Much to my own chagrin, you and I both know that getting out to Iowa and Nebraska would have been a tall task for anyone, much less a college student on a budget, so instead of pretending like I was there and plagiarizing the good folks over at PurdueSports, I'll give you the links to their wonderful work and then we can all look at the numbers, do our best ESPN talking head impressions, and discuss what these awesome wins mean for the team going forward.
Alright, so you don't need to see Iowa's 10-10 record (1-7 in conference after beating IU Saturday night) to know that they're the less talented of these two teams, but even so, starting off with a sweep on the road is an excellent sign for a team like Purdue that has shown flashes of brilliance and then lost to a good but not great Northwestern team at home. In fact, a cursory look at Purdue's schedule shows that ever since getting swept at Minnesota and Wisconsin the Boilers haven't lost a match in less than 5 sets. To me that shows that there's absolutely some definitive signs of growth in this Purdue team throughout B1G season to backup the eye test.
Some quick takeaways from the Iowa match before moving on to the big ticket item. Cat Rebarchak had herself a game in Iowa City, pacing the Boilers with 12 kills on 27 attempts, and I'm quite pleased to say that this is not the last time I'll be talking about Cat in this article (foreshadowing). Val Nichol, Kiki Jones, and Faye Adelaja each chipped in 7 or 8 kills apiece with .500+ hitting for each as well. Purdue hit .347 as a team and really the story probably should be as much about Iowa's inability to stop anyone at the net as much as anything else, but we're a Purdue blog, so we'll let OMHR's own take care of that. But seriously, Iowa had a grand total of 2 blocks. Plus 2 blocking errors, which is impressive in a Anchorman "I'm not even mad, that's amazing" kind of way. Back on topic, Purdue had 12 blocks and Kiki led the way with 6 to her credit. Aside from that, Carly Cramer and Val led the Boilers with 14 digs apiece and Hillary Fox and Rachel Davis each had 7. Good stuff.
The real news however is that Purdue went into Lincoln, Nebraska and handed the number 8 team in the country only its second conference defeat on the year. Leading the charge was none other than Catherine Rebarchak who played a gem of a game with 17 kills and a .343 hitting percentage. Just as impressive was Val Nichol who had 13 kills of her own, with a very impressive .545 percentage and 32 assists to top it off. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Annie Drews who came through in a big way with 12 kills on 18 attempts which is hopefully a very good sign for the rest of the season. Continuing their streak of impressive play, the front line had another excellent match, highlighted by another 5 blocks for Kiki and 4 more for Cat. Carly Cramer paced the team with 12 digs plus Hillary Fox and Amanda Neill chipped in 9 and 8 respectively.
So what do we make of this? It's hard to understate how big a win this was for the team. The Ohio State sweep was good, but going on the road and beating a top ten team is the kind of things that can pay dividends at the end of the season. Just as importantly it's nice to see this team begin to break through. There have been signs of it happening, for instance, the high quality of the front line has been pretty obvious lately, but the signature win was still lacking after the team wasn't quite able to beat Penn State. Now that win is there and the B1G knows that this team is a viable threat to win anywhere, anytime.
Up next is IU this Tuesday in West Lafayette, and while this is definitely a match Purdue should win, everyone needs to come out and make life miserable for the Hoosiers.