Ever since the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to fall athletes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been discussion on what players would return to what sports. The football team benefited greatly with the return of senior quarterback Kenny Pickett. Jake Wentzel, who reached the finals at the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, is coming back for another year.
And now, the volleyball team got some great news with both seniors Kayla Lund and Chinaza Ndee announcing they are returning for another season.
While other players emerged this season, Lund and Ndee were the team’s top two hitters. Both were recognized on a national level, being named Second Team All-Americans. Getting one back would have been a big boost but getting both back is just fantastic.
The volleyball team had unprecedented success in the NCAA Tournament this year, reaching the Elite Eight. The team even held a 2-0 set lead over Washington to reach the Final Four but came up short, losing 3-2.
Without Lund and Ndee, the team’s top two offensive players, the team seemed set up for a bit of a rebuild heading into next year. The Panthers wouldn’t have been starting from scratch. They would have been relying upon established players like Valeria Vazquez Gomez and Jordan Lockwood to step up and play a bigger role, while working in some new hitters at the same time. But now, the Panthers will return as a favorite to reach the Final Four and should surely enter the season as one of the nation’s best teams and probably should garner a preseason ranking in the top ten.