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Volleyball player named All-American

Senior Ali Hornung had an exciting week last week. On the same day she signed her national letter of intent to accept a full ride scholarship from Purdue University in West Lafayette she learned she had achieved another goal: Under Armour All-American. She said she is thrilled to be named among the top 25 volleyball players in the country and is eager to play the sport at Purdue with her older sister Marissa ’18 next fall. Seeing her sister achieve the same honor two years ago was Ali’s inspiration for setting her own goal of receiving that recognition.

“This has been a goal of mine ever since Marissa received the same honor her senior year,” Ali said. “When I heard the news, I was so excited. It always feels good when you accomplish one of your goals, but especially when the accomplishment comes with such a high honor like this one.”

To achieve that goal, Ali focused on becoming the best volleyball player she could be, helping her team achieve four sectional championships and three regional titles over her four seasons as a varsity player. This year, the team lost at semi-state to eventual 4A state champion Yorktown. Not only did she put in the work and the time, but she chose to learn from setbacks and challenges.

“It has taken many obstacles that have only made me a better and stronger player, physically and mentally,” Ali said. “And most importantly, it has taken the constant encouragement and support from every amazing coach and teammate I have ever had.”

Ali credits her teams – Providence and club – for her success as a standout player.

“These accomplishments are only a reflection of the elite teams I have been a part of and of the amazing coaches I have had,” Ali said. “It makes it so much easier to constantly get better when you are being pushed by these kinds of teammates and coaches. It is also a reflection of my parents and sisters, who are my biggest supporters. This means everything to me because I know that I will always be encouraged and supported by these people.”

This season, her accolades also include being selected to the 2020 AVCA High School All Region Team for Region 5, IHSVCA 3A-4A Senior All-Star Team, IHSVCA Class 4A First Team All-State team for the second year, and IHSVCA 4A South All District team. She also was named to PrepVolleyball Defensive Dandies 2020, earned top-25 recognition on MaxPreps Player of the Year, and was ranked No. 63 in the nation and No. 6 in Indiana according to MaxPreps 2021 Recruiting Class rankings.

Ali’s stats as a Lady Pioneer are even more impressive. She tallied 446 kills over 97 sets during the 2020 season and defensively, had 368 digs and 45 total blocks. On average, she had a .349 hitting percentage and totaled nearly 1,300 digs over the last four seasons.

While Ali is excited at the prospect of being on the court once more with Marissa, she earned her place on the Purdue roster in her own right. Purdue Coach Dave Shondell said she will be an immediate asset to the team.

“Ali is as skilled of a recruit as Purdue has seen in a long time,” Coach Shondell said. “A multi-dimensional star in club and high school, the explosive six-rotation player will become a valuable weapon for the Boilermakers. Most likely to focus on serving, passing and defense, Ali is more than capable of slugging it out along the net as well. Ali plays years above her current age.”

For Ali, playing with a group of talented players who will help her grow even more in the sport she loves is something she looks forward to next fall.

“I can’t wait to be a part of the Purdue Volleyball family because it is a very strong and close one that I get to be a part of for life,” she said. “I know the people I will be with every day will push me to be the best version of myself. Getting to play with my sister for one more year is what I am looking forward to most. She is the best teammate I have ever had, but she is also my best friend, so it will be a fun time.”

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Sports Spotlight: Cross Country and Volleyball

Due to having only one eVision issue in October, this month our Sports Spotlight focuses on two teams: Cross Country and Volleyball. For Cross Country, Coach Neal Masterson nominated sophomores Ben Kelly and Maci Hoskins, who will compete at semi-state on Saturday. (Tickets are $8 and must be purchased in advance.) It is the first trip for Ben and the second for Maci. Ben placed 23rd at last Saturday’s regional, and Maci finished seventh. The remaining team members also competed at regional, including junior Sarah Boehm, who placed 59th, and sophomore Erica Voelker, who placed 66th. For the boys — all juniors — Garrett Huber placed 42nd, Kaden Connin 52nd (with a personal record), Akhil Long 67th, and Will Harper 75th.

For Volleyball, Coach Terri (Blunk) Purichia ’90 nominated seniors Anna Purichia and Ali Hornung, Anna for her the leadership role she has taken on this season and Ali for her success on the court and serving as a role model to younger players. Also of note, Ali is one of 25 finalists for MaxPreps National Player of the Year.

