After finishing 10th in the Big Ten, Purdue (18-13, 8-12) made it into the Tourney on the strength of their RPI-29, big non-conference wins, and the competitiveness of the Big Ten. This is Purdue’s 18th NCAA Tournament appearance, 11th in the last 13 years. Purdue’s best finish has been the regional finals twice, in 2010 and 2013. The program has a 25-17 record in the tournament. Last season Purdue lost in the second round, in four sets, to eventual runner-up Texas.
The Iowa State Cyclones (18-10, 10-6) finished third the Big Twelve behind Kansas and Texas. This is their 12th Tournament appearance, including 11 consecutive. They’ve gone 16-11 in tournament play, and their best finish is the regional finals in 2008 and 2011. Last year they advanced to the second round where they were swept by Wisconsin. The Cyclones received votes in the latest AVCA poll and were 27th in the RPI this week.
Purdue won the only previous matchup between them and Iowa State back in 1989. The Boilers and Iowa State have played a handful of common opponents this season. One of Purdue’s signature wins was their upset over Kansas; Iowa State lost twice to Kansas this season. The Boilers split with Iowa in conference play and the Cyclones swept them during their non-conference slate. Purdue and Iowa State were both swept by Nebraska.
The Cyclones never appeared in the AVCA top 25 and were 1-6 against teams in the top 25; the win came against No. 5 Texas in five sets at home. Purdue was 4-9, picking up wins over No. 9 Stanford, No. 4 Kansas, No. 22 Illinois, No. 13 Michigan. The Boilers started the season at 20th and rose to 10th before sliding down and out of the rankings during conference play.
Purdue is 5-7 on the road and 3-0 on neutral courts. The Cyclones are 7-6 away from Ames and 2-0 on neutral courts. Both teams have a level of familiarity with the Hearnes Center on the University of Missouri campus. Mizzou used to be in the Big Twelve, before leaving for the SEC in 2012, and Purdue had a great experience there three years ago, ending the Tigers perfect season in the second round of the 2013 tournament.
The Cyclones are coached by Christy Johnson-Lynch. Her and her husband, Joe, have transformed the program over their 12 seasons at Iowa State. This season her team is running a 6-2 offense which is very balanced. The Cyclones have decent size, but that hasn’t translated to blocks. The strength of their defense instead is their back row.
The Big Ten is much more competitive than the Big Twelve and has prepared Purdue well for the tournament. That said, passing, which has been inconsistent this season, could be Purdue’s undoing. The Boiler front line has gotten better as the season has gone on, specifically Sherridan Atkinson has improved during conference play. Purdue will need Azariah Stahl to perform well. Her passing has gotten better through the season, but she’s struggled mightily at the net, hitting only .120 against conference foes.
You can watch the match on ESPN3 or the watchESPN app. Winner of Iowa State-Purdue will face the winner of Missouri vs. Northern Illinois Friday at 7:00 ET.
class, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally)
Postions: M- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, Opp- opposite hitter, DS- defensive specialist, L- libero, S- setter
Stats: K/S- kills/set, B/S- blocks/set, D/S- digs/set. .000- hitting percentage, A/S- assists/set, SA/S service aces/set
So. DS 3 Brooke Peters- 2.31 D/S
Jr. S 5 Ashley Evans- 10.77 A/S (40), 2.04 D/S
Fr. L 7 Natalie Haben- 3.09 D/S
Jr. OH 10 Azariah Stahl- 2.52 K/S, 2.35 D/S
Sr. M 13 Faye Adelaja~- 2.26 K/S, .365 (40), 0.87 B/S
So. Opp 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 2.07 K/S, .262
Rs Fr. M 17 Blake Mohler- .294, 0.94 B/S
Jr. OH 20 Danielle Cuttino*- 4.03 K/S (47), .264, 0.61 B/S
~All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
*All-Big Ten selection
Sr. OH/Opp 3 Morgan Kuhrt- 2.21 K/S, .267
So. DS 4 Abby Phillips- 2.48 D/S
Jr. MB/OH 6 Alexis Conaway- .320, 0.69 B/S
Jr. S/DS 8 Monique Harris- 6.75 A/S
Jr. MB 9 Samara West+- 2.08 K/S, .305, 0.68 B/S
So. MB 10 Grace Lazard+- 2.12 K/S, .289, 0.93 B/S
Jr. OH 12 Genesis Miranda- 2.08 K/S
Sr. OH 11 Ciara Capezio- 2.37 D/S
So. OH 14 Jess Schaben^- 3.37 K/S, 2.35 D/S
Rs Fr. L 16 Hali Hillegas#- 3.89 D/S
Sr. S 17 Suzanne Horner- 6.15 A/S
^ Big Twelve First Team
+ Big Twelve Second Team
# Big Twelve All-Freshman Team