Purdue Volleyball (22-8, 12-6) had their worst hitting performance of the season and they paid for it against the Gophers. Minnesota swept Purdue in an ugly match for the Boilers.
Purdue fought hard in the first set but hitting errors at the end were their undoing. Purdue was down 8-4 early but came right back with a five point rally to take the lead. The teams traded points until they reached a 14-14 tie. Later with the score tied at 17 Minnesota went on a 5-1 run to go up 22-18. Purdue drew within one, but couldn't find the court on their next three hitting attempts and they lost 25-21.
In the second set it was Purdue who had the early lead. Unfortunately they were never able to distance themselves from Minnesota. With Purdue clinging to an 8-7 lead the Gophers went on an eight point run. Purdue fueled the Gopher run with six attacking errors. Purdue was never able to fully recover. The Boilers cut the margin to six twice but ended up losing 25-17. Purdue hit -0.024 during the set.
Purdue was more competitive in the third set but they still got handled. Minnesota never trailed winning 25-16. The Gophers got up 6-3 early on. Purdue would get no closer than two the rest of the way. Up 8-6, Minnesota used a 6-1 run to create separation. From there the margin only grew.
Purdue had an abysmal night hitting only .066 and getting out blocked 13-4. Three different hitters had negative hitting percentages. Danielle Cuttino was the lone bright spot for the Boilers. Cuttino hit .529 and put down 10 kills. Val Nichol had 25 assists. Lydia Dimke only posted nine. Dimke did however lead the defense with 10 digs. KiKi Jones led at the net with three blocks.
Daly Santana led Minnesota with 15 kills. Paige Tapp had 10 block assists.
Purdue is holding steady at fifth place in the conference. Wisconsin remains in first place trailed by Penn State in second place, and Illinois and Nebraska who are tied for third. Purdue is two games ahead of sixth place Ohio State.
Purdue fell to No. 19 in this week's AVCA rankings. Wisconsin is still No. 2 behind undefeated Stanford. No. 4 Penn State is the next conference team listed. Other conference teams making appearances are No. 10 Nebraska, No. 11 Illinois, and No. 20 Ohio State. If No. 5 Washington were to beat Stanford Wednesday night Wisconsin would likely be the No. 1 team heading into the NCAA Tournament next week, assuming the Badgers beat Purdue Friday. Stanford, while perfect, has not dominated absolutely every opponent. They've been pushed to five sets five times and have only swept half of their opponents.
This week Purdue will take on Michigan State (16-13, 9-9) Wednesday night and then Wisconsin (26-2, 17-1) on Friday night to end regular season play.
Purdue first faced Michigan State during the first week of conference play. The Spartans were able to push Purdue to four sets before falling. It was a tight match; two of the sets were decided by two points and the other two were decided by three points. Three different Spartans posted double digit kills. Libero Kori Moster had 23 digs. MSU out blocked Purdue 13-9, but Purdue outhit State .193-.160. Four Boilers had double-digit kills led by Annie Drews' 20 kill effort. Additionally four Purdue players had double digit digs.
Michigan State has gone 8-8 in conference play since visiting West Lafayette. Chloe Renig paces State with 3.64 kills/set which is fifth best in the conference. Rachel Minarick and Kristen Muir both average .2+ aces/set. Moster pulls up 4.56 digs/set, fourth best in the B1G. Jazmine White and Alyssa Garvelink block at least one hit each set. State is second in the conference in that their opponents only average hitting .164.
When the Badgers came to campus they swept the Boilers. Wisconsin outhit and out blocked Purdue .379-.203 and 10-1. Three Badgers carried the offensive load for Wisconsin registering 11+ kills each and all hitting over .300. Dominque Thompson was the star of the match hitting .786, putting away 11 kills, and contributing on seven blocks. Annie Drews led Purdue with 16 kills. Amanda Neill managed 16 digs. At this point in the season Purdue was still using a 5-1 offense.
Wisconsin's only loss in conference play came in the B1G opener back in September. Four Badgers average 2.7+ kills/set while three also hit .300+. Lauren Carlini averages .4 aces/set; her 11.49 assists/set are best in the conference. Taylor Morey anchors the conference's best back row with a conference leading 5.17 digs/set. Dominque Thompson and Haleigh Nelson both block 1.1+ hits/set.
As far as Purdue's statistics go Annie Drew's paces the team with 3.86 kills/set, third best in the conference. KiKi Jones and Faye Adelaja hit .371 and .351 respectively which are good for fifth and seventh in the Big Ten. Jones and Danielle Cuttino post 1.01 blocks/set. Lydia Dimke is the team's best server with .27 aces a set. Purdue is third in conference in kills/set and hitting percentage.