays drop that can make us look stupid if we keep doing them against good teams.”