Sept. 27, 2012

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Paralympic volleyball medalist
proud of team’s play in London

By Tom Campbell


Purdue's Kendra Lancaster (front row, second from the right) captained the U.S. sitting volleyball team to a silver medal at the recently completed Paralympic Games in London, England. (Photo provided)













Kendra Lancaster, BS ’10, added another medal to her growing stash of Paralympic metal at the recently completed London Games.

The Purdue graduate was a member of the sitting volleyball team that won the silver, losing to the mighty Chinese team in four sets by scores of 22-25, 25-15, 32-30 and 25-15 in the gold medal game on Sept. 7.

The bitterness of finishing second was sweetened by having a cheering section consisting of her sister, mother, grandmother and two of her best friends from Purdue.

“Having people there from home was such a great feeling, and I really appreciate them all coming out to cheer on me and the rest of the team,” Lancaster said.

Winning the gold would have given Lancaster a complete set of Paralympic medals, adding to the silver she won at the Beijing Games in 2008 and the bronze she won in Athens in 2004.

It was the Chinese team that beat the U.S. in Beijing and at the world championships in 2010, and again proved too much for the U.S. team in London.

Coming Thursday, Oct. 4:

Ralph Green, MS ’50, PhD ’54, was one of 79 World War II heroes who participated in a Lafayette-based honor flight to Washington, D.C., recently. Tom Campbell accompanied Green, a professor emeritus of botany and plant pathology, to document his trip in a story for the next issue of Purdue Agriculture Connections. We’ll share a sneak peek at several of the photos from the trip in the next ConnectionsNOW!

“I’m not going to lie to you, being second to the Chinese team is getting old,” Lancaster said by e-mail while traveling through Europe recently.

Lancaster, who is putting the finishing touches on her master’s degree in youth development and agricultural education, was appointed captain of the U.S. team prior to the London Games. She is proud of what the team accomplished there.

“In Beijing and at the World Championships in 2010, we didn't put up too much of a fight when you look at the scoreboard (losing 3-0 in both finals),” Lancaster said.

“This time around we really gave them a battle, and we played our hearts out.

Taking them to 32 points in the prelims, and then again in the gold medal match, is a pretty good indication that our two teams are well matched. Both sides played their absolute best, and both left everything on the court. We didn't lose that match, China won it, and I think that that's the key difference. Sure, we came in second again, but there will be other tournaments, and I think we're all very proud of the way we played.”

Lancaster was involved in a terrible automobile accident in May of 2012. Her participation in the London Games was never a certainty while she went through an extensive rehabilitation program.

“Just being in London for the games was truly a blessing for me,” Lancaster said. “After my accident last year, there were points in time where I was afraid I wouldn't get to be there. London did a fantastic job of hosting and put on a magnificent show, and I'm so thankful that I was able to be there with my team to experience it.”

How the game is played

Sitting volleyball has been a competition sport at every Paralympic event since 1980. The net is 3 feet high, and participants must keep some part of their upper body (from the shoulders to the buttocks) in contact with the ground when making contact with the ball. Other traditional volleyball rules apply.

Now back at full health and buoyed by her teammates’ ability to close the gap on the Chinese team, Lancaster is setting her sights on another shot at beating the Chinese team in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

“As of now, I'm taking volleyball one year at a time with plans to go to Rio,” she said. “Four years is a long time, but I didn't go through all that rehab to play for a just a couple of months. I think our team is going in a great direction heading toward Rio 2016, and I hope to be a part of it.”

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