Nikki Box played just one season for Steve Shondell before he resigned as the Burris volleyball coach to take over the Ball State women’s program in April 2010.
Upset that she missed out on an opportunity to continue playing for Shondell, Box soon departed from Burris, too, transferring to Yorktown after her freshman school year.
Now after three years of developing into an All-State player at Yorktown, Box is set to reunite with Shondell. The Yorktown senior orally committed Sunday night to play in the back row for him at Ball State.
“I went to Burris with the expectation that he would be my coach,” Box said. “… It’s just really cool that I get to be reunited with a coach I really wanted.”
Box cited her familiarity with Shondell and how their personalities click as the primary reasons she chose the Cardinals over her other finalist, Northern Illinois.
Yorktown volleyball coach Stephanie Bloom vividly recalls back in the fall of 2010 when Box showed up for her first practice with the Tigers. Bloom knew nothing about her, but the Burris transfer cemented her spot on the varsity roster that day with her performance in a serve-receive drill.
“I’ll never forget it. … All of us were like, ‘Wow’ this girl can pass a ball,’ ” Bloom said. “Obviously there was something different about her immediately that we noticed.”
Bloom started the 5-foot-6 Box at outside hitter, and as a senior she totaled a team-best 378 kills for the Class 3A state runner-up Tigers. Box tallied 272 kills as the third hitting option in 2011 when Yorktown won the second state championship in school history.
Even with those impressive kill totals, Box truly left her mark at Yorktown with her extraordinary passing, especially out of serve-receive.
“Since she’s been at Yorktown, she’s been in every serve-receive pattern that we’ve had,” Bloom said. “… She just has a finesse about her when she touches the ball, one of the best platforms I think I’ve every really seen in a player.”
Box split her time at Yorktown practices between hitting and passing drills. She expects to benefit from concentrating solely on the back row at Ball State practices.
The Yorktown senior will try this fall as a freshman to crack a Ball State rotation already stacked with talented defensive specialists. The Cardinals return libero Catie Fredrich and defensive specialists Taylor Richardson and Kati Vasalakis. Box played with Vasalakis on the 2011 Yorktown state title team.
“Of course, going into the college level you’re worried about playing time,” Box said, “but I’ve competed my whole life and I’m just going to go and continue what I’ve been doing and compete and see where I end up.”