Dave Shondell set many goals when he was named to the Purdue head coaching position in 2003. Purdue, in his words, was a program ripe for a move to the top of the Big Ten, was sitting in one of the three hotbeds for prep volleyball recruiting in the country, and had the tradition and support to become a player on the national level.
The 2004 season brought major steps toward those goals.
Achievement number one came in September when the Boilers appeared in the top 25 rankings for the first time since 1990. Purdue joined four other Big Ten programs in the top 25, coming in at No. 24.
With recruiting being the lifeblood of a successful program, Shondell swore to dominate the recruiting of top state of Indiana talent. As the early signing period came and went at the beginning of the month, Shondell made that second major 2004 step by signing three of Indiana's top players, all who are ranked nationally in the top 50. One recruit Shondell lured to Purdue, 6'4 right side hitter Danita Merlau, ranked as the eighth-best player in the country, according the PrepVolleyball.com. Boilermaker fans had waited a long time to even be a player with nationally ranked top ten type talent in their home state.
And taking another leap on Sunday into that national spotlight, Purdue was chosen as one of the 64 teams to begin play this week in the 2004 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball tournament. It will be the Boilers first appearance in the tournament since 1990.
The Big Ten Conference co-led all conferences with seven selections, with Minnesota and Penn State gaining No. 1 seeds. Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State also joined Purdue from the conference in the round of 64.
The Boilermakers (16-14) first round matchup will be against Colorado State on their home floor in Fort Collins Thursday, December 2, at 7 p.m. (MST). Colorado State enters the tournament with a 26-3 record. The winner of the Colorado State/Purdue game will face the winner of the game between undefeated three-seed Hawaii (28-0) and Colorado (14-13). The round of 32 game will be played on December 3.
If the Boilermakers advance into the Sweet 16, the team returns to the midwest to play the winner of the bracket consisting of Valparaiso (29-4), Notre Dame (20-8), Loyola (Illinois) (21-8) and Wisconsin (19-9) in Green Bay (WI) on December 10. Purdue got a boost into the tournament by beating No. 14 seed Wisconsin on Friday, plus had three victories this year over top 25 teams, including Georgia Tech, Illinois and Missouri.
For a complete NCAA tournament bracket, hit the link below.
READ MORE: 2004 Division I Women's Volleyball Championship Bracket (.pdf)