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Purdue Volleyball: Season ends with 3-1 tournament loss at Missouri

The Boilermaker Volleyball team couldn’t repeat 2013’s tournament win over Mizzou, and their season ended one round into the NCAA Tournament.

Purdue Volleyball fought hard, taking a set and hanging around in another, but couldn’t overcome the electric home crowd and the unfamiliar Mizzou offense in a 3-1 loss. Set scores were 25-13, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21.

It was an up and down match for Danielle Cuttino, who led the Purdue offense with 17 kills on 41 attempts, for a pretty average .244 hitting percentage. She was very ineffective in sets 1 and 3, making lots of awkward hitting errors, but was nearly unstoppable in sets 2 and 4, like we’ve seen her be most of the season. Faye Adelaja hit a sterling .500 with 8 kills, matched by Blake Mohler’s .357 effort. Azariah Stahl played better than her .143 hitting percentage showed, bailing the Boilers out of some bad rotations and tough service runs. Opposite Sherridan Atkinson struggled, hitting only .083. Setter Ashley Evans tallied 45 assists, but was completely neutralized in her offensive game, with a -.125 hitting percentage.

Mizzou outside hitter Melanie Crow was the player that loudly introduced herself to every remaining volleyball team in the tournament tonight, with a ridiculous 25 kills on 47 swings, and a hitting percentage of .426 that must be some kind of tournament record for a pin hitter. She and fellow outside hitter Carly Kan were immensely successful hitting the pipe set, coming out of the middle back position. Purdue had absolutely no clue how to incorporate that into their blocking scheme, hence the astounding success rate of those attacks.

Sets 1 and 3 looked largely the same. Purdue got down a couple points early on, and completely caved to the seemingly unstoppable momentum of Mizzou at home. Uncharacteristic errors plagued both those two sets, and hardly any attempts were made to come back against all momentum.

Set 2 was the inverse. Purdue executed at a high level, applying pressure and allowing Mizzou to make the errors. Purdue controlled the entire set before letting up a run at the very end, leading to the 25-22 score.

Set 4 looked like it was going to be a repeat of set 2, with Purdue getting an early lead, but a 5-0 and 8-1 run by Mizzou did away with that in a hurry. A 3-4 point gap existed for the rest of the set, that Mizzou’s efficient hitting encouraged to survive. A stuff block on Azariah Stahl sealed the match for Mizzou.

A few players from each team were still around that played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament match in Columbia, where Mizzou was in the midst of a record undefeated season, and Purdue came in and beat them at home, unexpected by everyone. You could sense an extra bit of intensity from those Mizzou seniors who played in that match, while you couldn’t say the same for Purdue.

This season as a whole has been intensely average across the board. Much of the volleyball community had low expectations for the Boilers going into the season, until the bandwagon grew great lengths after wins over Stanford and Kansas. Momentum halted with a couple silly conference losses and general inability to play up to the level of the conference’s best, resulting in a sub-.500 Big Ten season. The team looked good against Iowa State last night in the first round, but proved that their given seed was accurate in tonight’s loss to Mizzou.

As a member of the program as a practice player, I want to personally congratulate the team’s lone senior, middle blocker Faye Adelaja, on her incredible Purdue Volleyball career. Faye has led the team in so many statistical categories, this season especially, but has more importantly led the team in passion, confidence, and positive energy. She is one of the best competitors, while simultaneously being one of the nicest people, that I’ve met in volleyball. The program will miss her as she starts medical school next year.

Thanks for following along with Hammer & Rails’ volleyball coverage this season. We’ll keep you informed on program news, including next year’s recruiting class, soon. In the meantime, if you’re on campus and are craving some volleyball, the Purdue Men’s Volleyball team is playing at home this weekend in the Boilermaker Classic tournament. More info here.