Daniel Sipocz

Members of Ball State's women's volleyball team reported to campus last weekend in preparation for the start of fall practices this week.

Also arriving for his first day on the job was newly hired assistant coach Corey Carlin, who said he's looking forward to starting practices with his new team.

"It's extremely exciting and a chance to grab a professional goal of mine," Carlin said. "It's always been a goal of mine to coach here since I was a student helping with the women's program. The tradition of Ball State always stuck with me since I was here."

Carlin took over as the top assistant, a position that opened up after Marci Peniata left Ball State for St. Cloud State University in July. Peniata's departure left Shondell a short timetable Shondell to hire a replacement before practices start.

Despite the position opening late in the summer, Shondell said he still drew interest from 20-25 candidates. Shondell narrowed the list to four candidates before interviews, eventually selecting Carlin as his top assistant.

"We needed a coach with experience, and Corey has 11 years of it," Shondell said. "He's a Ball State grad and I've known him since he was a high school student. Corey also came highly recommended by both my brothers at Purdue from working camps with him the last couple years."

Carlin, a 1998 graduate and former Cardinals men's volleyball player, left his assistant position at Eastern Kentucky to return to Ball State. Carlin spent two seasons at Eastern Kentucky before joining the Cardinals.

He said the decision to leave Eastern Kentucky wasn't easy.

"It was difficult from the standpoint that when I arrived at Eastern Kentucky there were a lot of injuries to overcome," Carlin said. "I was familiar with Lori Duncan after having been a coach in the conference and helping her get the program back on its feet. It was a difficult decision in that we had a strong recruiting class in and we were expecting to do things that had not happened in the few years since winning the conference championship."

The coaching staff, now filled out with Carlin and Kelli Miller, will scramble to get to know each other and figure out their roles as the week progresses. Miller and Carlin worked together at Purdue's volleyball camps and are familiar with each other.

"There's been a little bit of a buildup, but we're going to roll up our sleeves and go to work," Carlin said.

Carlin's arrival increased the pressure on Shondell to have a productive practice week. His team has an alumni match Aug. 21, and its season opener is Aug. 27 against The Citadel.

"Never in my life have I had more struggles in trying to figure out what to do the first week of practice," Shondell said. "… I'm sure I'll have to massage the schedule as we get going."