Purdue came out on the right side of a messy match as they bested Tennessee in five sets, 14-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11. Star freshman Eva Hudson posted a double-double racking up 23 kills on .400 hitting to go with 14 digs, one ace, and one block. Emma Ellis and Emily Brown made key plays down the stretch and Grace Balensiefer came off the bench to orchestrate the offense.
Purdue awaits the winner of Louisville and Samford at 6:00 on Saturday; it’ll be broadcast on ESPN+.
In the do-or-die fifth set Eva Hudson did not blink posting seven kills to lead Purdue into the second round. Hudson put away the first two points of the set as Purdue went on a four-point run. Purdue stayed in control the whole set as Tennesse only ever got within two points. Hudson kept banging the ball and Ellis picked up the slack when Hudson was in the back row. Ali Hornung and Maddie Schermerhorn were dialed in from the service line picking up two and one aces respectively in the set.
Down 9-8 in set four Purdue turned things around with a four-point run and hung on. Raven Colvin got a double block with Madeline Koch and then a solo stuff as Purdue got a little separation. Purdue kept a minimum two-point lead til late as the Vols drew within one, 23-22. Ellis came up big getting back-to-back kills to extend Purdue’s season at least another set.
Set three slipped through Purdue’s fingers despite a valiant comeback. The Boilers were down 17-9 when they went on a run on Brown’s serve drawing within one. Purdue kept battling and even went in front 22-21 after two Volunteer errors and a block. Tennessee went back in front after a terrible missed call kept a rally going that ended with a Volunteer kill. Purdue couldn’t recover surrendering an ace and then a hitting error that gave Tennessee the set.
Purdue sided out on the first point of set two and kept the momentum going bouncing back from the disastrous first set. The Boilers got into a side-out rhythm and built a 12-5 lead combining blocks and kills with a slew of Tennessee errors; Purdue hit .577.
What seemed like a foolish challenge by Tennessee three points into the match ended up springboarding the Vols to a 9-1 lead as Purdue was all out of sorts and could not string points together to even mount a comeback down the stretch.
Madeline Koch was the only other Purdue hitter in double figures with 10 kills. Ellis had a solid seven kills and .308 hitting in two sets of play. Balensiefer put up 45 assists. Colvin put up seven blocks. Schermerhorn had 18 digs breaking the program NCAA match record set by Jena Otec last season; she added eight assists and one ace. Hornung finished with three aces and 11 digs. Brown posted two aces and eight digs.
Morgahn Fingall led Tennesse with 25 kills and .333 hitting.
Purdue out-hit, .255-.222, and out-served, 9-4, Tennessee but the Vols outdid Purdue by one block with 12.