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Purdue Volleyball: Nebraska and Iowa Preview

The Boilers host Nebraska and Iowa in the final regular season homestand. Purdue could host the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and a win over Nebraska would go a long way towards making that a reality.

Last weekend No. 12 Purdue (21-6, 10-6) went 0-2 on the road against Top 10 opponents No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota and this week they’ll have a chance to pick up a home upset as they host Iowa, and No. 6 Nebraska.

Wisconsin and Minnesota Recap

Last Friday Purdue had Wisconsin on the ropes before collapsing and losing in five. Purdue came out of the gate on fire in set one hitting .441 and tallying four blocks as they won 25-16. Set two went back and forth as Wisconsin cleaned up the errors. The set was tied at 19-all when Sherridan Atkinson took over and sparked her team to the win. Atkinson started a 4-1 run with a kill and followed it up with a solo block as Purdue went in front for good. She capped the set off with two kills as Purdue won 25-22.

Purdue appeared to have the match in hand in set three. Purdue was up 14-10 and the sweep seemed imminent. Wisconsin though came roaring back with an eight-point run. Purdue eventually sidedout and got to work getting back into the set; a 4-1 run cut the margin to one, 21-20. Wisconsin eventually got to set point, 24-21 with a Dana Rettke kill which rotated her to the back row. Purdue answered with a kill by Atkinson but then it was her time to serve. Both teams best hitters were no longer in the front row so it came down to the supporting casts. Purdue got a block from Blake Mohler and Hayley Bush to extend the set another point but the Badgers closed it out winning 25-23.

Purdue was never the same after that. The Boilers were outhit .143-.419 and -.040-.263 in sets four and five which they lost 25-14 and 15-10.

Sherridan Atkinson recorded a double-double to lead the Boilers with 26 kills and 14 digs while hitting .339. Caitlyn Newton was the only other hitter to hit over .200, .270, tallying 17 kills. Hayley Bush put up 51 assists. Jael Johnson had six blocks. Marissa Hornung who was wearing the libero jersey as Brooke Peters did not travel with the team recorded 21 digs.

Purdue was outhit .209-.235 but did have an advantage blocking, 15-10.

Purdue was still reeling Saturday when they faced the Gophers as they got off to an awful start in set one. After being aced on the first point of the match Minnesota’s CC McGraw got her revenge going back to the service line first for the Gophers. First serve she aced Jena Otec then did it again two points later, a ball handling error by Hayley Bush and Gopher kill gave Minnesota a 6-1 lead. For the rest of the set Minnesota only failed to convert on one sideout opportunity and closed the set on a five-point run, including three consecutive Purdue hitting errors, 25-10. Purdue was outhit -.027-.379.

The second set was much more competitive. The Boilers served much tougher but they still gave away too many points. A 10-3 Gopher run fueled by four Purdue errors put Minnesota in front 21-15. Purdue kept battling a 4-1 run cut the lead to three and they saved three set points before falling 25-23.

Sherridan Atkinson was on fire in set three putting away nine kills on 17 attempts with one error (.470). While Atkinson and the rest of the team elevated their play in set three it was business as usual for the Gophers as they hit a cool .382 to win the set 25-19; Purdue hit .333. Purdue got down 18-12 before running off six points on Olivia Van Zelst’s serve to tie the set. Minnesota though just went to another level closing the set on a 7-1 run.

Sherridan Atkinson led Purdue with 17 kills. Hayley Bush finished with 31 assists. Olivia Van Zelst had three aces off the bench to lead Purdue. Marissa Hornung had a match-high 18 digs.

Purdue was outhit .167-.344. Per the norm, for the Gophers four out of their five hitters had eight or more kills.

Weekend Preview

The Boilers are back home this weekend. Friday’s match at 7:00 against Nebraska is already sold out and will air on BTN+. Saturday at 8:00 Purdue hosts the Hawkeyes for Senior Night. The last announcement from the athletic department was that there still were tickets available; the match will air on BTN+.

A big question this weekend is who will be the libero. Brooke Peters didn’t travel with the team last weekend but has practiced this week. Based on merit it’s not a stretch to say Marissa Hornung should be the libero regardless of whether Peters is healthy or not. That is though ignoring the sentimental factor of this being Senior Weekend. Nebraska has their offensive woes but they are the best serving team in the conference. Purdue has to pass well if they’re going to pull off the upset. Currently, Peters leads the team in reception errors. Using two passers in serve receive is hard but I like our chances better when Hornung is one of those passers each rotation.

