Where to start with this one? Hitting .186 as a team is a good place to start. Or better yet, letting Ohio State hit .352 for the game. Look, it was just a bad game, alright? But even in the loss (25-19, 29-27, 25-11) there were some good things to be found. Turner is still amazing, Davis CAN be amazing, and the talent is definitely there. I'll break down some of the basic things real quick and then you can get back to reveling in the fact that IU gave up 564 yards rushing to Wisconsin last week (at least that's what I was doing).
First, the things that Purdue needs to work on.
Rotations: The individual talent for Purdue on the front line is as good as any team they're play, but every time two players meet one on one at the net, the offensive player always has the advantage. The solution to this is to have two or even three players in place to defend an attack. The main advantage to this isn't so much getting blocks, it's taking away easy shots from the offensive player. Right now the back row defenders are being left out to dry every time the front row lets an opponent hit the ball without contesting it.
Service Returns: It's not so much getting aced 5 times (thought that's certainly not good). It's the inability to get the ball to Davis in a way that lets her create the best possible shot. All it does is put the Purdue offense at an automatic disadvantage. Just something for them to keep working on, because it'll have repercussions beyond just not getting aced as often.
Shot selection: It's not so much where the shots are being taken, it's HOW they're being taken. I see a little too much hitting right into a wall when the better option would be to try a roll shot over the top of the block (like a change-up in baseball for those who haven't heard the term). This is probably most frustrating to me when it's Val Nichol, because I'm almost positive she has that shot in her arsenal, but she doesn't show it as often as she should.
Quick Starts Not Sustained: This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Right, so that's the bad news, but there still is good news to find even in a match like this. Without further ado, your silver lining on the dark cloud that was tonight's game.
Ariel Turner: She's amazing at this whole volleyball thing, and you'd be well advised to not forget it. Even on an off night for the team, she led Purdue with 16 kills on .255 hitting, which on a night like tonight is both much needed and very impressive. Just for good measure she also chipped in 11 digs to complete a double-double.
Rachel Davis: Setters tend to get a little overlooked sometimes, but Rachel has shown that she can absolutely control the entire Purdue offense when she gets a little help from her teammates. The key is for the dig to go to a position where Davis can get to it without having to set it on the run. Heck, even on the run she still manages to get the sets into a good position for her teammates. Throw in some decent defensive ability with her 6 digs and she's about as good as they come.
Talent/Potential: This is probably a backhanded compliment, but the best and worst thing about this Purdue team is how good they could be if they ever put things together every night. Most people reading this already know, but with Davis and Turner surrounded by quality players like Kiki Jones, Anna Drewry, Annie Drews, Carly Cramer and everyone else who has shown the talent necessary to play every week in the B1G, you can see why this team can delight and frustrate on alternating nights.
Penn State is up next, and coach has one day to get through to his players and motivate them to make this a bounceback. I have no idea if they'll actually be able to pull that off, but crazier things have happened.