The Volleyball team defeated Seymour and Floyd Central in three sets each last weekend to win its 10th sectional in as many years. The team will play in the sold out 4A Bloomington North Regional at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with finals at 7:00 p.m. Games will be livestreamed on the team’s Facebook page.

Read below for Q&As with the players.

Anna Purichia, senior, Volleyball, outside hitter, fourth season PHS, playing since age 6, House of Integrity, club volleyball
College plans: Playing volleyball at Eastern Kentucky University, considering majoring in pre-dental

From Coach Purichia: Anna has taken on a big leadership role with our team this season.  The seniors had several zoom meetings with me in the off season designing what they would like the season to look like.  Anna did a lot of research on her own and talked to vendors on her own to make sure that every detail possible was taken care of in the way the senior class wanted it to be. She communicates messages to the team, and helps to keep everyone well informed.  She has really done a great job helping the younger players get acclimated to our program through her guidance!

Question: What has been the highlight of your senior season?
Anna: The highlight of my season has definitely been having a season! We weren’t sure what it was going to look like during the summer, and we were all worried that the possibly we may not even have a season was going to become reality! I am so thankful for each and every game and practice I have had with my amazing teammates!

Q: How did you get started playing volleyball?
AP: I have played volleyball since I was 6 years old. I got started (obviously) because my mom lives and breathes volleyball, and I grew up around the sport, so it is something that has always been and will always be a huge part of my life.

Q: What do you enjoy about volleyball?
AP: I love the intensity of the sport! It is the best feeling when you are in a close match, and your physical and mental capabilities are being tested! That feeling of energy and adrenaline is the best! And it is a bonus that I get to play the sport with my best friends, and have met some of the most important people in my life through volleyball!

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
AP: My favorite part about begin a Pioneer is the image that comes with the title! I love how being a Pioneer means you are known for your dignity, strong academics and athletics, and faith! Being a Pioneer to me is wearing the name Providence on my back and having pride in doing so!

Q: How are you making the most of your senior year?
AP: I am making the most of senior year by putting as much effort into my academics as I do into my sports and extracurricular activities, to really prepare myself for college, as well as trying to go to as many sports events as possible and support my fellow Pioneers!

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
AP: My favorite school subject is either science or art. I love science, mainly anatomy (which her father, Jeff Purichia teaches), because I love learning about all the different ways that our bodies work, and art because I love to be creative and I find it very relaxing and a great pass time!

Q: Coach Purichia mentioned you took on a big leadership role this year, researching items to get the team’s requests fulfilled and bringing the freshmen on board. What have you enjoyed about being a leader?
AP: I have waited four years to finally be able to be considered a “big dog” on the team. Having that title may be intimidating at first, because of the status and image that Providence Volleyball upholds, but I was definitely excited to face the challenge head on. Of course, my teammates make it easy being a leader because they are always listening and observing, wanting to get better each and every day, and I have loved being able to get to know each and every one of them, not just as my teammates, but as some of my closest friends!

Q: What is it like having your mom as your coach?
AP: My mom being my coach is not a new thing, as I have played for her for the majority of my life, and while it does present some challenges, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel as if volleyball is one of our biggest ways to bond, and I know that no matter who I am playing, how I am paying, who I am playing with, she will always have my back, and that is a luxury that not many players get to have! I will definitely miss seeing her at practice every day once I graduate, but it truly has been the best four years!

Ali Hornung, senior, Volleyball, outside hitter, fourth season, playing since age 7, House of Integrity, Student Ambassador, Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and National Honor Society.
College Plans: Playing volleyball at Purdue University where she will get to play one last year with her sister Marissa.

From Coach Puriciah: Ali has had an absolutely amazing career at Providence! She is a top-notch athlete, student, and young lady! She is an outstanding role model for younger players to one day dream of being!

Question: What has been the highlight of your senior season?
Ali: The highlight of my senior season has just been being able to play the full season without missing a game. I know so many people who haven’t been able to play their full season because of COVID-19. I am grateful that I have been able to have a senior season, and I am even more grateful that I have been able to spend it with this particular group of teammates and coaches.

Q: How did you get started playing volleyball?
AH: I have been playing volleyball for 12 years. My mom (Kelly Quinkert-Hornung ’87) played volleyball at Providence and Indiana University, and both of my sisters played, so I was destined to play too!

