Rochester raised, Lund and Prondzinski reflect on journey to becoming Redbirds
Written by Jake Fogal on March 30, 2021
NORMAL, Ill. – Volleyball teammates on the court, friends wherever life has taken them, and as of Sunday afternoon, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference champions.
Illinois State volleyball middle blocker Nicole Lund and outside hitter Kaitlyn Prondzinski have been playing pin to pin together since their high school days.
Both Rochester, Minn. natives, Lund and Prondzinski spent time on the same club team for several years before migrating down to Normal, Ill. Separated by a year, Lund began receiving interest as a sophomore in high school from Illinois State, which inadvertently helped Prondzinski as a freshman get looks by the Redbirds.
“Once they started recruiting me, they caught Kaitlyn’s eye. They started recruiting her,” Lund said.
“It was super exciting in that experience because they were able to talk to me about her and I was able to tell them all the good things about her and try to get her to come here. It was a fun experience getting to do that together.”
As the tandem’s teenage years passed, Lund was the first to journey away from Rochester, heading to ISU for her freshman season. Unfortunately for Lund, she sustained an injury and only played five matches through the 2019 season.
Back to 100%, the two are united once again as Prondzinski followed in her club teammates’ footsteps in becoming a Redbird.
“We have always been really good friends, but we have got a bigger bond now that we are here together. Honestly, Nicole is kind of why I am here because she helped me get here by them coming to see her,” Prondzinski said.
“Nicole being here wouldn’t have made me say no, but it definitely was like, ‘[Nicole and I] will be teammates for four more years,’ so it definitely helped for sure.”
Both players have had success since dawning the red and white uniforms. This season, Lund led ISU with 74 blocks and finished fourth on the team in kills with 112. Prondzinski mirrored Lund’s production level, posting the best hitting percentage on the team (.268%) and scoring on 118 kills, third-most on the team.
When reminiscing on the successful times the two had during their club seasons, Lund said that the 2021 spring season has ‘felt like old times,’ while playing alongside Prondzinski.
“I have known her for so long so there is that comfort level. [The] trust is already there. When we play next to each other, I know what is going through her head, she knows what is going through my head just because we have had all those years of experience together,” Lund said.
That kind of chemistry has torn through the Valley in recent weeks as the Redbirds have won six straight. Packing a punch that goes far and beyond Lund and Prondzinski, ISU has five seniors potentially moving on from the team after the season concludes. Luckily for fans, it appears the program will be in safe hands.
Looking forward, the pair of Rochester Redbirds have their sights set on capturing another Valley championship this week during the MVC tournament. ISU begins the festivities against eight seed Indiana State on Thursday at 11 a.m.