Head volleyball coach Dave Shondell has had a lot of great teams in his time as the leader of one the B1G’s best programs over the last twenty years. Great players have come and gone but none so much were as heralded as incoming freshman Chloe Chicoine, widely regarded as the #1 overall player in her class as an outside hitter. It isn’t just the local product that has the program buzzing, Shondell brings in his best every recruiting class featuring players from across the country in Taylor Anderson (San Antonio, TX), Grace Heaney (Omaha, Neb), Julia Kane (Windermere, FL), and Kenna Wollard (Dunlap, Ill) that ranks #3 overall in 2023. Those exciting young players will combine with B1G Freshman of the Year and All-American Honorable Mention Eva Hudson and explosive middle blocker Raven Hudson.
This spring, the Boilermakers squared off against Ball State (The Academy, IN), Northwestern (Purdue), Kentucky (Columbus East, HS), and Wisconsin (Lake Central HS-April 16th) which has allowed the staff to gain a great perspective heading into summer workouts on where the team stands. Three of the highly rated freshman enrolled early, including Chicoine, and they have gained a lot of valuable experience for the fall.
Chicoine, like Hudson, will be a pillar for the Boilermakers in the fall and pairing the two allows the Purdue attack to be more aggressive and teams can’t focus solely on Hudson. Last season, Hudson was often asked to carry the team and opposing defenses could send a double or triple block her way often but with the addition of Chicoine who is also a six-rotation player, Purdue’s ceiling is raised exponentially.
In their first two spring matches against Ball State and Northwestern, Purdue dominated both matches 4-0. In those matches, Purdue showed an overwhelmingly strong striking ability from their hitters and their traditionally strong defense that Purdue has been known for under Shondell. It was the next matchup against Kentucky in Columbus, IN that the Boilers were pushed for the first time this spring against the 2020 National Champions and a team that was a 3 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and made it to the Sweet Sixteen.
It's a block party. pic.twitter.com/MXedVfgqkr— Purdue Volleyball (@PurdueVB) April 1, 2023
In the matchup with the Wildcats, Purdue flashed their potential splitting with the Wildkats 2-2 and fans were treated to the flash of potential of the pairing of Chicoine and Hudson. The key for the Boilers will be identifying a backup setter as starter Megan Renner went down with a knee injury (apparent contusion) in the 4th set and Purdue struggled on the offensive end.
A great battle tonight in Columbus, Indiana. pic.twitter.com/IXJ1XTyFXn— Purdue Volleyball (@PurdueVB) April 7, 2023
Purdue will finish their spring matchup against fellow B1G member Wisconsin, a #1 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Elite 8 participant, and 2022 B1G Regular Season Champions. The Badgers have long been an elite program nationally and that was realized in 2021 when they won the National Championship. These programs, paired with perennial powerhouses Nebraska, Penn State, and Minnesota make for a group of five teams who could find themselves in the Final Four come 2023. The match against the Badgers will be played on April 16th at Lake Central High School.