You see flashes. Signs and hints that this team could take it to the next level. And then they go off and remind you that they're not on that level quite yet. Tonight had examples of both, but on the basest level this was a good win against a good team in conference play.
Recap: It felt like every single set was tight until the end when one of the teams took control to end it.
For each of the first two sets neither team really pulled away in the beginning. Purdue especially started slow in the first it seemed, but after that they stormed back to finish with a hitting percentage of .500 for the set. In the second set, Purdue hit a respectable .387 while holding NW to .194. A lot of those numbers though were the result of a handful of runs to close out each set. The early sets were also notable for who did and just as much, who didn't see action on the court. Amanda Neill got her first start and responded beautifully by leading the team with 18 digs. On the flip side, there was not a lot of action for Val Nichol tonight, at least not in the first couple of sets.
The third set was back and forth with neither team getting much of a lead at all until the end when Northwestern was able to force Purdue into a couple of errors and gather enough momentum to withstand Purdue's last ditch effort to win. In this set Purdue had 8 hitting errors and was held to a .188 hitting% compared to Northwestern's .281. The fourth set was not particularly pretty for either team, but Purdue played better overall and built up enough of a lead to withstand Northwestern's attempted comebacks when Purdue reached match point.
Coach Shondell gets the first word on this match:
Dave Shondell on Purdue volleyball win over Northwestern (via purduesports)
A couple other things to take note of:
As mentioned, Amanda Neill looked very good, especially for a freshman. With all the young talent we have, defensive specialist looks like it's gonna be a strength on the team for a couple of years to come.
Cat Rebarchak had a great game. She tallied 13 kills with a .458 hitting % easily the highest on the team out of the main hitters.
Annie Drews had another very good game with 10 kills, but just as importantly when Drews was in with Anna Drewry (7 kills of her own), Northwestern looked like they didn't know where to go. Any attempts to hit over those two ended up out, and there were multiple instances of their combined length blocking Northwestern's lack of height.
Ariel Turner is just Ariel Turner. She got 19 kills on 56 attempts, and showed her defensive value with 17 digs and 3 assisted blocks.
And finally Val Nichol. She only played in 2 sets and she didn't exactly look great in one of them, but at the very end she came in for Rachel Davis for a spell and played very well in my opinion. She took her time and looked a lot smoother setting the ball than I've seen from her in the past. I can't tell you why she didn't play, but I will say that she showed some progress tonight, and I'll take it.