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.
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.