Q: What do you enjoy about volleyball?
AH: The thing I enjoy most about volleyball is how fast paced and competitive it is. There are not many times when I am just standing around because there is always something going on. Volleyball in Indiana is super competitive because there is a ton of talent, and I have loved every minute of competing against that talent.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
AH: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is the relationships I have made with friends, teachers, coaches, etc. Everyone at Providence genuinely cares about one another and will always be there for support. It is a very close community, and I am so grateful for that.

Q: How are you making the most of your senior year?
AH: I am making the most of my senior year by trying to stay as involved as possible. I try to participate in as much as I can and attend as many events as I can because it is my last year as a student, and it will go by so quick.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
AH: My favorite subject in school is art because I love to be creative. There is not just one way to do things in art, you can pretty much do the things you like the way you want. Our art teachers are pretty great too!

Q: Coach mentioned you are a role model for younger players. Who has been your role model during your volleyball career?
AH: My sisters have been my role models during my volleyball career. I grew up watching them play pretty much every week. Even though they were so different on the court, they were both amazing, so I always have looked up to them.

Q: What does the sport of volleyball mean to your family?
AH: Volleyball has meant so much to my family. It is something we all enjoy doing and watching, and it has taken us to so many amazing places. It is something that makes us closer as a family because we all love it so much, and it is something we always support one another in.

Benjamin Kelly, sophomore, Cross Country, second season, running since fifth grade, House of Integrity, Math Team, Boys Track, and basketball.

Question: What was the highlight of your regular season?
Ben: The highlight of my season was running 17:11 for the 5K at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational.

Q: How did you get started running?
BK: I started running in fifth grade for Southern Indiana Catholic because my younger brother wanted to run, and I wanted to try it out too. I liked it and decided keep running in high school.

Q: What do you enjoy about running?
BK: I enjoy running because if I want to improve in the sport, I can just work harder. In running you just rely on yourself and how hard you’ve worked.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
BK: My favorite part of being a Pioneer is having support in everything I do from the school community.

Q: What is your favorite school subjec
BK: My favorite subject is math because there are always a lot of different ways to get the answer.

Maci Hoskins, sophomore, Cross Country, second season, running for nine years, House of Courage, Girls Soccer, Girls Basketball, Girls Track.
Question: What was the highlight of your regular season?
Maci: The highlight of my season was my race at CERAland Park near Columbus. I ran my personal record of 19:20 and set a new school record.

Q: How did you get started running?
MH: I started cross country because I was looking for another fall sport and was originally going to play softball but I decided to try running and loved it.

Q: What do you enjoy about running?
MH: I love the individuality of running. I also love to compete, whether it’s friendly bets with the boys or racing down the stretch. The competition of cross country makes me love it even more. Cross country also challenges my mind and body, and I love being able to improve and reach goals, knowing that my physical and mental strength gets stronger and stronger.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
MH: I love the closeness of the PHS students, especially at sporting events when everyone is excited and cheering.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
MH: I love my Weightlifting class! Weightlifting is super fun and improves my athletic ability.

Q: What are the challenges and rewards of playing two sports at once?
MH: The main challenges are time management, strain on my body, and finding time to do school work. However, the rewards of playing two sports that I absolutely love are getting to be teammates with all the soccer girls and the Cross Country team. Those friendships and bonds are my favorite and keep me motivated to continue to do both sports.

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Hornung, Boilermakers head to NCAA Sweet 16

Marissa Hornung ’18, a Purdue University sophomore, is having a great season as libero for the school’s women’s volleyball team. In the final two weeks of the regular season, she repeated as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Her accomplishments over those two weeks included a total 46 digs in one week in wins over No. 22 Michigan and Michigan State, including a career high 29 in the Michigan matchup. She also was named to the Academic All-Big Ten.

The team earned a Top 16-seed for the NCAA Tournament, giving Purdue the opportunity to host the opening round, during which the No. 14 Boilermakers beat Wright State and No. 16 Marquette. On Friday, Hornung and her team head to Texas to face No. 1 Baylor at noon on ESPNU.

