I meant to write this article Saturday night after the Penn State match. However, after a road trip to the #8 Purdue/#25 Ohio State Volleyball game in Columbus Friday night, tailgating before the Iowa game, the actual football game itself, enjoying a fine bowl of Boilermaker Tailgate Chili prepared by Mr. and Mrs. T-Mill themselves after the game, a lovely dinner at Earhart, and then listening to the volleyball game that night, I ultimately entered the Boilermaker Coma around 9:30pm and didn’t wake up until about 10:30am the next day (I don’t even remember the last time I slept that long). I pondered throughout all of Sunday what I should write. I sat there in Mackey as the Women’s Basketball team took care of business against Tennessee-Martin, not knowing how to react to this weekend. Then I remembered I had assignments to finish before Thanksgiving Break, so I had to finish those up Sunday night into Monday. So here I am, now in the early hours of Tuesday, still wondering how to react to this weekend.
Coach Dave Shondell thanking the Block Party before returning to West Lafayette.
Our Purdue Volleyball team swept then #25 Ohio State in Columbus with the help of 50 Block Party members, as we turned St. John’s Arena into the Boiler Box East and "left our mark" in Columbus. But then Penn State’s Rec Hall continued to be a house of horror Saturday night as Purdue faced a season sweep from the #9 Nittany Lions as they fell 3-1, ending the Lady Boiler’s 10 game winning streak. There were many positives from this weekend, like discovering Amanda Miller’s true potential and how she is a vital member of the team. Many people don’t know Amanda’s story, just that she is usually a bench player for Shondell, but when she does play, she has to wear a protective helmet as an accident last year as left her prone to concussions. BTN had a story on Amanda’s life leading up to her career at Purdue, I will post it below and I highly suggest you watch it.
Her cheer may be "High Life", but early on, it was anything but the High Life.
Amanda came off the bench on Friday night, not only giving Purdue 2 service aces, but led a key rally as server in the back court during the 3rd set that allowed Purdue to regain the lead and win the 3rd set. Miller gave Purdue a needed spark of the bench, and even Coach Shondell mentioned in his post-game interview that she was the player of the night for Purdue. Other players shined in Columbus as well for Purdue, as Turner added 17 kills to her career record, along with 7 kills each from both Tiffany Fisher and Val Nichol. Davis, Turner, Ehlers and Bashen also combined for a solid defensive effort with 44 total digs, preventing the Buckeyes from getting many successful attacks. It was a great night in Columbus as I finally got to see Purdue win on the road, got revenge for our trip with the Paint Crew from January, and we even chanted "just like football" after echoing Hail Purdue throughout St. John’s Arena.
But then came Saturday night. Just as the previous Saturday was possibly one of the greatest days in Purdue sports with football beating OSU and volleyball sweeping #2 Nebraska, November 19th was the opposite and could be filed away with those days we kind of just want to forget. It is nowhere close to the dark days in Purdue sports, but it still didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth, even after some delicious Boilermaker Tailgate Chili. Purdue came out strong in the 1st set behind Ariel Turner’s 9 kills, and won the set 25-22. But as I said last week, it isn’t easy to win in Rec Hall, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Purdue hasn’t won in State College since it began competing at the intercollegiate level in 1975.
Boiler_ward has mentioned on here and in discussions I have had with him that when Turner gets shut down, the rest of the team will collapse, and ultimately that is what happened in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sets, as the Nittany Wall shut down Turner and the rest of the Boilermaker Attack, as Purdue committed 24 attack errors and were blocked 10 times. Penn State ultimately outhit the Lady Boilers 0.285 to 0.169, and outhit Purdue in the 3rd and 4th sets 0.500 to 0.171 and 0.314 to 0.088 respectively, leading to 25-15 and 25-18 victories. Ouch.
Granted, I was not expecting Purdue to pull off the upset in State College this weekend. I predicted Purdue to lose in 4 sets, but I was not expecting for Purdue to just be run over for the 2nd time this year by Penn State. The lose at home had about the same outcome, with a debatable 1st set controversy, but there too Penn State just overpowered Purdue in the 3rd and 4th sets, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. With how good Nebraska has been in their inaugural year in the Big Ten, I was expecting them to win the Big Ten title before this weekend as they end their regular season with 2 home games and 2 road games against bottom feeder Iowa and a collapsing Northwestern team. Nebraska now has to win 1 more game and the Big Ten Title is theirs. Shondell’s squad can’t be too demoralized by this weekend, there were still many positives from the weekend, even with another lose to Penn State.
Correction: Purdue actually last lost to IU in 2009 in 5 sets in West Lafayette
Purdue now has to finish the regular season at Indiana in Bloomington for Round 2 of the Battle for the Monon Spike Wednesday night at Wisconsin in Madison Friday night. In Round 1 of the Battle for the Monon Spike, despite IU being a bottom feeder in the Big Ten, Purdue seemed to play down to their level (a problem that resurfaced against Iowa last week) and needed 5 sets to defeat their rival. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing occurs again this Wednesday, as IU plays their last home game of the season. IU hasn’t beating Purdue since a wild 5 set win at Purdue in 2009, as they can only play spoiler with 1 win in the Big Ten. Purdue should keep the Monon Spike for another year, but it won’t be easy. Wisconsin has been a wild team this year, pulling off upsets at Ohio State and Michigan, but then turned around and lost to teams like Notre Dame and Northwestern, and even losing at home to Ohio State despite beating them in Columbus. Frankly, I am not sure which Wisconsin team Purdue will face. I assume the Badgers will give everything they can throw (or spike) at Purdue as they are still in the hunt for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, and will be looking to ruin Purdue’s Tournament resume. The Lady Boilers need to keep their chins up and their heads above water in Bloomington and Madison this week so they can get a high seed and home court advantage on Selection Sunday this upcoming Sunday.