'Getting to Know the Block' with Stephany Purdue
What could possibly bring someone from a small city in southern Mississippi all the way to Arizona? For fifth-year senior Stephany Purdue, it was beach volleyball — but beach volleyball hasn't always been her sport of choice.
At the age of 10, Purdue picked up indoor volleyball, and later played on a club team high school. After being recruited while playing in Colorado, she moved from Phoenix to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to continue her career as an indoor volleyball player at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she started all four years as an outside hitter.
“It was the right place for me," Purdue said. "Even though it was a culture shock living in the south, it was a good spot for me."
She never had intentions of moving to Tucson following her final season with the Eagles, but that all changed for her soon enough.
One day, Purdue’s ex-club coach from high school texted her saying University of Arizona head beach volleyball coach Steve Walker had a spot for her on the team.
“It was super late when I committed, maybe sometime around May,” Purdue said.
Having played only a couple of sand volleyball tournaments prior to committing, she knew the transition from court volleyball to sand volleyball was not going to be an easy one.
“I was a little nervous because of the physicality of playing on sand," she said. "It’s harder to run, jump and move in general."
Purdue spent her first fall semester adjusting to new courts with the help of her coaches. Despite growing up playing indoors, Purdue said she enjoys playing sand now.
“Playing in sand is a ton of fun because it’s only two people on the court [as opposed to six in indoor volleyball], which means you can touch the ball a lot more," she said. "Working with one other person is easier and more personal.”
This season, Purdue is paired with senior Hailey Devlin. So far, they are undefeated, 4-0, as a pair. They have beat strong teams such as Cal Poly, TCU, Santa Clara and San Jose State.
Purdue has high hopes this season of helping to bring her team to Gulf Shores when May rolls around.
“I’m only here for a year, so I’m trying to make as big of an impact as I can for the team,” Purdue said.
Purdue has not yet determined what she plans to do after college, however she hopes to find her way back to a volleyball-related career, whether it’s coaching or playing for a team.
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