Nov. 14, 2005
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Players from Illinois, Indiana and Texas, including three listed among the nation's Top 60 recruits, will join the Boilermaker volleyball team as the class of 2010, head coach Dave Shondell announced on Monday. Katie Bremner (Rockford, Ill.), Sarah "Sam" Gray (Indianapolis, Ind.), Carrie Gurnell (Katy, Texas) and Lisa Pierce (Darien, Ill.) have signed National Letters of Intent to play volleyball for Purdue beginning in 2006.
"What I like most about this group is the caliber of people that they are," Shondell said. "These are wonderful young women who will find their niche in our program one way or another. I like how they really fit our needs, much like our 2005 class did. We lose a senior setter and we are bringing one in. We lose two outside hitters in Wischmeier and Franke and we are bringing in two outsides, including Gurnell who gives us versatility. These players with fight early for opportunities to play and if we redshirt Katie, it will allow more playing time for her down the road."
Bremner, a 5-8 outside hitter at Boylan Catholic High School, is a two-time all-state honoree. The four-year letterwinner garnered Honorable Mention All-State accolades as a sophomore and first team honors from the Champaign News-Gazette her junior year under retired coach Kristi Dickmann. The two-time team captain was named NIC-9 Conference MVP for the second straight year in 2005, to follow her NIC-9 All-Conference team honors as a sophomore. Thus far during her senior season under coach Mike Bui, Bremner has been named to the Algonquin-Jacobs Varsity Invitational and Stillman Valley Fall Classic all-tournament teams, marking her third straight appearance on the teams. As a junior, she was named among Who's Who in Sports and as WREX Channel 13 Athlete of the Week. In the club ranks, the daughter of William and Martha Bremner, has played for Club Fusion (2005) and the Rockford Club (2003-2004).
"Katie is a real crafty player," Shondell said. "She has played the outside hitter position all of her career, in both high school and club, but she will be a defensive specialist here. She is a very smart player. She has a great personality, is a real competitor and hates to lose. She will fit great with the players we already have on our team. We are considering redshirting her to put some distance between her and the back court players we already have."
Gray, a 5-10 setter at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, was ranked as the No. 57 player of prepvolleyball.com's list of senior aces. The three-time all-state honoree led Brebeuf to the 3A state title in both 2003 and 2005 under head coach Brian Murray. Thus far as a senior, Gray has garnered numerous accolades including Indianapolis Star Super Team Player of the Year, All-Marion County Player of the Year for the second straight season and All-North Player of the Year. She also was named to the All-Marion County and All-North first teams after posting 962 assists, 123 kills and 65 aces. As a junior, the Indianapolis native was named first team all-state, all county and to the Indianapolis Metro Super Team, while racking up 1051 assists, 132 kills and 72 aces. After leading her team to the state title as sophomore, Gray earned first team all-county and Indianapolis metro honors, while also garnering second team all-state accolades and being named as one of prepvolleyball.com's super seven sophomores. As a freshman, the setter was named first team all-county and to prepvolleyball.com's Freshman 40 list. Gray was a member of the USAV club team from 2002-2004, helping the team to a second place finish in 2004 and a fifth-place finish in 2002. The daughter of Richard and Earlene Gray also played for the USAV Youth A2 team in 2002 and 2003.
"Sam's strength is her knowledge of the game and her ability to set a consistent ball," Shondell said. "She is a setter that will come in ready to play at the Big Ten level due to her vast experience, her knowledge of the game and her high volleyball IQ. She sees a lot of things that other setters don't see. She sees the defense very well. She is only 5-foot-10, but she makes up for it with her understanding of the game and her leadership skills. She will come in and fill a valuable role for us. Sam will fight for a starting spot the day she arrives and she is capable of getting the job done."
Gurnell, a 6-0 outside hitter on the Cinco Ranch High School team, is listed as the No. 11 player on prepvolleyball.com's Senior Aces list. She has earned three varsity letters in volleyball as well as three in track and one in basketball. A two-time Houston Chronicle Player to Watch, Gurnell was named Player of the Week by both the Houston Chronicle and Ford as a senior, while leading her team to an undefeated district championship and the Katy ISD Tournament championship under coach Tammy Laurence. She also has earned Most Valuable Spike accolades at the Springbranch tournament and all-tournament team honors at the Pearland tournament. As a junior, Gurnell was named All-Texas State second team, first team all-district, team Co-MVP and as a Springbranch all-tournament team selection. The two-time all-district honoree helped her team to an undefeated district championship season as a sophomore en route to the team's defensive award. The Katy, Texas native, lettered in track each of her first three years, garnering team Co-MVP honors as a freshman and sophomore. Gurnell earned the John Beauchamp Most Outstanding Female award at the KISD Invitational track meet as a sophomore, while also lettering in basketball. The daughter of Steven and Cathy Gurnell was a member of the Youth National Team A2 this year and also played for the Texas Tornados 18 Nike team that placed fifth at the Junior Olympics in 2005.
"I feel that Carrie is one of the top five volleyball athletes in this senior class," Shondell said. "She has much to learn, but I think she can develop into one of the best players Purdue has ever had. She is a great leaper, a physical player with great charisma on the floor. She also brings versatility to the lineup for us because she can play on the left, in the middle or on the right side. She is the kind of athlete we are looking for and I can't wait to get her into our environment and start training her. She will be a great asset to our team."
Pierce, a 6-0 outside hitter at Hinsdale South High School, is ranked 38th on the prepvolleyball.com list of Senior Aces. The three time captain was named to the Chicago Sun Times All-Area First Team and all-area team after leading her team to the regional title in 2005. The Darien, Ill., native also garnered all-tournament team honors at the Waubousle and St. Charles East invitationals during the season. As a junior, Pierce earned all-state, all-area and all-West Suburban Gold Conference honors after setting an Illinois High School record with 373 kills during the season, including a record 28 in one match. She also was named to the Wabousle High School all-tournament team and earned the Hinsdale South Breakfast Club award, while pulling up 251 digs and serving up 78 aces. A member of the Dean's List for the last three years, Pierce competed in track as a freshman, earning all-conference honors as part of the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relay teams. The outside hitter has played club volleyball for Club Elite, located in Downers Grove, Ill., and First Alliance of Chicago, located in Western Springs, Ill., over the last six years, acting as co-captain of her team for five years. The daughter of Gregory and Carol Pierce helped her team place in the top 15 of the nation at the Junior Olympic Nationals five years, while garnering All-Tournament team honors at the 2004 tournament in Houston.
"Lisa is an electrifying athlete," Shondell said. "She is a great jumper, has a fast arm and is a real high level athlete. She has great potential at the college level. She is a natural outside hitter with long arms and fast arms and she is tough competitor. .She is the ideal player we are looking for. She can play all six rotations. She has the physical tools to be a great back court player as well as a great front row player. I fully expect her to blossom into a multi-dimensional player at Purdue."
The quartet will join the Boilermakers, who will lose five seniors, setter Renata Dargan, outside hitters Marie Franke and Leah Wischmeier, middle hitter Sarah Vitali and defensive specialist Lauren Berg at season's end. Purdue is currently 21-6, including a 10-6 mark in the Big Ten.