This week’s practice has been business as usual for the Purdue volleyball team as it prepares for its home match against No. 6 Minnesota.
After coming off a huge win against then-No. 5 Nebraska, the now-No. 16 Boilermakers (14-5, 6-4 Big Ten) are refocusing on the next task at hand: getting revenge on Minnesota (15-3, 9-1).
“They’ve been on their phones all weekend, all day Sunday, having everybody tell them how great they are,” head coach Dave Shondell said about the Purdue players. “Sometimes you’ve got to put them back into the real world again and let them know that we need to get better focus. We need to play harder.”
Though proud of the victory and conscious of its potential implications, Shondell emphasizes a day-to-day mentality with his team.
“We came into practice just focused on what we kind of already needed to work on from the game,” senior middle blocker Blake Mohler said. “(Shondell) always lets us enjoy a big win like that for about 30 seconds. Then, it’s on to the next match.”
Shondell said on Saturday that Mohler had been the best he’d seen her all year, in terms of ability as well as health.
Mohler, who has struggled with injuries to her knee and ankle since as early as the Stacey Clark Classic back in September, had 12 kills and seven blocks on Saturday against the Cornhuskers, setting her second-best numbers in both categories.
“I think that she showed that there’s a lot of things she can still do at this point,” Shondell said. “Our training staff and sports medicine staff, they’ve all worked really hard to work with the coaches to help her get better.”
Mohler has reduced her practice frequency to every other day, taking time to rest in between.
“The other days she just kind of takes it easy and tries to be a leader out there and more like a coach,” Shondell said.
While those injuries have not fully healed and may not fully heal during the regular season, Mohler has taken them in stride and done all that she can to get back into prime condition.
“At this point, it’s just mentality,” Mohler said. “My injuries are not gonna change. I can just deal with them and continue to push through them.”
Mohler looks to continue her success against Minnesota, a team that defeated the Boilermakers in three sets the last time they met.
“We played relatively well against them at their place, but they were just better than us,” Shondell said. “We were in every game with them when we were up there. We just couldn’t close the door.”
After beating a top-five team a week prior, the Boilermakers will have a bit more confidence going into the game this time around.
“I think it certainly has to make our team feel better,” Shondell said about the Nebraska game. “This was that Big Ten team that people fear, and we were able to beat them.”
Shondell and the Boilermakers know just how deadly they can be when their performance matches their belief.
“We’ve been telling this team how good they can be all year long,” Shondell said. “Like Nebraska, (Minnesota is) a team that, if we play well, we can beat.”