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Purdue Volleyball: Sweet Sixteen Preview

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Purdue faces top seed Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen.

Back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2013, this year’s Boilers (24-7, 14-6) are looking to match and surpass the Elite Eight finish of the 2013 squad. They’ll have to get past top seed Baylor and phenom Yossiana Pressley if they’re going to move on.

Purdue plays Baylor Friday at noon ET on ESPNU.

The other region semi-final is #9 Kentucky versus #8 Washington. They’ll play the second match at 2:30 on ESPN3. The Wildcats swept Southeast Missouri State and Michigan last weekend while the Huskies swept Winthrop and South Carolina.

The winners will play Saturday at 4:00 ET on ESPNU.

Rest of the Field

Texas Region

#2 Texas vs Louisville

The Longhorns were actually to pushed to a fifth set by UC Santa Barbara after they had swept Albany in the first round. Louisville also was on the winning side of a five-set match as they upset #15 Western Kentucky giving them their only two losses of their season; in the first round, the Cardinals swept Samford.

#7 Minnesota vs #10 Florida

The seeded teams defended homecourt in the other half of the regional. Although it was not without drama for the Gophers as they saved two match points in the five-set second match with Creighton; in the first round they swept Fairfield. The Gators, on the other hand, swept Alabama State and UCF even without starter, Thayer Hall in the lineup.

Stanford Regional

#3 Stanford vs Utah

The Utes beat Illinois in five sets then swept #14 BYU winning each set by 10 to advance. Meanwhile, the Cardinal swept Denver and Cal Poly.

#11 Penn State vs Cincinnati

The Jordan Thompson led Bearcats bested VCU in four sets then beat the hometown Final Four hopeful #6 Pitt Panthers in five to make the Sweet 16. Penn State swept Princeton then dropped a set to Towson in round two.

Wisconsin Regional

#4 Wisconsin vs #13 Texas A&M

All four seeded teams made it to Madison in the Badger’s region. Wisconsin swept Illinois State and UCLA to advance. A&M swept St. John’s then beat Rice in four sets to make the Sweet 16.

#5 Nebraska vs #12 Hawaii

The Huskers swept Ball State then dropped a set to Mizzou before moving on. Hawaii also dropped a set although it was in the first round as they beat Northern Colorado and San Diego.

Match Preview

It goes without saying that Purdue is going to have to play one of their best matches of the season in order to advance. The Boilers can’t afford to make a lot of errors as all their hitters will need to be efficient. Caitlyn Newton was great last weekend getting the most swings and converting on them at a good rate. Newton and Grace Cleveland, who hit .500 last weekend will need to have big matches. Cleveland will most likely matchup with Pressley and the Boilers can not afford to let her go off. Pressley has won big matches for the Bears on her own before scoring 30+ kills in wins over Texas and Wisconsin. When Baylor lost to Texas she only had 18 kills and 11 errors. Cleveland’s blocking and Purdue’s serve will have to be dialed in order to frustrate her and keep her out of rhythm.

Key Players
class, height, position, # name, stats (statistical rank nationally)
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

So. 5’10 S 2 Hayley Bush- 10.76 A/S (39), 2.08 D/S

Jr. 6’1 OH 4 Caitlyn Newton!- 3.87 K/S, 0.37 SA/S

Sr. 6’2 MB 9 Shavona Cuttino- .294, 1.23 B/S (49)

So. 5’7 DS 10 Marissa Hornung- 3.9 D/S

Sr. 6’2 M 17 Blake Mohler*- 2.2 K/S, .333, 1.23 B/S

So. 6’2 MB 18 Jael Johnson- .375, 0.82 B/S

Jr. 5’10 DS 19 Jena Otec- 3.53 D/S, 0.42 SA/S (38)

So. 6’3 OH 20 Grace Cleveland*- 3.3 K/S, .277, 1.08 B/S, 0.36 SA/S

*First Team All-Big Ten

!Second Team All-Big Ten

Purdue Team Stats

Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Purdue 13.02 .247 12.17 1.54 14.13 2.83 (10)
Opponents 12.42 .184 11.55 0.89 13.1 1.75

Baylor

After earning their first Big 12 Championship, the Baylor Bears (27-1, 15-1) are making just their eighth NCAA tournament and fourth in a row. This season already matches their best finish, in 2009 they lost to Cal in the Sweet 16. Baylor and Purdue have split their only two previous meetings; Purdue won the last in 2011 3-0 in West Lafayette.

Big 12 Player of the Year Yossiana Pressley has a great supporting cast. Hannah Lockin was the conference’s Setter of the Year and Head Coach Ryan McGuyre was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year. Each of the other hitters while not relied on for big outings each night have the capability. For the Bears, they just need to stick to their game; how they handle the moment may be the biggest challenge.

The impact of the home crowd is to be seen. Baylor is undefeated at home this year, but they average less than the capacity of Holloway and play in their basketball arena. Bear fans did show up though for the showdown with Texas as 7,357 filled the Ferrell Center. Last weekend though they didn’t crack 2,000 for either match.

Key Players

Sr. 5’5 L 1 Tara Wulf- 3.34 D/S

Sr. 6’2 MB 5 Shelly Stafford@- 2.58 K/S, .375 (36), 0.98 B/S

So. 6’6 RS 10 Marieke van der Mark- .325, 0.91 B/S

Jr. 6’1 S 14 Hannah Lockin@- 11.42 A/S (11), 2.86 D/S

Fr. 6’4 MB 17 Kara McGhee#$- .309, 1.33 B/S (27)

Jr. 6’0 OH 22 Yossiana Pressley@- 5.42 K/S (2), .275, 2.45 D/S

Sr. 6’2 OH 77 Gia Milana#- 2.34 K/S

@ All-Big 12 First Team

# All-Big 12 Second Team

$ All-Big 12 Rookie Team

Baylor Team Stats

Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Baylor 14.54 (7) .287 (8) 13.64 (6) 1.1 14.71 2.58
Opponents 11.47 .156 (14) 10.76 0.91 12.22 2.09

AVCA All-Northeast Region

Three Boilers earned the prerequisite honor for All-American honors as Grace Cleveland, Blake Mohler and Caitlyn Newton were all named the AVCA All-Northeast first team.

Boiler Pros

After a productive season with the US National Team Annie Drews (2012-15) was recognized as the USA Volleyball Female Indoor Player of the Year.