Purdue's campus is buzzing again with the first day of classes. It's a bittersweet day for me, as it is my last first day of my undergraduate career. Most likely, I will be going somewhere else for graduate school (as it is usually recommended), and without a doubt I will miss Purdue and West Lafayette, where I have called home for the last 3 years. I'll probably say more about this in my good-bye post in the spring semester before I graduate, and so until then, let's focus on some volleyball!
As stated, today is the first day of class at Purdue, and there are many Boilermakers ready to restart their academic engines for classes, but there are also plenty of freshmen who are going to their first ever college course, including today's featured volleyball player, Sam Epenesa.
Sam Epenesa (Freshman)
Glen Carbon, IL (Edwardsville)
2012 Projection: Back-up/possible back court action
Sam comes into Purdue as a 2nd Team High School All-American her senior year and ranked #33 in PrepVolleyball.com's Top 250 Senior Aces, as well as a Fab 50 selection for Volleyball Magazine. In her last 3 seasons, she also earned Large School Volleyball Player of the Year honors along with the 2011 All-Metro Volleyball Player of the Year honors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her senior year, Epenesa led her team with 346 kills and 66 aces, and finished 3rd in her team with 249 digs. She set a school record her junior year with 406 kills. During her career at Edwardsville, she earned 1,250 kills (a school record), 184 aces (2nd in school history), and finished 3rd in block assists with 151.
Though Sam comes to Purdue as an Outside Hitter, I wouldn't be surprised if that changes to Defensive Specialist as well. Coach Shondell has taken Outside Hitters in high school and transformed them into back court and defensive specialist players in college, just like Hilliary Fox, Emily Ehlers, and Blair Bashen (We believe. Someone double check out facts). Coach Shondell said in my interview with him that Sam will be competing for back court time as she has great experience with ball control. If Sam does not red shirt this season (which I don't think will happen), I can see her coming off the bench as a substitute in both the front and back court, which we won't be able to tell until the actual game. One day she could be an outside hitter, the next day she may be a defensive specialist. Sam could be one of the well-rounded volleyball players that Purdue will need this season.