Coming into this weekend, I was feeling rather positive. Purdue would play in a good neutral environment down in Texas that would not give any team an advantage. I thought Washington would give Purdue trouble, but Purdue would be able to overcome it, and I thought Purdue would just steam roll over Rice.
I was wrong.
Against Washington, Purdue and Washington kept it close until the end of the 1st set and then Washington took off to take the first set 25-21. After that, no matter what Purdue tried, they couldn't stop Washington or get around their blockers. Ariel Turner and Anna Drewry had some great attacks from what it sounded like on the radio, but they were simply returned by Washington's blockers. Purdue finished the match with a -0.012 hitting percentage. Yes, you read that correctly, Purdue had a negative hitting percentage as they finished with 23 errors and 22 kills with 81 total attacks. Washington showed no mercy this afternoon, and finish the sweep with a 25-9 beat down in the 3rd set. It was the first time Purdue has been swept since September 18th, 2010, when Purdue was swept by Cincinnati in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
Purdue's stats against Washington were unimpressive, as Washington just outplayed Purdue in every aspect of the game. Washington out blocked Purdue 13.5-2.0, which was a big reason for their upset over Purdue. This game was over so quickly, I was able to listen to nearly the entire game during my 1 hour class break. After the game, Coach Shondell said on the radio that based off that performance, Purdue isn't ready for Big Ten play just yet. I'd also suggest that Purdue isn't ready for a deep run into the NCAA Tournament, even with home court advantage, as Washington will be a team that will make a deep run in the tournament as well. However, there is a silver lining to this loss. Last season, Washington swept eventual National Champion UCLA, so if past is any indication, Purdue can bounce back as it is still early in the season.
However, if Purdue was going to bounce back, it didn't seem like bouncing back against Rice after the Washington lose, and managed to pull out a 5 set win. Purdue was still having a hangover from their lose against Washington and allowed Rice to get an early lead in the first set. Though Purdue was able to rally, it wasn't enough as Rice took the first set 25-23. Purdue bounced back through in the 2nd set, winning its first set of the Tiger Classic 25-13 as freshman Annie Drews and junior Katie Griffin had some significant kills in the set that help propel Purdue to a 2nd set win. The 3rd set was back and forth with 11 ties and 4 lead changes. Purdue had 4 chances with set points but was outsmarted by the Owls as they won the set 29-27. Though the 4th set was close, Purdue led most of the way winning the set 25-21, setting up a 5th set to hopefully avoid another upset. Purdue didn't look back in the 5th set either, winning the set 15-9 to bounce back in the Tiger Classic.
Purdue outhit Rice 0.302 to 0.210 as Ariel Turner, Annie Drews, and Val Nichol each finished with double digit kills. Carly Cramer also proved to be vital in the back court with 30 digs in the night, and was backed up by Davis, Turner, and Miller each having double digit kills as well. The game wasn't pretty, but it was a step in the right direction after the Washington lose. From here, Purdue will face LSU tomorrow in the Classic finale. Purdue will struggle with LSU tomorrow if it continues to play the way it did today, and could face another upset as well. Purdue just needs to get the victory tomorrow, come back and reset before heading out for the Big Ten/Big East Challenge next week.