We caught up with Hornung before the first two rounds of the tournament last weekend:

Question: What has been the highlight of the season so far?
Answer: Two of the games that stick out to me as turning points in our season are the Nebraska game (at home) and the Michigan game (at home). The Nebraska game was a big momentum changer for us because taking down a Top 5 team drew a lot of national attention towards our program. We didn’t like how we felt when we left their place a couple weeks earlier with a 1-3 loss, so when we won that game, it gave my teammates and me confidence that we could compete with any team in the country. Not to mention, the atmosphere in our gym was CRAZY because we had a sold-out crowd and the five-set match was filled with amazing plays. Also, our Michigan game was a highlight of the season for me because it was senior day, and we hadn’t beat Michigan in 3 years. It was evident through our play that we were competing for Blake Mohler and Shavona Cuttino (our two seniors), and the win speaks to the level of respect and chemistry this team has for each other. We weren’t willing to lose to Michigan again, especially on senior day when we were honoring two people who have given so much to the program.

Q: What do you like about being a Boilermaker?
A: Right now, I like being a Boilermaker because I believe there are so many positive things happening on our campus. Since I stepped foot on campus in June 2018, I have witnessed and been a part of so many great moments. Some of these things include: Meeting Tyler Trent and getting to hear his life story through his perspective, being a student when Purdue celebrated 150 years of excellence as a university, playing on a team that just finished with the second most wins in the Big 10 at Purdue (14) in 32 years, witnessing amazing sports upsets and runs in the tournament such as Purdue football vs. Ohio State last year or our men’s basketball team making it to the Elite 8, watching any of our sports teams succeed because our athletic program is very successful right now, and being a part of a new major (Human Resources Development) (also my major) that the university has implemented, so I can earn the best degree possible. I could go on and on, but at the end of the day, I am proud to be a Boilermaker right now because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

Q: What did you think when you heard you were Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week – twice?
A: Honestly, I didn’t think much about the award itself but more about how happy I was with the wins the following weeks. Those recognitions came after some very emotional, intense, and crucial matches so it was nice to reflect on those. Besides, everyone knows that in a team sport you don’t receive individual accolades without the help of your teammates and coaches. I am just grateful to still be playing at this point, to be surrounded by an amazing volleyball family, and the fact that I still have time to keep learning about the game I love.

Q: What’s your goal going into each game?
A: I have two goals going into each game that have helped me throughout this year.

1) Give it my all so I don’t have regrets. There is no feeling worse than going back and watching film and realizing that I didn’t try hard enough on a play. I have a lot of passion for the game, and my years left of playing are starting to shorten, so I want to make sure I give it everything I have while I still can.

2) Remember that volleyball is just a game and I am here to have fun. Playing in the Big 10 is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. It is the toughest league by far, and there is NO game that I feel comfortable going into. Every team is capable of beating you, if you don’t show up. To take away from some of that pressure, I try to remind myself that competing is fun. I tell myself that I have been playing competitively since I was 8 years old, and it helps me not to overthink things.

Q: What is the team looking forward to in the tournament? 
A: Our team is most looking forward to hosting the first and second rounds of the tournament. It has been a long time since our program has hosted, and we are excited to show teams what Holloway is all about. Our gym is truly one of the hardest places to play in the country, and our fanbase has continued to grow throughout the past couple of years. Our tickets for the games sold out within the first couple of hours, and our website even shut down from so much activity at one point. We are motivated to give the Boilermaker community our best effort to say “thank you” for all the love and support they have shown us.

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Sports Spotlight: Volleyball

This issue’s Sports Spotlight features two Volleyball players, junior Miranda Harley and senior Brynna Walthers. Their Q&As are below:

Miranda Harley, defensive specialist, is a junior in the House of Faith and a Student Ambassador. She has been playing volleyball since third grade and is in her third year on the Providence team.

Question: How did you get interested in the sport?
Answer: I just wanted to try something new in third grade and actually ended up loving the sport, making me want to play club volleyball as well.

Q: What do you like about being part of the PHS Volleyball team?
A: I love that being on the Providence team is like being a part of a second  family. I’m so close with every person on the team and have made so many good friends through the program.

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: I’m really looking forward to postseason and the road to state!

Q: What has been your favorite service activity?
A: My favorite service project I’ve done is when the volleyball team all went to St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Charities Women and Children’s Home to help clean up the living space for the mothers and their kids. I really liked interacting with the women there and seeing how our simple actions brightened their day.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: My favorite subject is Spanish because I find it really interesting to learn the language as well as the culture.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is the overall atmosphere here at Providence. Anyone can see that this is a school that values not only education, but also emphasizes all other aspects of student life.

Q: What are your college plans at this point?
A: Currently, I’m thinking about attending the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington.

