Purdue (24-7) got off to a slow start but turned things around after a timely lineup change as they defeated Marquette (28-6), 22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-13. The Boilers commanded the last three sets as they got back on track finishing the match with a team hitting percentage of .341 and 14 blocks.
The Purdue offense was lagging in set one as the passes weren’t quite as crisp as they needed to be. “The first set we didn’t serve and pass in the fashion that we have been, and I thought that Marquette did. They came out with purpose, and they won the serve-pass battle and therefore won about every other statistical category which is what happens when you win the serve-pass” said Coach Shondell.
A net violation that took a point away from Purdue sparked a Marquette run. The Golden Eagles got two kills then the Boilers gifted them two hitting errors to put Marquette up 14-10.
Purdue continued to struggle while the Golden Eagles kept spreading the ball around in system and scoring, Allie Barber, Marquette’s All-American only had two kills in the first set, but she liked how effective the balanced offense was, “I think we were spreading the ball around really well. A lot of our different hitters were stepping up big. I think that helped us a lot because it seemed like Purdue wasn’t able to really get a handle on all of our hitters.”
Marquette outhit Purdue .297-.219. Caitlyn Newton was hot from the start for the Boilers as she fired off eight kills in the opening frame scoring from the front and back row with ease.
The teams traded points back and forth to start set two. Shondell and the Boilers were looking to swing momentum their way and they did it with a substitution. Jael Johnson came in for Shavona Cuttino and helped lift the Boilers.
She got a block right off the bat but the bulk of her impact was not on the boxscore as Coach Shondell put it, “...when Jael Johnson came into the game early in – I think it was 7-7, something like that, in set two, and then Jael just gave us a tremendous, solid effort. She’s an emotional leader on our team, and I thought that made a big difference and that everyone else just kind of picked their game up… She’s the best teammate that I’ve ever coached in a long time of coaching. She just brings it every day and played behind those two fifth-year seniors for a long time. It was great to see, a great moment for her and our program.”
Blake Mohler also had praise for sophomore middle blocker, “Jael is such an incredible person. No matter if she’s on the bench, if she’s playing, if she comes in for two points, she is such an emotional player. I am so fortunate that I’ve gotten to play with her for the last two years. No matter what situation she’s in, she’s just happy and smiling, and it really feeds off, because this team has such great chemistry and emotional standing that she’s one of the big leaders with it.”
After playing to a 10-10 tie an out of system kill from Newton sent Grace Cleveland to the service line. Right away Purdue scored two points off her serve, an overpass kill and an ace. The Boilers scored three more points before the Golden Eagles finally sidedout as Purdue was up 16-10 and Marquette had used both timeouts. Purdue kept their foot on the pedal finishing the set on a 7-1 run.
Purdue’s 10-6 lead in set three disappeared as Marquette was finally able to string some points together and tie the set at 12 and later 14. Purdue never surrendered the lead though. The Boilers kept up the aggressive serving, transitioned well, and forced Marquette into some errors as they finished the set on a 11-3 run.
Purdue kept building momentum and was able to bury Marquette with a long service run in set four. Up 9-7, the Boilers ran off seven points on Jena Otec’s serve, including two aces, to go up 17-7. Purdue never looked back as they stayed locked in offensively and defensively to close the match.
Newton finished the night with 23 kills on .346 hitting. Grace Cleveland did her part hitting .500 racking up 15 kills and six blocks. Blake Mohler finished with 11 kills, .412 hitting, and four blocks. Emma Ellis was solid for the Boilers with eight kills, .294 hitting, and five blocks. Jael Johnson was the leading blocker despite only playing in three of the four sets as she tallied seven blocks. Hayley Bush put up 51 assists. Moe Hornung did a great job all night getting quality touches to start the offense in transition finishing with 18 digs. Jena Otec had two aces to go with 11 digs.
Sixteen seed Purdue will face No. 1 overall Baylor in Waco next weekend. Time and date TBA and it will likely be televised on an ESPN channel. The Bears advanced after sweeping Sacred Heart and USC.