The Purdue Volleyball program received an over whelming blow when Megan Renner announced she would medically retire after suffering another ACL tear.
With Grace Balensiefer’s departure, Renner was set to have a breakout year as starting setter for the Boilers. She started 9 of the last 12 matches last season and set a career-best 54 assists vs. Utah. She is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree as well as a two-time distinguished scholar.
Anyone who has played or watched volleyball knows the setter is basically the facilitator of your entire offense. Your setter needs to gel good with your team, read the defense, know the opposing strong blockers, and put it in the hands of the open man(wo). Losing Renner’s experience here hurts quite a bit.
It’s so difficult not only physically but mentally on an athlete when something like this happens. You work so hard to prove yourself only for an injury to knock you out. While it may seem like what you had planned for your future is over, there is always something new awaiting you that you didn’t plan on. Take Hummel for example, a star athlete that was poised for the NBA. Two ACL tears and never taking his talents fully to the professional level would lead most to give up. Now Robbie is one of the best CBB analysts out there and living a profession I’m sure he never even saw for himself. Like Robbie, Renner will find her passion and footing elsewhere.
So, as always who is next man(wo) up? Dave Shondell will have to play with his lineup here to see what works best, but as of now they have Redshirt Sophomore Sydney Yim who has only had a little playing time last season against Rutgers and Bradley. She was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Massachusetts in high school, but we haven’t seen much at the collegiate level.
My gut says Shondell is going to hit the transfer portal in hopes of getting an experienced setter for his squad. He has so many dynamite hitters in front row with Raven Colvin, Eva Hudson and incoming freshman Chloe Chicoine and so much experience in backrow with DS Maddie Schermerhorn to waste talent. He needs to find someone who can come in to adjust quickly to their fast offense as well as help lead the team.
There is another possible opportunity for the Boilers with incoming freshman Taylor Anderson. She was the No. 1 ranked setter by PrepDig and won four championship titles at her high school. She put up 794 assists and 267 digs her senior season. Adjusting to the pace of college level sports can be difficult, but if Anderson can step up and prove herself then this could be a massive opportunity for the young freshman.
I’m not sure how this transition will play out for Purdue and Coach Shondell but I have all the confidence in him in making changes necessary to lead this Purdue team to being conference contenders. As the saying goes, smooth seas do not make skillful sailors and sometimes adversity brings on greater success.