Brynna Walthers, senior defensive specialist, is in the House of Justice, a Student Ambassador, and a member of the Pinterest, ProLife, and Corn Hole clubs, the National Honor Society, and several service organizations. She has been playing volleyball since fourth grade and has played year round with club and school ever since.

Question: How did you get interested in the sport?
Answer: A lot of my friends were wanting to play, and I immediately loved it.

Q: What do you like about being part of the PHS Volleyball team?
A: I love being part of the PHS volleyball team because it is a second family with my teammates and coaches. We spend so much time together as we compete together, study together, do service together, and generally support each other constantly. It’s an amazing group of people!

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: I’m looking forward to our volleyball team being really successful in our postseason, my senior retreat, and senior year-end activities with all my close friends.

Q: What has been your favorite service activity?
A: This year, my favorite service activity was when the volleyball team spent a day of service for St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Charities, and it was really special working together and accomplishing a lot of very helpful tasks for the residents and workers there.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school and why?
A: My favorite subjects in school would be a tie between language arts and history classes because I’ve had amazing teachers in both areas who have taught me so much about what I’m interested in long-term.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite parts of being a Pioneer are the friends I’ve made and the faith-filled environment and awesome spirit of our school.

Q: What are your college plans at this point?
A: At this time, I’ve not decided which college I plan on attending, but I’m planning a career in law.

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Pioneer Profiles: A look at 4 more athletes

We continue with our fall sports student-athletes profiles. This week we feature seniors Bradon Dykes (Cross Country), Carson Carrico (Boys Tennis), and Hanna Mitchell (Volleyball), and sophomore Laura Strahm.

Bradon Dykes started running Cross Country for the first time his freshman year when he was looking for a new sport and has run been running since. He also participates in Track & Field in the spring. Here is his Q&A:

Question: Why did you first start participating in this sport?
Answer: I started because I needed a sport and didn’t want to play high school soccer.
Q: What do you like about this sport?
A: I like it’s simplicity.
Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: Hopefully, I’m looking forward to improving times.
Q: What is your favorite subject at school?
A: My favorite subject is science and always has been.
Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: My most meaningful service project was probably making and distributing lunches.
Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: Having friends.

Carson Carrico plays No. 1 singles for the Boys Tennis team, a sport he has played for seven years now. Tennis is a year-round sport for him, and he plays in USTA travel tournaments in the off season. He qualified to advance to individual sectionals although his team lost 2-3 to Jeffersonville last night in the opening round. Here is his Q&A:

Question: Why did you first start playing this sport?
Answer: I had watched my brother (Landon ’16, who plays men’s tennis at Hanover College) play, and it seemed like a really fun sport. Also, I had watched pros on TV, and it made me want to go hit even more.

Q: What do you like about this sport?
A: I like how rewarding tennis can be. If you hit every day during the summer, you’re going to get better. It’s a fun game I enjoy playing.

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A. Just having fun with the team and hopefully winning sectionals.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: Business. I plan on majoring in business at UofL or Bellarmine next year so it should help me prepare for college, and I find it interesting.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: Working the fish fry at OLPH has had the most impact. I get to give back to the school I went to for so many years and get to see people I grew up with.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: Everyone is goal-oriented, and we’ve achieved a lot over the past few years. Also, whether it’s in the classroom or on the court, I think Providence has really helped prepare me for college.

Hanna Mitchell is a middle hitter on the Volleyball team, a sport she has played for nine years, including the last four at Providence. Here is her Q&A:

Question: Why did you first start playing this sport?
Answer: I first started playing this sport when I met my best friend, Lilly [Bivens], who also plays it. She introduced it to me and told me I had to give it a try, so I did and I ended up loving the sport.

Q: What do you like about this sport?
A: I like a lot of things about this sport, but I love the competitiveness and being able to work as a team and have to communicate in order to succeed. I feel like it prepares me for my future and has really helped me become a better and more organized person.

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: This season I’m looking forward to playing one more year with my friends and putting everything I have on the court.

Q: What is your favorite subject at school and why?
A: My favorite subject at school is math because I enjoy trying to solve problems and find the solutions to them.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: The most meaningful service project I think I’ve done is volunteering at Northside. I was able to help organize and pack up donated clothes for people who really needed them. I felt like I was really able to help, and it made me feel good.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is coming to school every day and feeling like I’m at home. The community makes you feel welcomed and makes you feel like one big family.

