Purdue is preparing in full speed for home matches to come this weekend after a long month of traveling to meet its Big Ten competitors.
The energy is high coming away from the win against Ohio State University (10-10, 3-5 Big Ten) last Saturday, and the Boilermakers (12-5, 4-4) are ready to bring that intensity to their home court.
The players prepare this week for matches against University of Iowa (8-11, 2-6) on Friday and No. 5 University of Nebraska (15-2, 7-1) on Saturday.
Junior outside hitter Caitlyn Newton commented on the transition from the away games to home.
“We’re definitely excited to be back home,” Newton said. “We had Sunday and Monday off, which helped our bodies recover a bit from all the travel and games. We’re just really focused this week on practicing what we need to practice.”
Being back on home turf has the Boilermakers eager to play in Holloway Gymnasium again.
“Holloway Stadium is the best Big Ten stadium,” Newton said. “We sell out every time, and we have all our fans cheering for us. We do have a great travel fan group everywhere we go, but just being in the stadium is super exciting. It pumps everybody up.”
Head coach Dave Shondell foresees tough fights ahead, but knows the hard work the players have been putting in will equip them to stay competitive with their Big Ten opponents.
“I think that this team has been playing very well. We count on everybody,” Shondell said. “Our ball-control people have been really good. They’ve been keeping us in some games.”
Shondell looks forward to the impact that sophomore setter Hayley Bush will have on the games due to her critical role, consistent effort and performance in games and practice.
“We look for a good weekend from ... Bush,” Shondell said. “She can stay calm and understand everything that’s going on and understand what her teammates are saying and make adjustments, so she’ll be really valuable to us this weekend, but really, everybody’s got to play pretty well to beat teams like Iowa and Nebraska.”
Shondell noted Iowa’s success this year and that Iowa will be coming into the game Friday with confidence due to the team’s recent win against Indiana University (12-9, 1-7). However, Purdue continues its thorough practice preparation, as always.
“Our focus right now at this point is a lot on us,” Shondell said. “We feel like there’s some things we need to improve on this side of the floor, and if we can do those things, I think we have a good chance Friday night.”
Shondell also spoke on Nebraska’s talent and strategies. The team is now training for certain situations that contributed to Purdue’s 3-1 loss at Nebraska last Wednesday.
“They took advantage of a couple blocking situations that we’ll have to pay more attention to, which we are this week in practice,” Shondell said. “We’ll have to improve in that area. They also served the ball short to us. It disrupts the flow of what your hitters are doing at the net, and we didn’t handle that very well.”
The Boilermakers are keen to face the Cornhuskers again after honing specific skills in practice this week.
“I’m excited (to play Nebraska again) because I feel like we kind of know what they’re going to do at this point,” Newton said. “We can fix what we need to fix and that’s exciting, and I feel like they’re definitely a beatable team.”