VALPARAISO | When coaches hear they're getting a transfer student, they secretly hope for a "franchise" player.
It's no secret now that Valparaiso coach Katie Lenard is happy about Noelle Eveland, who transferred to Valparaiso from Geneva High School in Illinois last spring.
"She is a dream move-in," Lenard said. "I'm a P.E. teacher and I had her in class, but hadn't seen her play. You hear things, but you never really know how they'll fit into the equation. She's been a nice addition to the team."
Eveland has been a great addition to the Vikings (27-9), who beat LaPorte, Crown Point and Michigan City to win the sectional title Saturday night.
Valparaiso faces DAC nemesis Lake Central in the Valparaiso Regional tonight. The Vikings lost to the Indians in two of three matchups this season, including a five-set loss that went down to the last point to end the conference season.
"We showed when we play our best, we can beat them," Eveland said. "When we played them on our home court, we beat them in three. It's just a matter of us not doing our 'roller coaster thing' as Coach Lenard calls it."
Eveland has been a constant for the Vikings and a go-to player in the sectional.
The junior outside hitter recorded 22 kills against Crown Point and 12 kills in the sectional title match against Michigan City.
"Noelle has been a major contributor for us," Lenard said. "When some of the girls struggle, she's been a go-to person. I'm glad she moved here."
Eveland didn't have any problems settling in to the Vikings' rotation. She's an outside hitter who also plays a few rotations at middle, a few rotations in the back row and serves.
"Coach Lenard calls me multifaceted," Eveland said. "I prefer hitting outside but I'll be whatever they need me to be.
"No one was difficult to get along with when I joined the team. They're all super nice. It was just a matter of me finding a spot on the team."
The Vikings aren't going to let anyone take Eveland's spot, especially tonight.
"The loss to Lake Central is still fresh," Eveland said. "We have to go back to the points that worked for us and fix the points that caused us problems.
"I don't feel it'll be that stressful if we play our game. Especially at homewhere it feels like we play effortlessly. We don't want to be the team sitting in silence at the end and have to walk off the court with our heads down."