The number 10. What significance does it have other than being Katie Griffin's number? After Purdue's 5 set victories in East Lansing and Ann Arbor Friday and Saturday nights respectively, Purdue has won 10 straight 5-set victories since 2010. The last time Purdue lost a 5 set match was October 23rd, 2010 against Michigan in West Lafayette. Since then, Purdue has beaten these teams in 5 sets:
10/29/2010: @Ohio State
11/20/2010: @Michigan State
9/16/2011: Louisville (@Champaign, IL)
9/21/2012: @Michigan State
As you can tell, only 3 of these wins came at home, with one neutral location and 6 road games, making this stat even more impressive. For anyone who has witnessed a 5 set volleyball match, you know it is intense. They are not the prettiest of wins, especially if they come against opponents the team is much better than (see Indiana and Iowa in 2011). To pull out a 5 set win is tiring, and is even more difficult on the road, no matter how tough the home crowd is. The fact that this team has been able to win 10 of these games in a row shows how experienced they have become over the last couple of seasons. Some of our readers and friends have mentioned how in 2009 and early 2010 that Purdue lost quite a few 5 set matches (going 4-12 in 5 set matches before the 10 straight 5-set games were won), and how they cost Purdue dearly in 2009 (8 5-set losses in 2009 alone). But after this weekend, though the team isn't perfect, they have showed that they have the stamina to compete in the Big Ten. I hope they can use this momentum and energy to improve this year and reclaim their title as a possible Final Four contender.
Ariel Turner can still give B1G opponents nightmares. Throughout most of the current season, she has been rather quiet as other players get a chance to hit the ball. But with the slow start Purdue has had this season, it seems like Ariel was just like "Screw it, give me the ball!", and boy has it worked. I do hope this is only temporary so other players, like Nichol, Jones, Drews, Drewry and Rebarchak, can start taking some of the load off her and perform at a higher level so Turner is not "burned out" (see what I did there?) by the NCAA Tournament like last year.
It also seems like Shondell is putting the 6-2 rotation on the back burner. Nichol got 4 assists, all in the first half, and it seems like sticking with Davis as the only setter has helped this team become consistent. I like keeping her at setter, as Val hasn't developed chemistry with the rest of the team that well at setter. I like her better in the OH and even MB positions on the court. I know she was a setter in high school and this summer with Team USA, but for Purdue, I want Davis to stick as the setter. Leave the quarterback rotation to whistle master and Barbasol enthusiast , Danny Hope.
I only have one thing to say about this next outstanding player on the team: ANNIE ANNIE ANNIE! OI OI OI!
Annie Drews is a BEAST! She has come in this season and proven why she deserves a spot in the starting line up. This weekend, Annie earned 24 kills combined with a weekend hitting average of 43.9%, pretty impressive for a freshman! I've said it since last weekend when I saw Annie play for the first time, if she keeps this up, and I think she will no doubt earn a spot in the All-Freshman B1G Team and be a top contender for Freshman of the Year. I am seriously impressed with her play and the fact that she is beating out experienced veterans on the team and taking their positions on the court.
The big problem so far with this team are the errors. Basically, my feelings towards all these errors are:
To me, there is no excuse for this team averaging 22 errors per game this weekend. I know these were long games, but most of these errors came towards the beginning of the game (8 in the 1st set vs MSU, 9 in the 3rd set vs U of M). These errors are costly for Purdue, and have cost them a few sets this season. I wouldn't say they cost Purdue the games against Washington and Louisville, for they were far superior to Purdue, but when a veteran team is getting this many errors in a game, where last year they were much lower, one begins to wonder what is going on through the players' heads. Purdue was lucky in that MSU and U of M got more errors this weekend, but don't expect that to happen against teams like Nebraska and Penn State. The team also had 12 service errors this weekend. Frankly, I am not going to be happy until there are 0 service errors. Personally, there is no excuse to get a service error, it's like missing a free throw. No one is trying to block you or stop you. If my 6 year old nephew can serve the ball over the net and onto the other court, there is no excuse to mess up a simple serve. Stop trying to do complicated serves (case in point: Rebarchak). Yeah, they may be hard for the other team to volley when they work, but there is little room for error. Service errors are momentum killers and can easily give the opponent a point or 2 to build a rally off of (end rant).
Next weekend for Purdue, they return to West Lafayette to take on Northwestern Friday night and Illinois Saturday night. The Illinois game has been pushed back to 8pm due to the Marshall 3:30pm kick off, and will be covered live on BTN, which will be our first Open Volleyball Thread for the season. Tickets for the Illinois game are only $2 with your ticket stub from the Marshall game, so I expect the Boiler Box to be rocking once again!