By Sarah Leggett, GoDuke the Magazine
Graduate student Andie Shelton joined the Duke volleyball program over the summer and has made an immediate impact on the program in just a few weeks.
Shelton became a Blue Devil after spending four years at the University of the Pacific as a two-position player for the Tigers. As one of only two such players in the West Coast Conference in 2017 as a redshirt junior, Shelton garnered All-WCC honorable mention accolades, averaging 5.12 assists, 2.73 kills and 0.82 blocks per set in conference play while also totaling 21 service aces.
During her sophomore year Shelton was the Tigers’ best setter, averaging 7.48 assists per set while amassing 222 total digs, good for the fourth-most on the team.
Shelton made her presence known early for the Blue Devils by recording her first career double-double against then-No. 8 BYU on the first weekend of action with 26 assists and 12 digs.
“It’s definitely been a change of pace,” Shelton said. “Initially I thought that it would be maybe a little crazier because…it’s Duke. I didn’t really know much about Duke before coming. There’s a much bigger focus on academics, which I really appreciate, and like how are you as the athlete feeling. The coaches are always like, ‘How are you feeling? How’s your body doing?’ And the same with our athletic trainers and the facilities are different.”
“The hydration station and the smoothies are just so awesome,” Shelton said. “Being able to play in such a historic gym…My first game I remember I had the first serve of the first game and everyone was there, the band was there and it was crazy! My heart was pounding. Thankfully I made it over the net. It’s definitely an amazing atmosphere here.”
Following undergrad in Stockton, Calif., Shelton had a decision to make — stay at Pacific for a fifth year or continue her volleyball career elsewhere. Ultimately, Shelton landed at Duke and the great road trip began.
Shelton traveled with her mom and boyfriend, a current baseball player at Pacific, to the state of North Carolina in three-and-a-half days, a trip Shelton says was “quite the experience.”
“I’m the type of person who when I’m in a car, I can’t even be in a car for a couple hours without saying, ‘are we there yet?’”Shelton commented. “So the first three hours of the drive I kept asking ‘How much longer?’ It was me, my mom, and my boyfriend and both of them were like, ‘Andie if you are asking that question right now this is going to be a very long car ride.’ It was definitely crazy.”
Although Durham is 2,767 miles from Stockton, it was a somewhat familiar location to the setter.
“What’s weird is that I was actually born in North Carolina so that’s super random,” Shelton said. “I was born in North Carolina and then my whole family and all my friends are all from California. The University of the Pacific was only 15 minutes from my house. So, I’m definitely a homebody. I was recruited by Duke when I was younger so I came on a visit here and I just decided it was too far and that I didn’t want to be that far away from home. But I’m 22 now so this is kind of my last chance to get out and do something different.”
Shelton’s parents moved to North Carolina after they got married for her father’s job with an airline and eventually moved back to Stockton to be close to family.
While Durham is a unique city in itself, Shelton finds comfort in many similarities with her hometown.
“This is funny because I was talking to my parents and even when my boyfriend and brother were here we were saying it’s kind of weird because Durham is very similar to Stockton,” Shelton said. “Just in the way that it’s an older city that’s more hipster-y. That’s kind of where Stockton is trying to go. But, it’s definitely similar so that’s been really cool. The weather is crazy here. First of all, I don’t know what to do with my hair because of the humidity. The weather is probably the biggest difference.”
Fast forward to now, Shelton is currently enrolled in the Masters of Liberal Studies (MALS) program at Duke where she is trying to fit a two-year program into one year.
“It’s a pretty broad master’s that is pretty flexible and allows you to do a lot of different things which I really liked,” Shelton commented. “I was a sociology undergrad and so I really liked how broad it was and how many different paths I could go from there. It is a two-year program usually and I’m trying to get as many classes in during one year as possible.”
Being a Duke student-athlete is already tough enough but Shelton says the workload forces her to buckle down and be disciplined throughout the season.
This season, the Duke volleyball team got off to a 6-5 start with Shelton helping to guide the program to perform at its best. After leading the Blue Devils to a 3-0 weekend in Baton Rouge in August, Shelton was named ACC Player of the Week, making her the first Blue Devil to earn the recognition since 2016. The honor was also Shelton’s third of the week after garnering Tiger Classic MVP and tournament best setter accolades at the LSU event.
Shelton totaled 27 assists, 11 kills and 15 digs in the tournament opener versus USF, notching Duke’s first triple-double since Ali Hausfeld accomplished the feat in 2006. She continued her strong play with double-doubles against both LSU and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to round out the tournament. In Duke’s three weekend matches, Shelton totaled 27 kills, 77 assists, seven service aces, 33 digs and nine blocks to lead Duke to the tournament championship.
“That was crazy,” Shelton said in regards to her first triple-double. “I was so honored to do something like that. For me, it was very much because of the team and because of how supportive the coaches have been. And I’ve had all three of the coaches come up to me personally and say, ‘We really believe in you and we know that you can do all of this.’ I’m able to do something like this because the team has my back. If I give them a bad set, our outsides, middles and right sides are still going to put it away. So, it’s been really awesome.”
Through 15 games, Shelton leads the team in assists (312) and service aces (21) while totaling 101 kills and hitting .247. She is also one of seven players nationally with three or more triple-doubles on the year.
This season, the motto for the team is to play “big girl” volleyball. “I think that’s great,” Shelton said. “We’re in the ACC so we’re never not going to be playing big girl volleyball. That’s what I think is so awesome about that saying because it’s competitive.
“For me I think a big goal is to make it to the tournament and I came in with the mindset of just, ‘I want to do whatever I can to help,’” Shelton said. “Whether it’s hitting, setting, playing defense or sitting on the bench and cheering, I’m really just happy to be here and excited to be able to say that I’ve played for such an amazing school and program. So for me, my mindset is just however I can help I want to.”
Overall, Shelton believes Duke is able to fulfill her personal, athletic and educational goals.
“Duke is a really awesome place and I really do think that it was the best decision for me to come here volleyball-wise, education-wise. For my future I think it’s going to be amazing to say I have a degree from Duke. No matter if you were here for four years or one year. Duke was definitely the right decision and I love the team, I love the coaches and the atmosphere here is just great. It was a great decision.”