Welcome back to Purdue Volleyball coverage here on Hammer & Rails. Apologies it has been a delayed start, but we’ll dive right in and I’ll catch you up on what’s going with college volleyball and the Purdue team.
Most of the 2020 college volleyball season got pushed to this spring. Some conferences including the ACC, Big 12, and SEC in the power five conferences did play fall slates but the Big Ten was not one of them. Another change the B1G made was to scrap non-conference play. This spring, league teams are playing two-game weekend series against 10 different teams and a home-and-home against their closest neighbor. The three aforementioned leagues are playing a variety of non-conference and conference matches now in the spring.
Of course, the NCAA Tournament was also pushed to the spring and there are other changes. The tournament field has been shrunk down to 48 eliminating nearly half the at-large bids; there will be 18 at-large bids as the Big West and Ivy League are not playing this season freeing up two automatic bids. Similar to other 2020/21 NCAA Championships the Women’s Volleyball Tournament will take place at one location, Omaha, Nebraska. The schedule has also been compressed from three weekends to a week and a half, April 13-24.
Purdue so far…
The Boilers boast a 7-4 record and have played two series against top ten teams already. Unfortunately for Purdue, they were swept in both of those series but they have been formidable. Here’s a look at how each weekend series has gone so far starting with week one...
At #1 Wisconsin
Purdue opened the season with junior All-American Grace Cleveland unavailable due to a non-covid illness. Without our second-leading scorer, the Boilers stood little chance of matching Wisconsin’s explosive offense. Wisconsin smoked Purdue on Friday night hitting .415 on the match as they swept the Purdue 25-14, 25-15, 25-16. The match on Saturday was more competitive, 25-18, 25-21, 25-19 but Purdue still hit in the low .100s as the Badger block registered 10 stuffs.
Still, no Cleveland but Purdue swept the Hawkeyes in both matches; 25-19, 25-15, 25-17, and 25-16, 25-15, 25-21.
Vs. #6 Minnesota
Cleveland was back in time for the showdown with the Gophers. Purdue pushed them to the limit but dropped both matches in five sets. In Friday’s match, Purdue was serving bullets racking up 13 aces but it wasn’t enough to throw off Stephanie Samedy and Minnesota. Samedy put away 28 kills on .371 hitting as the Minnesota offense outpaced Purdue; 20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-21, 15-7. Like the previous night, Purdue battled but came apart in the fifth set; 25-18, 17-25, 17-25, 25-21, 15-9. Senior Caitlyn Newton set a career-high with 29 kills in the loss.
At #24 Michigan
Purdue was Michigan’s season opener after their Covid pause and the Boilers welcomed them back to action with two L’s. Purdue’s block was locked in all weekend posting 17 stuffs Saturday and 15 on Sunday. Both matches went four sets; Saturday 25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 25-22 and Sunday 26-24, 22-25, 25-13, 25-18.
The Wildcats were also coming off a Covid pause when they came to town. Purdue roughed them up in the first match taking it 25-20, 25-15, 25-13. Purdue hit .264, served up six aces, and tallied 11 blocks. The second match was not as dominant as Purdue dropped a set, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15, 25-19.
Purdue went south Tuesday evening and came away with a sweep over the Hoosiers getting better each set; 25-20, 25-17, 25-14. Purdue gifted IU nine unforced errors in the first set but got the offense going late in the set to pull away. Purdue’s block was key, also getting six stuffs in the opening set. A strong serve-pass effort carried Purdue in the second set. Serving sub Emma Terwilliger had three consecutive aces late in the set to extend the Boiler lead to 21-10. A 7-0 run on Jena Otec’s serve propelled Purdue to the win in set three.
Next Purdue will host the Hoosiers on Sunday at 4:30; it will air on BTN.
Rest of the Big Ten
Big Ten Standings
Dana Rettke and company are the number one team in the country having returned most of the contributors from their National Runner-up Badger squad. They’ve added talented newcomers to fill the gaps in their lineup. Wisconsin will face their first big test this weekend against Nebraska.
A handful of teams have had Covid pauses most notable is Michigan who is on pause again having postponed this weekend’s matches. In addition to Northwestern, Penn State has had to miss action. They were originally supposed to open against Michigan which was called off then they had a pause of their own missing the next week of play and was short-handed during their opening matches during week three.
First-Year Coaches Succeeding
Jen Flynn Oldenburg has her Buckeyes off to a fast start this season as their record is unblemished. So far the Ohio State schedule has been fairly soft although they did take a five-setter off Penn State. We’ll see how legit the Buckeyes are over the back half as they’ll face Penn State again, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Purdue.
Rutgers finally made a coaching move and it’s already paying dividends. Ex-Northeastern head coach, Caitlin Schweihoffer, has already matched Rutgers’ most Big Ten wins in a season.
- Wisconsin (51)
- Texas (8)
- Kentucky (1)
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Georgia Tech
- Washington State
- San Diego
- Ohio State
- Western Kentucky
Receiving Votes: Stanford 101; Michigan 26; Hawai’i 24; Pepperdine 21; Texas State 21; Tennessee 16; Kansas State 14; UCF 14; Texas A&M 8; Bowling Green 6; UNLV 6
Annie Drews (2012-2015) just won back-to-back championships with her team in the Japanese V.League.
A new domestic indoor professional league, Athletes Unlimited, is kicking off down in Dallas this weekend. Val Nichol (2011-2014) and Sherridan Atkinson (2016-2018) are both playing.
If you’re interested here’s more information