Hello there, fellow Boilermakers! Before I start I would like to introduce myself. I am Juan Crespo, a junior at Purdue from South Bend, Indiana (also known as the city where fun and football programs go to die) majoring in Atmospheric Science and tentatively minoring in Math and Political Science. About a week ago, TMill emailed me asking if I could do a weekly update of the volleyball team for H&R. After consulting with my agent and making a few phone calls overseas, I took the job, accepting the challenges ahead. But enough about me and my secret plans to solve global warming, let’s talk some volleyball!Last year, the Lady Boilers had quite an amazing season, only losing 3 close games at home in the Boiler Box, while posting 15 wins at home including 3 against Top 25 teams such as Northwestern (Nov. 12th), Illinois (Nov. 27th) and defending 4-peat National Champion Penn State (Oct. 8th). After this impressive season, Purdue hosted the first 2 rounds of the NCAA Tournament and defeated Kentucky and Louisville in the first and second rounds respectively, earning a trip to the Sweet 16 in Austin, TX and play the overall #1 seed and #1 ranked Florida Gators (this did not come without a price, as Anna Drewry tore her ACL against Louisville). Florida had only lost 1 game the entire season and was the SEC Champs, but this did not faze our Lady Boilers one bit. After winning a close 1st set, they went on to dominate the Gators in the 2nd and 3rd sets to earn a trip to the Elite 8 and play the host school, Texas Longhorns.
As any Purdue fan knows, every sport has a time where they are riding high and looking to win it all, but then the unfortunate happens and derails the team. In Football, it’s The Fumble, for basketball, Robbie Hummel’s knee, twice. For the Purdue Volleyball team, it was Jaclyn Hart going down with a torn hamstring towards the end of the first set in the Elite 8. Despite winning the 1st set, Purdue seemed lost for the 2nd and 3rd sets without our setter, sometimes considered the quarterback of the volleyball team. The veteran Longhorn team took advantage and dominated those 2 sets. Even though the ladies fought hard in the 4th set, we could not overcome the loss of Hart and lost a close 4th set, sending Texas to the Final Four and Purdue back on the plane to West Lafayette. It pains me every time I remember the sight of Hart getting injured; it is without a doubt Purdue could have made it to the Final Four and even won the National Title had we not lost Hart and Drewry. But when God closes one door, he opens a window, and that was the case for redshirt freshmen Katie Griffin and Rachel Davis, as they stepped in for Hart and Drewry and showed the amazing potential our underclassmen had.
This leads us to the 2011 season. The Lady Boilers enter the season hungry for success and prepared for combat in a loaded Big Ten Conference (only OMHR Iowa is not receiving votes in the preseason polls). Leading the team this year are the seniors, Blair Bashen from Houston, Texas; Tiffany Fisher from Topeka, Indiana; and Emily Ehlers right next door to me in Mishawaka, Indiana. Our volleyball team has a talented group of juniors and sophomores as well with Carly Cramer, Anna Drewry, Courtney Gosewisch, Ariel Turner, Amanda Miller, Rachel Davis, Catherine Rebarchak, Katie Griffin, and Hillary Fox. To go along with this talented group of ladies is one of the best recruiting classes in the country, with Val Nichol, Kaisley Fisher, and Kierra Jones. The team is coached by Dave Shondell from Muncie, Indiana, entering his 9th year as head coach.
However, the key component of this team is the fans, most specifically, the Block Party, the official student section of the Purdue Volleyball team. The Block Party is considered one of the best, if not THE BEST student section in the Big Ten and the Nation. In football and basketball, though the student section does add some home court/field advantage, most of the players from larger schools would be adjusted to the noise (but it still can affect them). However, in volleyball, the Block Party makes the Boiler Box one of the hardest places in the country to play volleyball. The Block Party is right on top of the opposing team and effective in causing the opposing team to mess up (and the difference is noticeable), literally making us the 7th man (or woman in this case). We have various cheers for each play that may happen in a game, but even better, each player has their own cheer that is chanted when they are about to serve or get a point (like Ariel Turner is "Burner Turner *clap*clap*clap*clap*clap*", I will list these later as I do not have the cheers for the incoming freshmen). If you are a Purdue student and a VIP card holder, you can join the Block Party for FREE! (That’s the best word a college student can hear). Registration for the Block party is one week from today at 5pm with a Kickoff Tailgate between IAF and Mollenkopf, just 2 hours before the first game. And did I mention it’s free?
As I said earlier, the Big Ten is loaded with talent this year, and every game is going to be a battle. Therefore, it is important for as many Boilermakers to get out to the IAF and Holloway Gymnasium to support our Lady Boilers on their way to victory and hopefully a Final Four appearance. I suggest that all of you should get season tickets, they only cost $80 for general admission ($40 for students w/o the VIP, you can still join the Block Party for free) and $96 for the Premium Chair Back Seats. So for the cost of 2-3 football games at Ross-Ade, you can enjoy an entire season of Boilermaker Volleyball! (But still go to the football games).
The season starts one week from today with the Mortar Board Premier at Purdue (August 26th-27th), starting off with the Baylor Bears Friday night at 7pm. On Saturday, the Volleyball team seeks revenge for Painter’s squad as they play VCU at 10am and then finish the day against the College of Charleston at 7:30pm Saturday night.
It is really going to be an exciting season not just for Purdue volleyball, but across the entire Big Ten as well with 4-peat National Champs Penn State and powerhouse newcomer Nebraska. So come on out to the Boiler Box this fall, support your Lady Boilers, and BOILER UP!!
P.S.: Since I'm new to this sports blogging, please feel free to correct any mistake that I have made, I am a meteorologist after all.
Note: I have received a few emails about some errors I made, I have gone ahead and corrected those changes in this post. Thank you for your constructive criticism, I really do appreciate it :)