Tonight, our #8 Purdue Volleyball team finished the regular season and polished off their tournament resume by sweeping a desperate Wisconsin team in Madison. Purdue finished the season 27-4 overall, with a 16-4 record in conference play, good for a 2nd place finish in the Big Ten, their best finish since 1987. Nebraska claimed the Big Ten Title after beating Iowa Tuesday night (their first ever B1G Conference Title as a member), so all Purdue could do was win two winnable games to at least finish 2nd in the conference and possibly secure home-court advantage in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA Tournament next week.
After coming off a win-lose weekend at Ohio State and Penn State, Purdue travelled to Bloomington Wednesday night for Round 2 of the Battle for the Monon Spike. Last time Purdue and IU met in October, Purdue had one of its worst performances of the year against the lowly Hoosiers and barely missed the upset after winning the match in 5 sets. For IU, this was their championship game and their last chance to get a win at home for their seniors after a horrible season of only 1 conference win (I didn’t know Kevin Wilson also coached the volleyball team, ZING!).
Indiana did come out in the 1st set and immediately started off with a 3-0 lead and never gave it up, even after Purdue tied the score a few times. Some of us might have felt this was déjà vu from the first match this year, as Purdue committed 7 attack errors and 3 service errors. However, Purdue learned its lesson from the first match earlier this year and were able to put the Hoosiers away without much trouble in the next 3 sets, winning them by 25-19, 25-16, and 25-16. Ariel Turner once again led the way with 25 kills and 8 digs, with some help from Kiki Jones who had 9 kills and posted a 0.615 hitting percentage. Despite having a rough start, Bashen finished the night with 16 digs and continues to improve as libero. Senior Tiffany Fisher got to give Indiana hell one last time with 6 kills, 6 blocks and an ace, as she, along with Blair Bashen and Emily Ehlers, got to hoist the Monon Spike with one extra P just one more time in front of the Cream and Crimson. It was an excellent start to hate week, and hopefully Danny’s team will follow suit and bring back home the Bucket as well from Bloomington on Saturday.
After enjoying a Thanksgiving feast with the Shondell’s Thursday, the Boilers travelled up to Madison to face a desperate 16-15 (B1G: 8-11) Badger team coming off a sweep of rival Minnesota Wednesday night. Wisconsin needed at least one more win so their bubble would not burst on Selection Sunday. However, it seemed as if Wisconsin had already given up on their season and just came out flat against Purdue, starting off the 1st set down 3-11 as Purdue played nearly flawless, only committing 3 attack errors and 1 service error. Purdue outhit the Badgers 0.387 to 0.000 in the first set. Yeah, you read that correctly, Wisconsin had 7 kills in that set, but also committed 7 attack errors on 31 total attacks. Though Wisconsin played better in the 2nd and 3rd sets, they simply could not overcome the Boilermaker Attack and were swept and fell to 16-16 on the season and 8-12 in B1G play, potentially bursting their bubble for the tournament.
Turner once again led all hitters with 18 kills, and frankly, no one else was really close. As Coach Shondell said in his post game interview, if Turner does not win the Big Ten Player of the Year award, we are all going to be disappointed because she has dominated in nearly every match this season.
Up next for Purdue is the best day of the year: Selection Sunday. Though it is pretty much guaranteed that not only will Purdue be in the tournament this year, they will most likely also host the 1st and 2nd rounds of the tournament in the Boiler Box for the 2nd straight year (though for some reason, this isn’t always a guarantee). The presentation of the tournament bracket airs live on ESPNU at 6pm. I may have an open thread on here as no other Purdue athletic events will be occurring at that time (to my knowledge). If you are in God’s Country at that time, the Volleyball team has extended an invitation to all Boilermakers to join the team at the Kissel Center (under the east concourse of Ross-Ade along John R. Wooden Ave.). When we know who and where Purdue will be playing (hopefully West Lafayette) on December 2nd, I will post ticket information on here so we can rock the Boiler Box (or wherever we happen to play) and help cheer our Lady Boilers on the road to the Final Four!