To date, the crop of 2005 players that have made oral commitments to Dave Shondell and the Boilermakers is nothing short of outstanding. One of Purdue's incoming players for the 2005-06 season, Danita Merlau, has been rated the No. 8 player in the nation in the Class of 2005 by Prep Volleyball. The other two, middle blocker Stephanie Lynch and left side/libero Kelli Miller, are ranked among the top 50 players in the nation.
Heading the class is the 6'4 Merlau, a right side hitter from Indianapolis Cathedral High. Called one of the state's most powerful outside attackers, Merlau uses her size and work ethic to dominate the position. Capable of playing anywhere on the front row, Merlau also adds a deadly jump serve that is already collegiate quality.
Stephanie Lynch of New Albany High (IN), is a 6'3 middle blocker that is a beast on the court. Lynch comes in as Prep Volleyball's No. 25 player in the Class of 2005, and is descibed as "the Bill Walton of middle attackers" for her knowledge of the game and good decisions. She has developed into a threat anywhere in the six rotation. Lynch is also an all-state performer in basketball, but has no current plans to be a two-sport athlete at Purdue.
Coming in at No. 48 in Prep Volleyball's rankings is Kelli Miller of Muncie Central High (IN). Miller plays on the same summer team as Merlau, and is another accomplished all-around player. At 5'7, she is still an intimidating hitter. Indications are she may get a shot at left side at Purdue, but is strong enough defensively to be a libero. The strongest part of her game is ball control, both in passing and in hitting. Miller will join her former high school coach, Dave Shondell, for the 2005-06 season.
Shondell was also being mentioned in connection with 6'0 Anjelica Partridge of Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga (TN), a middle blocker. But Partridge chose Georgia over a host of interested programs that included Purdue, Minnesota, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Illinois. While her future area of study is a Purdue specialty, pharmacy, a decision to be close enough to home for her parents to attend SEC games made a large impact on her choice.
Not resting on a potentially excellent 2005 recruiting haul, Shondell has gone out and received an early commitment from Class of 2006 setter Sam Gray of Indianapolis Brebeuf. The 5'10 Gray is mentioned as one of the top setters in the state, if not THE best setter in the state, and currently has the second-highest hitting efficiency rating in the Indianapolis area (that includes power hitter Danita Merlau). Gray was ranked as a top 50 player as a freshman and has continued to develop her hands since then.
Purdue has also received a commitment from Class of 2007 outside hitter Mandy Nichols, the 6'1 daughter of former Purdue basketball standout Jerry Nichols, who helped Purdue knock off then-ranked North Carolina on the way to the team's 1974 NIT Championship. Nichols plays for Center Grove High (IN), and is averaging just over three kills per game.
Shondell's first recruiting class landed him at No. 27 on Prep Volleyball's top recruiting class rankings. The staff looks to take a leap in those rankings when the Class of 2005 is said, done and signed.
Some interesting points --
- Nine of the nations top 30 Class of 2005 players have committed to Big Ten programs.
- Minnesota, Penn State and Purdue all have three top 50 players in the Class of 2005 committed.
- Of the 23 currently known verbal commitments for the Class of 2006, the Big Ten holds 7 of them.
- Of the four verbal commitments for the Class of 2007, Purdue has the only Big Ten verbal to date.