Another concern for the Boilers is who will score points for them. Sherridan Atkinson is, of course, the go-to and Caitlyn Newton has elevated her level play of late, but no one else has. With Blake Mohler, some of her struggles come from not being used consistently enough. Purdue has to get her the ball with regularity she does a great job of being available in transition but she hasn’t been getting the ball. Grace Cleveland has taken some lumps in conference play; she’s hitting .152. This weekend she just needs to keep the ball in play, eliminating some errors. Nebraska is an excellent blocking team but if Purdue can tool the block or hit high hands they’ll have success and keep the Huskers from getting opportunities in transition. Easier said than done, but Purdue can’t just expect Atkinson to carry them every match everyone else has to step up.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats (statistical rank in the Big Ten) **Stats from conference play only**
Positions: MB- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, RS- right side 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

Rs Fr. 5’10 S 2 Hayley Bush- 11.11 A/S (5)

Sr. 5’9 L 3 Brooke Peters- 4.13 D/S (9), 0.27 SA/S (15)

So. 6’1 OH 4 Caitlyn Newton- 2.8 K/S, .260

Fr. 5’7 DS 10 Marissa Hornung- 2.81 D/S

Sr. 6’5 OH/RS 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 4.13 K/S (4), .302 (12), 0.28 SA/S (11)

Jr. 6’2 M 17 Blake Mohler- 2.34 K/S, .315 (9), 1.02 B/S (10)

Fr. 6’3 MB/OH 20 Grace Cleveland-2.44 K/S, 0.88 B/S


After losing five of seven all against Top 10 ranked Big Ten teams the Huskers (20-6, 11-5) appear to have turned the corner. They beat Penn State at home in five to snap their skid then bested Michigan on the road in four. Over the losing stretch, they had some of their worst hitting performances of the season, one was a program-worst under head coach John Cook. Pin hitters Jazz Sweet and Lexi Sun have been the biggest culprits as they are hitting .141 and .162 respectively in conference play. If Purdue can force Nebraska out of system and defend well against Sweet and Sun the Boilers should be in good shape.

Key Players

Fr. 5’10 S 1 Nicklin Hames- 10.44 A/S (6), 3.71 D/S (11), 0.27 SA/S (14)

Sr. 6’3 OH 2 Mikaela Foecke- 3.79 K/S (7), .293 (14), 2.83 D/S, 0.29 SA/S (9)

So. 6’2 OH 10 Lexi Sun- 3.13 K/S (15), 2.71 D/S, 0.27 SA/S (14)

Sr. 5’8 L 11 Kenzie Maloney- 4.1 D/S (10), 0.3 SA/S (7)

So. 6’3 RS 12 Jazz Sweet- 2.32 K/S, 0.84 B/S (10)

Fr. 6’5 MB 25 Callie Schwarzenbach- 1.43 B/S (1)

So. 6’4 MB 26 Lauren Stivrins- 2.19 K/S, .391 (3), 1.27 B/S (3)

*This weekend will be a homecoming for Megan Miller who starred Alexandria-Monroe


Since beating Wisconsin the Hawkeyes (14-13, 6-10) have struggled this season although they nearly upset the Boilers a month ago. Iowa gave Northwestern their second conference win and got swept by Maryland. Iowa was dealt a major blow when they lost outside hitter Cali Hoye earlier this month. Hoye had been leading Iowa with nearly four kills per set. With Hoye out, defenses can key in on Taylor Louis. As long as Purdue serves aggressive they should be able to keep Iowa off rhythm and keep Louis from getting quality opportunities.

Key Players

Sr. 5’4 L 1 Molly Kelly- 5.05 D/S (1)

Jr. 6’2 OH/RS 5 Meghan Buzzerio- 2.02 D/S

So. 5’10 S 7 Brie Orr- 10.15 A/S (8), 2.22 D/S

Sr. 6’0 RS 8 Reghan Coyle- 2.5 K/S

Sr. 6’3 OH 16 Taylor Louis- 3.24 K/S (12)

*Iowa has a trio of Indiana natives on their roster: Maddie Hine, Noblesville; Amiya Jones, Indianapolis; Griere Hughes, Fishers.

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings Week 12

  1. BYU (48)
  2. Stanford (16)
  3. Minnesota
  4. Illinois
  5. Texas
  6. Nebraska

T-7. Penn State

T-7. Wisconsin

12. Purdue

19. Michigan

BYU is still perfect but they were dealt a blow as they lost McKenna Miller for the season to a torn ACL.

RPI Rankings

  1. Stanford
  2. Illinois
  3. Minnesota
  4. Texas
  5. BYU
  6. Wisconsin

12. Nebraska

13. Purdue

17. Penn State

20. Michigan

49. Maryland

55. Indiana

58. Northwestern

68. Iowa

85. Michigan State

87. Ohio State

209. Rutgers