WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals take in Senior Night, but ready for what's next
Five seniors said goodbye to Worthen Arena as the Ball State women's volleyball team wrapped up a perfect home season Saturday night.
Karin Caudill, Charde' Phillips, Alyssa Rio, Hannah Sullivan and Alexis Shonkwiler were honored after the match for Senior Night, but the quintet knows there is still plenty of work to do.
"It's weird because it's our last home game, but we still have many things we need to accomplish," Rio said. "I think that's something we really need to focus on."
The Cardinals are headed to the Mid-American Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed, and they are trying to keep their season going with a NCAA Tournament bid after that.
"Winning the regular-season MAC was pretty awesome, but that's not where our goals stop," Shonkwiler said.
Sullivan said she had mixed emotions about Senior Night, saying it was exciting and sad at the time.
Rio, Sullivan and coach Steve Shondell all referenced a letter junior defensive specialist Kaylee Schembra read before the game.
"I did my crying before [the match]," Rio said. "I've gotten really close with the team. We've all been so close to each other."
The seniors finished their careers with a 15-game winning streak at Worthen Arena, including a 12-0 record in 2010.
Caudill, who started her first match of the season Saturday night, said playing in Worthen Arena is unlike anywhere else.
"Having all the support from the university students makes it more exciting," she said. "It's a lot louder, actually, than all the other gyms."
Her senior season was particularly special because she was coached by Shondell again, Caudill said. She played for the first-year coach during his tenure at Burris Laboratory School.
"I love that I had to chance to play for him again," she saidl. "I feel lucky, and I think it was an amazing opportunity."
Shonkwiler did not play Saturday because she wasn't medically cleared. Even so, she said she was happy to be a part of this senior class. She rejoined the team after missing the 2008 and 2009 seasons, which gave her an idea of what no longer playing volleyball will be like.
"I think I realized a little bit more than some of the other girls how much I'm going to miss it," Shonkwiler said. "Sitting out two years, I was able to kind of experience that."
Shondell said he owed a lot to his seniors for the success Ball State (24-4, 14-2 MAC) had this season.
"Any time you come in as a first-year coach, you'll basically go as far as your seniors will take you," he said. "I feel on any team, your senior leadership is so significant to what kind of season you have."