The Boilers (26-7) fought hard but could not slow down or keep up with a powerful Pitt offense losing 25-20, 28-30, 25-20, 25-15. The Elite Eight appearance caps off a record-setting season for Purdue.
Both offenses started fast in set one as the Panthers hit .571 outdoing Purdue’s .478 effort. Purdue led 14-12 after a 4-0 run. Then Pitt and Leketor Member-Meneh went on a roll as she put away four kills over a 6-1 run that Purdue never recovered from. Pitt was able to stay in system most of the set and their fast three hitter offense kept the Purdue block on their heels getting lots of 1-on-1 opportunities.
Set two went to overtime as there were 18 ties and nine lead changes. Tougher serving helped Purdue slow down Pitt. Down 22-21, Purdue got a 3-0 run as back-to-back kills from Raven Colvin gave Purdue set points. Pitt would save four set points then earn two set points of their own. Emma Ellis got a touch kill to save their first then Hayley Bush got a solo stuff to save the second. Pitt gifted Purdue the final two points as the first hit attempt sailed long and the next into the net.
Purdue spotted Pitt a 4-0 lead in set three as they started the set with a trio of hitting errors and an overpass. The Boilers finally settled in but Pitt answered each Purdue run. Purdue drew within one, 16-15, but the Panthers answered with a 6-0 run to give them a comfortable 22-15 lead.
The teams split the first 20 points in set four but Purdue got stuck in two different rotations and was sunk. The Boilers broke down in all phases of the game as the Panthers went on a 9-1 run. Purdue was forced out of system and Pitt converted in transition as their defense stepped up and got quality touches. The errors started piling up as Purdue got desperate; Pitt finished on a 6-1 run.
Caitlyn Newton led Purdue with 16 kills and four aces in her final match. Raven Colvin posted 10 kills hitting .273. Jael Johnson hit .545 tallying eight kills. Colvin, Johnson, Grace Cleveland and Emma Ellis all posted three blocks. Hayley Bush put up 39 assists to go with 14 digs. Jena Otec had a match-high 25 digs as she closed out her college career.
The Pitt offense was unstoppable; they hit .311 compared to Purdue’s .156 effort. The Panthers also out-blocked Purdue 9-8. The Panther’s All-Americans Kayla Lund and Chinaza Ndee had poor offensive efforts but the rest of the offensive battery stepped up, combining for 46 kills and .442 led by Leketor Member-Meneh’s 21 kills and .383 hitting. Serena Gray was error-less with 14 kills, .583 hitting.
Bush and Newton were voted to the All-Region team.
This was the final match for graduates Caitlyn Newton and Jena Otec. Seniors Jael Johnson, Grace Cleveland, Moe Hornung, Hayley Bush, and Emma Terwilliger went through senior day festivities but it is not clear whether any will be using their extra year of eligibility.