Purdue was looking to follow-up its upset over No. 12 Ohio State with another. They threw everything they had at Penn State and it was almost enough. Purdue lost in 5 to the Nittany Lions, 16-25, 25-21, 25-16, 22-25, 15-8. The Ladies showed resilience coming back after sets two and three but weren't able to maintain their intensity if the fifth set. Sam Epenesa led the Purdue offense and had a match-high 16 kills. Faye Adelaja turned in another strong performance contributing to seven blocks. Carly Cramer had 16 digs followed by Hilliary Fox with 13.
Purdue came out ready to play. Purdue didn't really separate themselves from Penn State til late in the set when they went up 6. Penn State errors allowed Purdue to gain a 19-13 advantage. Purdue's offense was on point hitting .433.
The offensive firepower from the first set was absent from the second set, as the Boilers only managed to hit .032. It was an error plagued performance, hitting errors and serving errors. The Penn State attack was led by All-American Ariel Scott. Purdue kept themselves within striking distance until late with Penn State got a 24-18 advantage. Two blocks and a kill forced Penn State to play 4 set points. Purdue's strong blocking allowed them to overcome some errors but it wasn't enough.
In the third set Purdue's offense wasn't any better than in the second. Penn State jumped out to a 4-0 lead and Purdue then rallied to tie them but that was as close as they would be the rest of the match. The third set featured Penn State's strong blocking as they set the tone with five stuffs.
Things didn't look much better at the start of the fourth. Purdue quickly found themselves down 10-3. The ladies regrouped and a 7-2 run earned them a 17-15 lead. A Carly Cramer ace and strong play from the middles Kiki Jones and Faye Adelaja allowed Purdue to maintain their lead and close the match out.
Sadly Purdue's tremendous play was all spent before the fifth set. The hitting errors returned; meanwhile Penn State had no errors and hit .615. Purdue got down 7-2 and was never able to get closer than four. Sam Epenesa and Katie Griffin did their best to prolong the match with kills but a Penn State kill ended the match.
Penn State's size and defense and size were too much for the Boilers. Solid passing and defensive performances were overshadowed by offensive ineptitude. Aside from Sam Epenesa and the middles the offense lacked punch. Jones and Adelaja together had 15 kills and one error. Catherine Rebarchak had 8 kills, Val Nichol 7, Annie Drews 6.
Next weekend Purdue faces Illinois and Northwestern. Illinois is also coming off a 1-1 weekend with an upset over a ranked foe. Saturday night Illinois took down No. 14 Michigan in five sets. The match-up Friday night with Illinois will be played in Mackey Arena, for the promotion Operation 14K. Northwestern brings All-Big Ten outside hitter Stephanie Holthus to West Lafayette. If Purdue plays like they did Saturday night and cleans up some errors they should have no problem next weekend. The Boilers pushed Penn State to five sets but were unable to win the match as No. 5 Penn State prevailed.