Sibling matchup highlights Ball State trip to Purdue this weekend
The Ball State women's volleyball team is looking to prove themselves in a coaches sibling rivalry as they travel to West Lafayette for the Purdue Boiler Box Challenge.
Cardinal coach Steve Shondell will match wits with his brother, Dave Shondell, the coach of the Boilermakers.
While the siblings prepare for the rivalry, the players are equally as fired up.
Ball State - Weekend schedule at Purdue
Sept. 18 - vs. Notre Dame - 12 p.m.
Sept. 18 - vs. Purdue - 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 - vs. South Dakota - 5:30 p.m.
"We hear them talk volleyball a lot, and we want to really win this for our coach and also maybe show that we got the better brother," redshirt junior Mackenzie Kitchel said jokingly.
The brothers have faced off once since Steve became the head coach of Ball State, and Dave's Purdue squad walked away with a 3-1 victory.
Despite the intriguing head-to-head matchup with his brother, Steve is focused on the tournament in general and the valuable experience his team will receive in playing Purdue.
"We are getting to play a top ranked program, so what the players will learn from this match up is really something that they can take with them for the rest of the season," Shondell said.
Purdue is 6-2 on the season. The Cardinals (6-5) will also take on Notre Dame (4-5) and South Dakota (4-6) throughout the course of the weekend.
This is the Cardinals' last non-conference tournament of the regular season, as their focus will shift on Mid-American Conference play starting on Sept. 24.
"It will be great to see what kind of fire we go out with against such high competition," Kitchel said.
Ball State is coming off a mid-week victory against in-state rival IPFW at home. The Cardinals won the match without senior Alex Fuelling, who is suffering from an apparent knee injury. Fuelling is the Cardinals leading attacker this season, but Shondell is optimistic that she will be back soon.
"She gets her brace to practice very soon, so we will know when she can be back on the court not long after that," Shondell said.
In Fuelling's absence, players have stepped up to fill the gaps. Senior Kelly Hopkins has led the team on the offensive end with contributions from freshmen Ellie Dunn, Emily Holland and Brooklyn Goodsel.
"It's impossible to replace a player like [Fuelling], but we have done a lot to fill her gaps," Steve said. "Everyone has been stepping up, we've been playing a lot more freshmen and nobody has disappointed."
Ball State will begin the Purdue Boiler Box Challenge on Sept. 18 against Notre Dame at 12 p.m.