Purdue football won, IU lost, ND lost, Purdue volleyball and soccer won, and I got to enjoy the amazing Drew Brees special late Saturday/early Sunday at Triple XXX this weekend. The only way this weekend could have been more perfect is if basketball started as well hanging a new banner in the new Mackey Arena. It was an exciting week on the volleyball court with rival Indiana coming in Wednesday night and #14 Minnesota Saturday night (Robbie, you can come out of your protective bubble now, the Gophers have already flown home). I am keeping this update short and sweet mostly because I had a busy weekend and a busy week ahead of me, so over the net (or jump) we go!
On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers came in for the Battle of the Monon Spike Part 1 (volleyball's version of the Old Oaken Bucket). IU came in dead last in the Big Ten without a single B1G win, so I was expecting our Lady Boilers to easily sweep the Hoosiers in 3 sets. It seemed to be heading in that direction after dominating the first set 25-13. However, after IU changed their line-up and rotation before the 2nd set, Purdue came out to a slow start and IU led for a majority of the 1st part of the set until Purdue caught up. After changing leads multiple times, IU eventually won the 2nd set 32-30 after a few bad calls by the ref. I never believe in blaming the ref for blowing the game in any sport. If the team does not want to be in that situation, they need to play better so they do not have to depend on the referee calling one or two plays for or against them. Granted there are some exceptions here and there, but overall it is up to the teams to make sure those situations never occur. Purdue still came out sluggish in the 3rd set, and after IU took a 8-4 lead, the Lady Boilers came back, had a similar experience in the 2nd set, but ultimately won 25-23.
Purdue was looking to put away IU in the 4th, but IU had momentum going from the wild 2nd set a pulling in close in the 3rd to help them win the 4th set in similar fashion 25-23. It came down to the very important 5th set to determine whether the Monon Spike would get an extra P and relax in West Lafayette for a few more months, or if it would be getting an I and making the miserable trip to Bloomington. Ariel Turner said "No mas!" and helped Purdue get out to a 5-1 lead in the 5th set and taking the Hoosiers out of it early to win the 5th set 15-6 and win the match 3-2. Ultimately, it was disappointing that we were not able to put away the Hoosier in 3-4 sets. I know our team is better than this, as we swept a much better Hoosier squad last year at home. Credit IU for not stepping down from a challenge and upsetting their rival, at this point, all IU can do is play spoiler, and they nearly pulled it off on Wednesday. Turner had a typical night with 28 kills, but she seemed to be the only bright spot along with contributions from T. Fisher, Nichol, and Davis as the team committed 31 attack errors. If we were to have these numbers against any other Big Ten team, Purdue could have been swept out of the gym. Luckily IU committed 30 attack errors and 16 service errors to help Purdue pull off the win.
Saturday night was the annual Dig for a Cure match, which has extra meaning this year with the team being hit directly with cancer last season as Jaclyn Hart's father was diagnosed with cancer after beating Penn State and Dave Shondell's mother died a week after the Elite 8 game in December. Fans were asked to wear pink as well as donate to cancer research through a silent auction and Cans for Cancer. It also was an exciting match-up between 2 Top 15 teams with #14 Minnesota coming to town. It had been a few years (at least 4-5) since Purdue last beat Minnesota in volleyball, and this was our only chance to beat the Gophers as with the mix up in the Big Ten, Purdue will only play Wisconsin and Minnesota once in the regular season. Though Minnesota opened up to a quick 4-2 lead, Purdue was able to get a small rally going to overcome the Gophers' hot start and win the set 25-16. However, Purdue's 2nd set troubles continued as Minnesota won 25-20. I am not sure what has been going wrong in our 2nd sets, but it does worry me and I do hope we can fix the issues before we hit the road for the latter half of the season. The 3rd set experienced many ties and lead changes, but Purdue came out victorious and won 25-19, using that momentum to win the 4th set 25-14 and the match 3-1. Turner once again led the way with 17 kills as Tiffany Fisher contributed 10 kills to the team's 45 kill total. Over the week, Blair Bashen improved her game and her digs as libero and seems to be communicating better. It also doesn't seem good for Carly Crammer, she has only played once (at Nebraska October 7th) since she experienced a stress fracture in her femur, and I have yet to see her actively practice with the team, let alone even run. So Blair, please stay consistent and continue improving your game, you are going to be our libero for the rest of the season.
Up next for the #11 Boilermakers, they travel to Pure Michigan for a battle against #22 Michigan in Ann Arbor Friday night before the Purdue football team plays in the Big House for Michigan's Homecoming. It will be a tough atmosphere in Ann Arbor, so if Purdue is going to win, they need to play the way they did against Minnesota and not IU. If not, they will get their 4th lose of the year. Same goes for the game in East Lansing Saturday night against the Spartans. MSU is dangerous, and though they are not in the Top 25, they are receiving 11 votes in the polls. It is possible that our Lady Boilers come out of the weekend 0-2, which will certainly hurt their momentum going into their battle with #3 Illinois at home November 2nd. Now if you excuse me, it's time to go work on my Statistics and Differential Equations projects.