Fans gathered into the Holloway out of the wind to see Purdue take on Fairfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Purdue has been here before; in fact, this is Dave Shondell’s 18th appearance in his 21 years as head coach at Purdue. But much like the basketball team they have yet to break through into the final four. They made back-to-back elite 8 appearances in 2020 and 2021 only to fall short to that final weekend. If Purdue wants to make a run this year, it all starts tonight in West Lafayette.
Purdue takes the court, and you can sense the urgency. There is an edge to them, they are smiling but serious. They’ve had upsets early on this season and know not to overlook anyone.
Chloe Chicoine gets Purdue on the board early with a kill and follows it up with an ace. The Boilers look to Eva Hudson in the backrow early on, only a sophomore but really the heart of this team. She answers with a kill and Purdue takes a commanding 10-5 lead to start. Fairfield tries to keep up with the length of Purdue, but the duo of Colvin and Myers blocking proves to be too much for their hitters. Fairfield calls a timeout with Purdue up 21-15 to try and slow them down but a Chicoine kill and back-to-back aces from Ali Hornung put this one out of reach after the break. Chicoine seals the set with a kill and Purdue takes set one 25-17.
In set 2, Purdue jumped ahead right away from a Hudson and Colvin kill. Purdue is clicking on all cylinders holding Fairfield to just 3 points before they call a timeout. The Stags come back on a 3-0 run before Colvin hammers one down the middle forcing the side-out. Fairfield never could claw back in this one and Purdue takes set two 25-17 led by Chicoine’s 8 kills.
Purdue is one set away from sweeping the Stags, it’s easy to get comfortable here but the Boilers were all business tonight. The Stags had some fight to start the set but a Taylor Anderson ace and back-to-back kills from Wollard and Carr helped Purdue take control early on and never let their foot off the gas winning the set 25-12 and sweeping the Stags in the first round.
Eva Hudson was unstoppable with 16 kills only having one error on 27 attempts with a .556 hitting percentage. Chicoine had a good night as well posting 15 kills and Raven Colvin chipped in 6 with 4 blocks. Purdue had 7 aces total for the match.
The Boilers now advance to round 2 and take on Marquette in West Lafayette tomorrow. These two teams met up back in September for the Kansas Invitational. Purdue won that match in a 5-set thriller in which two sets went into extra points. Purdue has home court advantage this time and Hudson wasn’t at full strength the last time they met. A win tomorrow night and Purdue advances to the sweet 16 for the 9th time under Coach Shondell.
The match is set for 7pm and can be streamed on ESPN+.