Laura Strahm has been a cheerleader for seven years, and this is her second year on the PHS Cheer Squad. It is her only sport. Here is her Q&A:

Question: Why did you first start playing this sport?
Answer: I first started doing Cheer because I did dance when I was younger. Then my sister (Mikaela ’16) started gymnastics, and I wanted to try it and really liked it, which later led me to cheer.

Q: What do you like about this sport?
A: I love all of my teammates and how happy this sport makes me.

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: I am looking forward to far away games and competitions because I always like driving up there with my teammates, and we have so much fun just spending time with each other. (The Cheerleaders will host a competition on Oct. 22 and then compete at regionals on Oct. 27. IASP State is Nov. 3).

Q: What is your favorite subject at school?
A: My favorite subject in school is math/algebra because I really like working out problems to find an answer, unlike other subjects where you have to study and know the facts to get a good grade. For math you have to know the formulas and how to work it out and you’ll most likely do well.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: My most meaningful service project at school was when I volunteered at the animal shelter with my friends.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is knowing that you belong to a family and all the staff cares about you and wants you to learn to the best of your ability.

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Volleyball senior named All American

Senior Marissa Hornung has been named to the Under Armour First Team All American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. This places her as one of the top 24 volleyball players in the country. She will have the opportunity to play with and against those selected at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, Dec. 15, in conjunction with the 2017 AVCA Convention. The game will be aired on the FloVolleyball channel.

Photo by Amy (Donner) Lorenz ’88

Marissa said she was shocked when she heard the news. She had been ranked No. 54 on the Senior Aces List by PrepVolleyball.com, was selected as the overall camp MVP at the 2017 Purdue Team Camp in the preseason, was selected to the Prep Volleyball Defensive Dandies First Team, was MaxPreps/AVCA Players of the Week for Indiana for the week of Aug. 21, was selected to the IHSVCA Coaches Association Class 4A First Team All-State and has been nominated for the second time for Gatorade Player of the Year, but she never thought she would be considered one of elite recruits in the country.

“I never expected to play in Kansas City and see other people placed on the list too,” she said. “It’s going to be a really good experience.”

Marissa said she is looking forward to the game because it will give her an idea of the faster pace of college volleyball – and as a Purdue recruit, playing with and against some of her future opponents at Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State.

She expects a number of changes once she starts playing in college, starting with her position. She has been an asset on the front row for the Providence varsity throughout her four years. By her senior year, she became the all-time dig leader at Providence with 1381 total career digs (a ball touched by blockers and then played by the defense), and the kill leader with 1556 in her career as a Pioneer, earning nearly 400 kills (point-scoring plays) this season alone. But at the college level, she anticipates moving to the back row because of her size. At 5-foot-seven-inches tall, she is at least five inches shorter than the shortest front-row college volleyball player.

What she doesn’t expect to change in college is one of the reasons she keeps playing volleyball – the friendships. Wherever she has played, from Union to Providence, she has made lifelong friends. She said she chose Purdue because it has the same sense of family that she has experienced at Providence.

Providence alumna Kathy Jewell ’94 is an assistant coach and has been a part of the coaching staff led by Coach Dave Shondell and his brother, John, for 14 years. That longevity helps her feel assured she will fit in with the players recruited by the Shondells. Another attraction to playing at Purdue is the program’s tradition of selling out every home game, so she can expect the same type of electric atmosphere she has experienced at Providence.

What she will miss is playing with her sisters, she said. Her first two years she played with older sister Jacquie ’16, who went on to play at IUPUI for one season and is now at Bellarmine. Playing with her was a chance to play with her idol, to learn from her and to talk with her about their ups and downs on the court. This year, she was the older sister to freshman Ali and she enjoyed “sitting back and watching her shine wearing that jersey.”

When Ali hurt her ankle in the semi-state loss to Avon, Marissa said that as her big sister, she wanted to break down but as the team captain she knew she had to motivate her teammates. So she put her feelings aside and worked to get the team’s mindset back on the game. Still, it was hard not playing her last game with Ali on the court with her.

“It definitely was not the way I wanted it to end, but I have no regrets because of how many games we did get to play this season,” Marissa said.

Marissa said that even though she won’t be playing with (or even against) one of her sisters, she is looking forward to playing in college because she gets to keep playing the game she loves. She started out as a softball player, and her travel team won the World Series one year. But as she began to play for Union Volleyball, she stopped playing softball. She played basketball some too and was on the PHS Girls Basketball team for two years. But volleyball soon became her focus.

