WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Purdue (22-9, 12-8 B1G) is set for its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003 when head coach Dave Shondell was hired to lead the Boilermaker volleyball program. The Boilermakers begin the tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a 6:30 p.m. ET matchup Thursday, Nov. 30, against High Point (24-7, 16-0 Big South).
“We are excited to be part of the NCAA field," said Shondell. "There is nothing easy about earning a spot in the tournament. Regarding the draw, I’ve learned to fear the worst and hope for a fair shake. Our focus for the next 24 hours will be on High Point. I know their staff will be well prepared for our match."
"I am a fan of Salt Lake City and expect Utah to do a terrific job hosting. I’ve know Beth Launiere for a long time and have great respect for her and the Utah program. Chuck Voss has a very good team at Cleveland State. They suffered some injuries early, but have been playing well. Trust me, we won’t sleep on anybody in this field.”
The meeting is Purdue's first-ever meeting with the Panthers. High Point was undefeated in the Big South, earning the regular season crown, but was upset by Radford 3-1 in its conference tournament. The winner between the Boilermakers and the Panthers will square off with the victor between Cleveland State (22-7, 13-3 Horizon League) and No. 11 Utah (22-9, 13-7 Pac-12). Cleveland State won the Horizon League while the Utes finished fourth in the Pac-12.
Purdue has never lost in the first match of the NCAA Tournament and boasts a 20-11 record in the postseason under Shondell. Under his guidance, the program has seen seven Sweet 16 appearances as well as two trips to the Elite Eight. This is Purdue's 19th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
The Boilermakers are determined to make a run as their four seniors have never made it to the Sweet 16. Ashley Evans was on the 2013 team that went to the Elite Eight but she wasn't active as she redshirted her freshman season. The 2014 squad missed the NCAA Tournament despite being ranked in the top-25 the entire regular season and earning a 22-10 record with two wins over ranked opponents. Purdue fell in the Round of 32 to the Longhorns at Austin, Texas, in 2015 and then to No. 18 Mizzou at Columbia, Missouri, in 2016.
Finishing fifth in the Big Ten, Purdue is one of eight Big Ten programs to advance to the postseason. This year's Boilermaker squad has already achieved something no other Purdue team in program history can claim as they enter the tournament with four victories over top-10 opponents.