WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL NOTEBOOK: Rio returns to team with new role
New transfers bring unique skills to Ball State
Rio back on board
Following Alyssa Rio's incredible 2010 season that ended with the CVU.com Libero of the Year award, she considered coming back to Ball State as a student assistant.
Shondell wasn't sure she would fill that role until the day before preseason practice began.
"We knew she was planning on it," he said. "But then she sent an email a couple of weeks ago and said she wasn't sure. But then she was here yesterday, so it all worked out."
The former Ball State libero is now officially a member of the team as a student assistant.
Rio's presence and knowledge of the game should be able to help the players who are vying to replace her this season.
Sophomore Catie Fredrich and senior Kaylee Shembra are the frontrunners to open the season as the starting libero.
Ball State received two transfers over the summer – sophomore Lauren Grant from Cincinnati and junior Kara Bates from Maryland.
Bates was a two-year starter at outside hitter for Maryland. She'll have to impress quickly to earn playing time behind Whitney Heeres and Kylee Baker.
"I definitely have my work cut out for me with their two starters returning, but I'm excited and up for the challenge. I want to be a big impact on the program," Bates said.
Grant is a lengthy right side hitter at 6-4. The Cardinals lack depth on the right side, so Grant may find herself playing early in the season.
"I'm really anxious to see how she's going to evolve into our system," said Shondell on Grant. "My expectations are really high for her."
With 18 players on the roster and only 16 allowed to travel to away matches, Shondell doesn't have much of a choice.
"We're going to try to redshirt as many of them freshmen as we can," he said.
The incoming freshmen include Hayley Benson, Kelly Hopkins, Marshall Marquita and walk-on Jaclyn Fullove.
Ball State is heavy with veteran players this season, so saving a year of eligibility for the freshmen is in the team's best interest.
"Who they are has yet to be determined. I'd love to be able to redshirt two or three of them for sure."
Kelsey Brandl is feeling fully healthy after injuring her ankle earlier this summer.
Brandl broke her ankle and fractured her talus after rolling on the joint in 6-on-6 volleyball. She was forced to wear a boot for four weeks afterwards.
She said she had a fast recovery this summer and will be completely ready for the season opener.
"My ankle is fine. It just gets a little sore. But its pretty much 100 percent healed. I'm really happy that it was because it came back really fast. "