March 26, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A trio of Boilermaker volleyball players were selected to and have accepted positions on the 48-member USA Volleyball Women's National A2 Program teams. Junior Ariel Turner, an outside hitter who also made the A2 team in 2011, freshman middle blocker Kierra Jones and freshman setter/outside hitter Val Nichol were chosen from a group of 207 athletes who auditioned at the USA National Team open tryouts, Feb. 10-12.
Training for the A2 Program begins on June 26 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio, while matches will take place June 30 to July 4 during the USA Volleyball Junior National Championship (GJNC) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. During the pre-tournament training sessions, the 48 athletes will be divided into four teams of 12 players that will play one match per day during the GJNC. The matches will feature A2 teams competing against each other in a round-robin format followed by a semifinal and final round.
The 2012 U.S. Women's National A2 Program includes eight setters, 12 middle blockers, 14 outside hitters, six opposites and eight liberos. A total of 34 colleges and universities are represented in the group, while seven Big Ten players, including Jones, Nichol and Turner, are in the listing. Seven players, including Turner, are repeat A2 selections from 2011.
Keylor Chan (Northwestern), Deitre Collins-Parker (San Diego State), Tanya Johnson (Georgia Tech), Nina Matthies (Pepperdine) and Jeff Stork (Cal State Northridge) will serve as coaches for the U.S. Women's National A2 Program in 2012. One additional coaching position will be filled at a later date.
Turner is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, who received AVCA first team All-America honors and second team Academic All-America accolades. She ranked in the top six nationally in both kills per set (4.84) and points per set (5.46), also leading the Big Ten in both categories. Turner posted double-digit kills in 32 matches, including 20 or more nine times. She also picked up a league record-tying five Big Ten Player of the Week nods in 2011, while pacing the Boilermakers offensively and adding 2.43 digs per set, second most on the team. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native, also garnered Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten honors while setting a Purdue season record for hitting attempts with 1682, snapping a mark set in 1979. Turner led the Boilermakers in kills 32 times, digs three times and blocks twice while also tallying the 1000th kill and 500th dig of her career.
Jones, who was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection in 2011, ranked 44th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten with a team-best 1.22 blocks per set. The rookie also averaged 1.44 kills per set, while hitting .350, ranking fourth in the Big Ten. The three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and two-time Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week honoree led the team in blocks 17 times in 2011. The Fishers, Ind., native hit .250 or better in 22 matches, including .300 or better 18 times.
Nichol saw action in 31 matches, starting two for the Boilermakers, playing mostly as an outside hitter. The Normal, Ill., native averaged 2.11 kills per set, third most on the team, and posted double-digit kill tallies on six occasions. She hit .250 or better in 12 matches, including .300 or better nine times, and led the team in blocks twice.
In 2011, the trio helped Purdue reach the NCAA Division I Tournament Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16) for the fifth time in the last seven years, making the school one of just nine in Division I to achieve the feat. The Boilermakers are slated to play in four spring tournaments, beginning at the Indy Collegiate Invitational on March 31 at the Capitol Sports Center in Plainfield, Ind. Fans can see Purdue in action at home on April 14.