Former Purdue star Valerie Nichols was a two-time All-Northeast Region and All-Big Ten selection as well as a third-team AVCA All-American selection in college. Now as a professional, she has found success in Poland. After starting her professional career with two seasons in Germany’s Bundesliga with Stuttgart, the 24-year-old 6’3″ setter is set to undergo her second season in the Polish league, a more competitive and demanding competition.
Valerie has led LKS Lodz to a pre-season tournament win against Radomka Radom, RC Cannes, and Legionovia Legionowo. This is important for both Nichols and the team, as changing setters can lead to a long adaptation period, and for a team that finished its domestic campaign as league vice champions last season, its best and a confidence builder that this transition goes as smooth as possible.
She spoke to Piotr Woźniak about her first few games with the team:
You defeated all teams in the tournament. What kind of knowledge do you take from this week?
I think that every possibility of playing at this stage of the season is for us a positive experience. For sure this weekend spent in Radom will give us more materials to work with, which will translate into the specificity of training in the court and at the gym. This is the time in which the team is formed, and every victory builds it.
How did you acclimatize to the new team?
I feel good here, it soon turned out that we are creating a harmonious group. I also like Łódź itself, but the atmosphere is what definitely sets us apart and will be the strength of our team.
In the previous season, you were at Wrocław. The biggest difference between the game in Wroclaw and Lodz are the higher expectations?
It’s not just that expectations are higher. There are many differences between these teams. The biggest one is the fact that in Wroclaw we were a very young team. In this case, the atmosphere is built on the basis of youth, it is a bit different. Here the quality of the project gives us experienced players and trainers who help us so much that we are all one on the court.
Before playing for Wroclaw, you performed in the Bundesliga, where you were a league runner up twice. Why after these successes did you decide to try your hand at LSK?
It was a decision dictated mainly by the desire to develop and continue the career path I took. I moved from Germany to Poland to play with better teams and I think that by changing the club from Wroclaw to Lodz, I also took another step forward.
You started your volleyball career at the beach. Are you taking advantage of it now?
Yes, of course, I’m now using everything I’ve learned on the beach. I live in Florida, it was also difficult to “avoid” the beach. (smile)