Playing volleyball, especially on a team that won 2A and 3A state titles and nearly made it to the 4A state championship, has prepared her for life after high school. As an athlete, she said, she has learned to balance the demands of school, practice and homework – and made the Principal’s List along with sister Ali for the first quarter. She also has learned that to succeed, she must have an “inner passion” to achieve her goal.

But her decision to focus only on volleyball came easily when she realized “there never was a day that I thought, ‘I don’t want to go to volleyball,’” she said.

“I just enjoy playing so much,” Marissa said. “Maybe it’s the people I played with, but it also has to do with just the sport itself.”

Marissa is undecided about the major she intends to pursue at Purdue but anticipates it will be in the communications field.

Coach Purichia gets 500th career win

It was just three years ago that Coach Terri (Blunk) Purichia ’90 earned the milestone of 400 career wins. Late last month, she brought that total up to 500 with the team’s win over 4A Hamilton Southeastern in the Lawrence North Invitational. For Coach Purichia, the number snuck up on her – like her players did with the water bottle bath they gave her in the locker room after the victory. For her, coaching isn’t so much about counting the wins as enjoying the time with her players.

“I just love the players,” she said. “I got into it for the kids, not the wins, not state championships. It’s the kids. That still drives the bus.”

Winning may not be her goal, but her love of the game, of coaching and of her players has continued the winning tradition started by her own coach, Dottie (Galligan) Zipp ’69. In Purichia’s first year as PHS head coach, she took her team to the state finals. She returned seven times, winning the state title three times – in both two 2A and 3A – plus two state runner up titles. She also has won 11 sectional, nine regional, and five semi-state championships. Now in her 19th season at Providence, her career-record stands at 511-180. During her 18 previous seasons, her teams have accumulated 15 seasons of 20 or more wins, seven seasons of 30 or more wins, and four seasons of 35 or more wins, including a school record 37 wins in 2015.

Coach Purichia gives the credit to the players for the recent string of winning seasons, state finals appearances and No. 1 rankings throughout the season whether the team has been aligned in 2A, 3A, or 4A.

“We’ve had the perfect mix of very good talent, great dedication, and really good team chemistry the last six to eight years,” she said. “It takes a lot of commitment from the players to see that turn into the success that we’re having.”

Providence’s success has also aligned with an emergence of volleyball powers in the southern half of the state, a change of the guard from when Muncie area and other northern teams held reign since girls’ volleyball began in the early 1970s. Part of the credit for the rise in the success of programs in the southern half of the state lies in the realignment that moved teams like Avon and Center Grove to the south.

But having a southern team win a state title also freed the mindset for other southern teams to win, she said, just like the PHS Girls Soccer 2011 1A state title did for girls’ sports at Providence. Providence was one of the teams to break that barrier for volleyball. In 2012, Providence was state runner up. In 2013, Providence claimed its first state title, and Barr-Reeve in Montgomery (southwest of Bloomington) won the 1A title. Christian Academy of Indiana was 1A runner up the next year and state champ the year after.

Coach Purichia peps up the team before a recent game.

As Coach Purichia looks at the competition this year for a 4A state title, she sees a tough road, with most of the competition in the south. The Lady Pioneers likely will face a top five team at every level of the postseason.

“The southern half is getting really good volleyball teams,” she said.

Coach Purichia’s players seem to think her success is due to her being “a volleyball addict,” a title they gave her after that water bottle bath. She laughs off that title but admits she is involved with local volleyball on all levels, from Deanery games to coaching club volleyball in the off season. She stays involved because she enjoys it.

“I’ll just keep going as long as I enjoy it,” she said. “I still really like to coach. Maybe I’ll make it as long as Dottie (Zipp, who coached at PHS 21 years and for many more years for club volleyball teams).”

Coach Purichia then realized she’s not too far from that number with 18 years behind her, 18 years she never imagined when then-Athletic Director Don Zipp (Hon. ’13) asked her to take the role on an interim basis.

“When Don hired me, he said, ‘Just take it for a year until I find a coach,’” she said. “I was young, just married, and had been an assistant coach at Noblesville,” so she agreed even though she was intimidated. “I got in here and thought, ‘This is pretty fun.’ I keep wondering if he ever found that coach!”

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