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Purdue Volleyball Sweet Sixteen Preview: BYU

The No. 6 seed Boilers (25-6, 15-5) are in Pittsburgh this weekend for the regional semi-final. Purdue will face No. 11 seed BYU (30-1, 18-0) Thursday morning at 11:00 on ESPNU.

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The Boilers are back in the Sweet Sixteen as they look to make the program’s first Final Four; first Purdue will face BYU.

Purdue does have the higher NCAA Tournament seed but BYU was ranked higher in the last AVCA poll, BYU was ranked 5th, and Purdue 8th.

Last weekend the Boilers opened with a sweep over Illinois State then rallied to dominate Dayton in five sets. BYU advanced after sweeping Boise State and beating Utah in four sets.

Match Preview

Purdue has faced BYU five times previously winning only once; most recently Purdue was swept in 2015. The two teams did have a handful of common opponents this season. Both swept UNLV and won over Loyola Marymount in four sets, twice for BYU; the Cougars swept Michigan State whereas Purdue suffered a five-set loss at home at the hands of the Spartans. Regional host Pittsburgh was the only team to beat BYU this season.

Purdue certainly cannot afford to go down two sets against BYU. The Cougars will be one of the toughest serving teams the Boilers have faced this season. Purdue passers Jena Otec and Moe Hornung will have their work cut out for them, whether in a two-passer formation or if Caitlyn Newton or Maddie Schmerhorn are also passing. BYU unlike Dayton has a handful of strong servers, not just two players racking up aces. On the other side of the coin Purdue will have to serve tough; here’s hoping we don’t see any short serves.

Purdue will need to force BYU out of system to slow down their high-powered offense. The Cougars rely heavily on their pin hitters led by West Coast Conference Player of the Year Kenzie Koerber on the right side. BYU’s middles when they get the ball are very efficient. Shondell typically is very loyal to his seniors but he needs to give the nod to Taylor Trammell over Jael Johnson. The Trammell-Grace Cleveland block could give BYU problems.

With it being the first match of the day it’ll be interesting to see who’s ready at the jump. For BYU this will be a 9:00 AM MST start.

Purdue Stats and 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

Sr. 5’10 S 2 Hayley Bush*- 10.22 A/S, 2.48 D/S

Gr. 6’1 OH 4 Caitlyn Newton*- 3.93 K/S, 0.31 SA/S

Fr. 6’1 MB 7 Raven Colvin~- .348, 1.23 B/S (44)

Sr. 5’7 DS 10 Marissa Hornung- 2.76 D/S

So. 6’2 MB 17 Taylor Trammell- .349, 1.35 B/S (13)

Sr. 6’2 MB 18 Jael Johnson- 1.27 B/S (31)

Gr. 5’10 DS 19 Jena Otec!- 4.57 D/S

Sr. 6’3 OH 20 Grace Cleveland*- 3.15 K/S, .293, 1.13 B/S

*All-Big Ten First Team

! All-Big Ten Second Team

~All-Freshman Big Ten Team

Team Averages

Team Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Purdue 13.07 .254 11.82 1.13 15.37 2.99 (3)
Opponents 12.48 .170 11.44 1.0 14.66 1.59

BYU Stats and Key Players

Sr. 6’3 OH 1 Taylen Ballard-Nixon@- 2.6 K/S, .268, 0.37 SA/S

Jr. 6’4 MB 2 Heather Gneiting@- 2.2 K/S, .445 (4), 1.02 B/S

Gr. 6’3 RS 4 Kenzie Koerber@- 3.41 K/S, .356, 2.43 D/S

Jr. 5’9 S 7 Whitney Bower@- 10.36 A/S (46), 2.82 D/S

Sr. 5’8 S 8 Tayler Tausinga Hifo- 0.35 SA/S

So. 6’0 OH 10 Erin Livingston#- 2.53 K/S, .284

So. 5’8 L 18 Madi Allen$- 0.33 SA/S, 3.07 D/S

Gr. 6’5 MB 24 Kennedy Eschenberg- .428 (9), 1.27 B/S (26)

@ All-West Coast Conference First Team

# All-West Coast Conference Second Team

$ All-West Coast Conference Honorable Mention

Heather Olmstead was the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. Koerber was Player of the Year and Bower was the Setter of the Year.

Team Averages

Team Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
BYU 14.23 (9) .338 (3) 12.92 (18) 1.79 (24) 13.75 2.46
Opponents 9.96 .120 (1) 9.26 0.88 11.61 1.45

AVCA All-Northeast Region Honors

Hayley Bush, Grace Cleveland, Caitlyn Newton, and Jena Otec received first-team honors for the second year in a row. Coach Shondell picked up his first region Coach of the Year honor. Region honorees are eligible for AVCA All-America honors.

Purdue Volleyball Alumni Spotlight

Florida head coach and Boiler alum Mary Wise earned her 1000th win last weekend with the Gator's first round win. Wise is the first female head coach in Division I to achieve the feat and is fifth overall in career wins.

Wise is also part of a quartet of female head coaches in the Louisville regional guaranteeing at least one female head coach in the Final Four as still, no female head coach has won a national championship.