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Purdue Volleyball: Elite Eight Preview

Boilers face a familiar foe, Kentucky, with a spot in the Final Four on the line. Catch the match on ESPNU at 9:00 ET.

Purdue Volleyball on Instagram

For the last few years, Purdue has played Kentucky nearly every year. In 2018, Kentucky ended Purdue’s tournament run in the second round. Last season, 2019, Purdue bested the Wildcats in five sets in the regular season. The Boilers hold the edge in the series between the teams by just a game, 11-10. There is a lot more on the line this time as Purdue is looking for its first National Semi-final birth.

The teams will square off tonight around 9:00 ET on ESPNU. Purdue-Kentucky will follow 45 minutes after the Wisconsin-Florida match.

Regional Semi-Final

Purdue handled Oregon in the first two sets last night, but the Ducks came to life in set three and carried that momentum into the fourth. The Boilers got the big plays they needed late in set four and closed the match out.

Full Recap

The Field

Full Bracket

The Pitt Panthers picked up another upset as they took out 3-seed Minnesota, otherwise, the seeds held true although it was not without drama. Only Wisconsin and Nebraska swept their match. Washington was down 11-5 in the fifth set before rallying past Louisville.

Schedule for today

#6 Washington vs Pittsburgh - 12:00 PM ET - ESPN2

#4 Texas vs #5 Nebraska - 2:30 PM ET* - ESPN2

#1 Wisconsin vs #8 Florida - 6:30 PM ET - ESPNU

#2 Kentucky vs #7 Purdue - 9:00 PM ET* - ESPNU

*Second matches of each session will start 45 minutes after the end of the first match

Match Preview

When Purdue needed them late, Caitlyn Newton and Grace Cleveland stepped up and made the plays, scoring crucial points. Newton was resilient, rebounding from a few errors, making a great adjustment taking a little pace off and hitting spots late. Cleveland when she was getting the ball was doing great things. Purdue needs to use Cleveland more and make the most of the 3.5 rotations she’s in for (she serves then subs out once she is done serving). The Boilers have to score points on their own because Kentucky isn’t going to give very many away.

As painful as service errors are to watch, Purdue will have to dial up the service pressure to try to get Kentucky out of system.

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

Jr. 5’10 S 2 Hayley Bush*- 10.73 A/S (28), 2.84 D/S

Sr. 6’1 OH 4 Caitlyn Newton*- 3.93 K/S, 0.47 SA/S (30)

Jr. 5’7 DS 10 Marissa Hornung- 2.75 D/S

Fr. 6’2 MB 17 Taylor Trammell~- .388, 1.64 B/S (4)

Jr. 6’2 MB 18 Jael Johnson- 2.23 K/S, .359, 1.16 B/S

Sr. 5’10 DS 19 Jena Otec*- 4.64 D/S, 0.26 SA/S

Jr. 6’3 OH 20 Grace Cleveland*- 3.26 K/S, .294, 1.45 B/S (14)

*All-Big Ten First Team

~All-Freshman Big Ten Team

Purdue Team Stats

Team Stats Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Stats Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Purdue 13.27 .247 12.3 1.29 15.95 2.96 (4)
Opponents 12.88 .181 11.99 0.84 15.36 1.77


The SEC champs boast the best offense in the country led by Ali Stumler’s 4+ kills per set. Like most teams, the Wildcats rely heavily on their pin hitters. They also have a wildcard in the middle with undersized middle blocker Azhani Tealer who can get up and crush the ball. The Wildcats are low-error and smart. They can attack any area of the court which will make this a tall task for the Boiler defense. The Purdue block will need to stay in front of the hitters and generate good touches if not stuff blocks.

Key Players

Fr. 6’2 OH 2 Madi Skinner#$- 2.6 K, .384 (30)

Sr. 5’11 S 3 Madison Lilley!#- 12.1 A (2), 2.29 D, 0.38 SA

Sr. 6’1 OH 4 Avery Skinner#- 3.83 K, .367 (45)

Sr. 5’8 L 12 Gabby Curry@#- 3.61 D

So. 5’10 RS/MB 15 Azhani Tealer#- 2.63 K, .470 (3), 1.31 B (41)

Jr. 6’1 OH 17 Alli Stumler#- 4.23 K (27), .333, 2.42D, 0.26 SA

! SEC Player of the Year

@ SEC Libero of the Year

# All-SEC team

$ All-Freshman SEC team

Craig Skinner Co-SEC Coach of the year with Jason Watson of Arkansas

Kentucky Team Stats

Team Stats Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Stats Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Kentucky 15.06 (1) .364 (1) 13.74 (2) 1.62 13.3 2.47
Opponents 10.58 .147 (24) 9.86 0.83 11.06 1.36

Stumler hails from Floyds Knobs, IN, and attended the Christian Academy of Indiana.

The two coaching staffs are well acquainted. Head Coach Craig Skinner hails from Muncie and attended Ball State. Assistant Coach Carly Cramer is a Purdue product, graduating in 2013 having played on the last two Purdue Elite Eight squads. Associate Head Coach Anders Nelson played at Ball State and coached with Munciana and at Burris. Volunteer Assistant Jake Romano is also a Ball State product, coached for Munciana, and has helped out at Purdue camps.