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Purdue Volleyball: Regular Season Wrap-up and NCAA Tournament Projections

NCAA Selection Sunday for Women’s Volleyball is tomorrow. We examine how Purdue’s body of work stacks up against the rest of the country in determining the field of 64.

Purdue Volleyball wrapped up its regular season yesterday with a nailbiting five set loss at Ohio State, 19-17 in the deciding set. That capped their regular season at 18-13 overall, with all but one of those losses due to their 8-12 record in the toughest volleyball conference in America. So let’s take a look at their profile overall, similar to how you might see basketball teams evaluated in one graphic in March.


Record (Conference): 18-13 (8-12 Big Ten)

Home/Road/Neutral: 10-6 / 5-7 / 3-0

AVCA Coaches Ranking: 35

NCAA Volleyball RPI Ranking: 22

Strength of Schedule Ranking: 3

Quality Wins: 3-1 vs. Washington St. (RPI 45), 3-0 vs. Coastal Carolina (RPI 34), 3-2 at Stanford (RPI 9), 3-1 vs. Kansas (RPI 6), 3-1 vs. Michigan (RPI 17), 3-2 at Illinois (RPI 50)

Bad Losses: 2-3 at Iowa (RPI 68), 1-3 at Northwestern (RPI 146)

Record in last ten matches: 5-5

Record in five set matches: 4-6

In brief summary, unspectacular, but good enough.

Purdue Volleyball teams for years have been able to just float by in conference play, never beating better teams, and slightly more often than never losing to much worse teams. This year’s team beat consistently low finishing Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana at every opportunity, but slipped up at Northwestern and once against Iowa. Winning last night’s match at Ohio State would’ve given the Boilers their second conference win over a team ranked higher than them (26 in AVCA Coaches, 38 RPI), but they couldn’t pull off the upset on the road in extra points in the fifth set.

Speaking of fifth sets, Purdue’s 4-6 record in such matches is interesting. Purdue barely beat Indiana and Maryland in 5 sets, matches they should’ve won more handily. They barely lost to Iowa in 5 sets, a match they should’ve won easily. However, their other 5 set losses were close matches with Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin (twice!), and Ohio State, and they beat Illinois and Stanford in matches that went the distance. Those results likely won’t matter much to the tournament selection committee, but I found them interesting.

The top-10 wins over Stanford and Kansas in the non-conference schedule that catapulted Purdue up the rankings are basically the sole reason for their RPI of 22. Without those two wins, we could have been very nervous going into tomorrow, and could have missed the tournament like we did in 2014 with a similar conference season. However, we should have no problem at all securing a spot in the tournament.

The top 16 seeds of the field of 64 get to host matches on December 1-3 weekend. Had Purdue beaten Ohio State on Friday, that would’ve been possible, but for now we can plan on the team traveling somewhere next weekend. It’s safe to expect a very winnable first round matchup, setting up a match with a team seeded in the 6-14 range in the second round. If Purdue can pull off an upset unlike anything since September, they’d be looking at the Sweet 16.

We’ll let you all know of where Purdue falls in the tournament field tomorrow night after the 8:30 Eastern selection show. For more detailed results from the season, see the Purdue Volleyball website, and as always, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.