The last two seasons have ended in heartbreak for Purdue volleyball at the sweet 16 level. After upsetting No. 1 overall seed Florida in 2010 to reach the Elite 8 (and losing 3-1 to Texas the next night after Jaclyn Hart was injured during a set 1 win) Purdue had little luck in the NCAA tournament's third round.
2011 saw the Boilers fall to Florida State in Minneapolis. Purdue got revenge on the Seminoles the next year to get home to Mackey Arena, but Minnesota knocked off Purdue at home to move on to the Elite 8.
A more experienced Purdue team would not be denied this year. The Boilermakers are back in the Elite 8 and will face Wisconsin tomorrow night in Champaign with a Final Four berth on the line. Purdue got there with an impressive 3-0 sweep of host Illinois after losing 3-1 to the Illini earlier in Champaign. It was the second straight match Purdue has won on an opponent's home floor, as the second round match against undefeated Missouri last week was in Columbia.
This match really hinged on a tense first set, where both teams went back and forth. There were 16 ties and eight lead changes in the first set, but the Illini were poised to take early control of the match up 24-21. with the Illini needing only one more point, the Boilers fought off four straight match points to move in front 25-24. Purdue eventually pulled it out 28-26, and from there the Boilers pretty much rolled.
The momentum from the first set carried over to the second set. Purdue did not trail in the second or the third set and was tied only twice in the second one on their way to a 25-20 win. Now up 2-0, the Boilers went for the kill. Purdue was tied eight times in the third set as the Illini refused to go away, but after the Boilers led 18-17 Purdue closed the match on a 7-2 run to seal the sweep 25-19.
Some of your stats:
- Val Nichol, Kiki Jones, and Catherine Rebarchak each had nine kills.
- Faye Adelaja had six blocks
- Purdue had an attack percentage of .216 to Illinois' .111.
I am not that versed in volleyball stats, but that sounds good to me!
The Boilers now move on to face Wisconsin with a Final four berth on the line. I cannot help but have bad flashbacks to almost 14 years ago, when Purdue men's basketball was a step away from a Final Four and fell to the Badgers in Albuquerque. Wisconsin enters as the No. 13 overall seed in the tournament, and Purdue is the only non-seeded team left among the Elite eight.
The Boilers are battle tested, however. Of the seven other teams in the elite 8, Purdue has played four of them (Nebraska, USC, Penn State, and Wisconsin). Purdue went 3-4 against those four, beating Nebraska twice. Purdue lost its match against Wisconsin this year in Madison 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 in a very close match. That was the first match of Big Ten play, but Purdue turned the tables on the Badgers with a 24-26, 25-21, 26-24, 31-33, 17-15 match in West Lafayette that was just wild with 52 ties and 21 lead changes in five sets.
That makes two very tight matches this year, and there is where you can help the Boilers. Technically, Illinois is the closet Big Ten school to Purdue, so if there are students still hanging around on campus after finals tomorrow night is a great night to head over to Champaign and join the Boiler Block. Purdue has something special going this year and turning the State Farm Center into our home court can help a lot.
Not to look ahead, but Purdue went 3-1 against what could be its two opponents before the National Championship match. After splitting Wisconsin Purdue swept No. 8 National seed Nebraska 3-1 in Lincoln and 3-0 in West Lafayette. The Cornhuskers play No. 1 overall seed Texas in Lincoln tomorrow night with the winner getting Purdue-Wisconsin in the Final Four.
But that is looking ahead. For now, let's concentrate on Wisconsin. The Boilers will face them tomorrow night in Champaign at 6:30pm ET (that's 5:30 Champaign time). If you can't make it over to Champaign the match will be televised on ESPNU. These ladies continue to do Purdue proud, so let's get them to Seattle and the Final Four!
2013 NCAA Volleyball quarterfinals:
December 14, 2013
#2 Penn State vs. #7 Stanford, 4pm, Lexington, Kentucky
#13 Wisconsin vs. Purdue, 6:30pm, Champaign, Illinois
#1 Texas vs. #8 Nebraska, 9pm, Lincoln, Nebraska
#3 Washington vs. #6 Southern Cal, 11:30pm, Los Angeles, California
December 19, Seattle, Washington:
Wisconsin-Purdue winner vs. Texas-Nebraska winner
Penn State-Stanford winner vs. USC-Washington winner
December 20, 9:30pm