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Purdue Volleyball Recap: Weeks 1 & 2

Well, the door lies open, and Purdue just has to step through it. The Purdue Boilermakers entered the season ranked #8 in the country, with every major contributor returning from last year’s Elite Eight squad. However, Purdue’s team is heavily reliant on seniors, so the window for NCAA contention could close after this fall. Don’t misunderstand me: I fully expect Purdue to be good next season. However, unless there is significant improvement, I don’t think that they will be back in the Elite Eight. Therefore, there is some time pressure to at least hold status quo, and hopefully make this a season of firsts.

8/27: FINAL—#8 Purdue 3, Loyola Marymount (CA) 1

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Loyola Marymount (CA)

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#8 Purdue

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Key Leaders:

Caitlyn Newton: 14 kills, .414 hitting percentage, 1 service ace, 7 digs

Taylor Trammell: 6 kills, .417 hitting percentage, 3 assisted blocks

Hayley Bush: 41 assists, 8 digs

Well, this was not the start I was hoping for. Purdue still won, so I can’t complain too much, but this was a poor start by most statistical comparisons. Loyola Marymount had more kills (60 to 50), more assists (54 to 46), more aces (8 to 7), and even more blocks (4.0 to 3.0). Aberrations happen though, and I’m guessing based on the other results from the past two weeks that the Boilermakers needed to shake off some rust.

8/29: FINAL—#8 Purdue 3, Kansas 0

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Kansas

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#8 Purdue

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Key Leaders:

Grace Cleveland: 9 kills, 2 service aces, 4 assisted blocks

Hayley Bush: 5 kills, 1.000 hitting percentage, 29 assists, 7 digs

Taylor Trammell: 8 kills, .412 hitting percentage, 6 assisted blocks

Since Kansas was receiving votes in the preseason polls, I was hoping that any rust had been disposed of during the Loyola Marymount match, and evidently Purdue had put that match behind them. That was certainly true, as Purdue won their second match in the Reamer Club Xtra Special Volleyball Premier over Kansas without too much trouble. Purdue was dominant statistically, with a better hitting percentage (.303 to .077), more kills (42 to 33), more aces (4 to 3), more assists (37 to 28), and more blocks (12 to 2).

9/2: FINAL—#8 Purdue 3, Nevada-Las Vegas 0

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#8 Purdue

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Nevada-Las Vegas

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Key Players:

Hayley Bush: .375 hitting percentage, 31 assists, 1 solo block, 1 assisted block, 9 digs

Jael Johnson: 10 kills, .444 hitting percentage, 3 assisted blocks

Grace Cleveland: 13 kills, .565 hitting percentage, 4 assisted blocks

Purdue was able to avoid the upset and knock off the host Rebels in the opening match of the Rebel Challenge. Despite the score, Nevada-Las Vegas won most of the statistical categories, including kills (45 to 41), aces (6 to 1), assists (36 to 32), and digs (39 to 38). However, Purdue was more consistent and fundamentally sound, and Nevada-Las Vegas was beating themselves often enough that Purdue could just sit back and take points.

9/3: FINAL—#8 Purdue 3, #T25 Washington State 0

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#8 Purdue

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#T25 Washington State

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Key Players:

Caitlyn Newton: 15 kills, 1 service ace, 7 digs

Jena Otec: 1 assist, 25 digs

Grace Cleveland: 13 kills, .407 hitting percentage, 1 service ace, 5 block assists

While Washington State came into this tournament at 0-2, their talent level was still considerable enough that they snuck into the rankings. Therefore, I think this will still hold weight as a decent win when considerations are made for NCAA placements, especially considering that it came away from Holloway Gymnasium. After the first two sets were won, the third set was a back-and-forth battle where neither side had a lead larger than two points until Purdue rattled off five straight points to take a 22-19 lead. After the teams split the next two points, Washington State scored three straight points to tie the set again. The teams returned to splitting points until a couple of Grace Cleveland kills finally put the set and the match in Purdue’s hands. Statistically, Purdue was better everywhere except maybe in serving, so this was quite a complete win.

The Road Ahead:

Purdue has had a pretty tough nonconference schedule so far, and there are still some tough matches remaining in the nonconference season. The next match is in Cincinnati against #10 Louisville, and winning that would be a very nice asset in NCAA tournament rankings and placement. The next three matches should all be fairly easy, but one more challenge awaits the Boilermakers before the beginning of the Big Ten season: a home match against #23 Tennessee. If Purdue can win out for the remainder of the nonconference season, it would have a very strong argument to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament and maybe, if they perform well in conference play, host the two rounds after that.

Ranked Big Ten Teams:

#2 Wisconsin, #3 Nebraska, #T4 Ohio State, #6 Purdue, #13 Minnesota, #18 Penn State

Nonconference Opponent Report:

Loyola Marymount (CA)—4-1, 0-0

Recent Results: @#8 Purdue (1-3), ag Kansas (3-1), @Fresno State (3-1), ag California-Riverside (3-1), ag Cal State-Northridge (3-0)

Kansas—2-3, 0-0

Recent Results: ag Loyola Marymount (1-3), @#8 Purdue (0-3), @Lipscomb (3-0), ag Wake Forest (3-2), ag #15 Western Kentucky (0-3)

Nevada-Las Vegas—3-2, 0-0

Recent Results: ag Long Island (3-0), ag Southern Utah (3-0), @#15 Brigham Young (0-3), #8 Purdue (0-3), #T25 Washington State (3-1)

Washington State—0-4, 0-0

Recent Results: @South Carolina (2-3), ag #9 Pittsburgh (1-3), ag #8 Purdue (0-3), @Nevada-Las Vegas (1-3)

Louisville—6-0, 0-0

Recent Results: ag Cal Poly (3-0), ag Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-0), @Arizona State (3-2), Missouri (3-0), South Dakota (3-0), Northern Kentucky (3-0)

Lipscomb—1-4, 0-0

Recent Results: ag Houston (2-3), @Oklahoma (3-1), Kansas (0-3), #15 Western Kentucky (1-3), Wake Forest (1-3)

Xavier—3-3, 0-0

Recent Results: ag South Carolina State (3-0), @North Carolina-Charlotte (1-3), ag Colorado (1-3), ag Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (3-0), ag Eastern Kentucky (3-0), @Loyola (IL) (2-3)

Jacksonville State—5-1, 0-0

Recent Results: Gardner-Webb (3-0), Alabama State (3-0), Middle Tennessee State (3-0), Tennessee-Chattanooga (3-0), ag Wyoming (1-3), @Charleston Southern (3-1)

Purdue-Fort Wayne—1-5, 0-0

Recent Results: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (2-3), Evansville (0-3), Kent State (2-3), ag Southeast Missouri State (0-3), ag Indiana (0-3), @Western Michigan (3-1)

Tennessee—4-1, 0-0

Recent Results: Texas Tech (3-0), East Tennessee State (3-0), North Carolina State (3-0), #9 Baylor (3-2), #7 Pittsburgh (2-3)


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