VALPARAISO | Noelle Eveland didn’t quite know what to expect in her first year at Valparaiso last season.
The junior transfer arrived from Geneva High School (Ill.) last fall and decided to be quiet and follow along on a team that already had a dynamic leader in Tarrah Lasky.
With Lasky taking her talents across town to Valparaiso University and Eveland having a year of experience on Campbell Street under her belt, the senior is ready to make her presence felt this season.
“I spent all of last year listening and learning,” Eveland said. “Now it’s time to be heard. It’s my time to be one of the leaders on this team.”
Valparaiso coach Katie Lenard has seen enough from Eveland this season to know that the transition from quiet transfer to experienced leader is complete.
“Last year Noelle just did what I needed her to do,” Lenard said. “Now she’s more comfortable. She’s used to the way things work, the way the program works, and the way the school works.”
Eveland was new to almost every aspect of Valparaiso volleyball last season. Games against Chesterton and LaPorte meant nothing to the six-foot outside hitter; until the Vikings lost.
“People would tell me who our rivals were and it didn’t mean much to me,” Eveland said. “Once we lost to someone, they became the team that I wanted to beat more than anything.”
Eveland, a Times' First Team All-Area selection last year, has the talent to follow in the long line of Division I players that have come out of Valparaiso in recent years, but Eveland has other ideas. Following her sophomore season and before she transferred to Valparaiso, Eveland gave a verbal commitment to Division II Michigan Tech, a commitment she plans on honoring.
“People make such a big deal about being D1, but it’s about fit and I feel very comfortable with my coaches at Michigan Tech,” Eveland said. “Knowing I’m going there gives me all the more focus for my current team. I owe it to Valparaiso to have my eye on this team.”
Eveland not only has her eye on her own team, but with a year of experience under her belt, Eveland now has her eye on the rest of the Duneland Athletic Conference.
“It’s going to be different this year,” Eveland said. “Being a leader comes naturally to me. I’m loud and I like to take control. We feel pressure this year, but we’re ready to face the pressure.”