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Purdue Volleyball Looks to End Regular Season on a High Note

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Big match tonight for #15 Purdue vs. #3 Minnesota

Rutgers Recap

It took four sets but Purdue (21-7, 12-5) got the win over Rutgers (4-25, 1-16) Wednesday night. Annie Drews led the Boilers as she has done all season long.

Rutgers and Purdue played each other close early in set one til the Boilers created some separation and went up 16-10. It wasn’t long though before Rutgers tied it up at 17. When Purdue went up two the Scarlet Knights got two blocks and another point to take the lead. Purdue though had the last run 4-0 to win the set, 25-22.

After hitting .303 in the first set, Purdue was even better in the second, hitting .385. The Boilers got plenty of help from Rutgers who had 10 hitting errors. Purdue was up early, 8-2, due in part to a couple of Faye Adelaja blocks. Purdue kept the momentum going through the set winning 25-12.

The third set was role reversal for the two teams. Rutgers had the big lead through the set. Initially Rutgers was down 5-2. That was before they went on a 18-4 run. As pitiful as Purdue looked during the stretch they were able to battle back. First a 4-0 run to draw within seven. Rutgers pressed on and got to set point, 24-17. Purdue denied the Scarlet Knights on seven set points to tie the set. With the set no longer on the line Rutgers scored. Purdue answered with a Drews kill, but Rutgers put down two kills to win the set 27-25.

Despite being outhit .059-.129 the Boilers managed to win a close fourth set. Purdue got down 8-3 before rallying and going up 12-11 and later 16-12. The Scarlet Knights tied it back up at 18. Purdue regained the advantage with two kills, then Rutgers ran off three in a row. Purdue came back and got to set point, 24-23. Purdue was denied once and got it on their second chance, winning the set 26-24.

Annie Drews led the Boilers with 21 kills, .312 hitting, an ace and two blocks. Azariah Stahl added 11 kills. Faye Adelaja anchored the middle with 10 kills, .444 hitting, and 2.5 blocks. Amanda Neill played great in the back row getting 18 digs to go with two aces. Alexa Smith added 12 digs. As a team Purdue hit .227 and had eight blocks.

Season Update

Since the last time we checked in with the team Purdue has picked up six wins and dropped three matches. Purdue swept Northwestern then got a hard-fought five set win over then #18 Illinois. Next time out Purdue lost in four sets to both #12 Wisconsin and #4 Minnesota. Purdue came back home and got swept by #8 Nebraska. In their next match Purdue grinded out a five set win over Iowa. The Boilers then went back on the road, beating Maryland and Northwestern in four sets.

Minnesota Match Preview

Saturday night Purdue will take on #3 Minnesota (24-3, 16-1). Minnesota’s only loss in B1G play was in five sets to Penn State in Happy Valley. The Golden Gophers avenged that loss sweeping Penn State last weekend. In the previous meeting between Purdue and Minnesota in Minneapolis, Purdue lost in four sets. Annie Drews led the Boilers with 23 kills. Amanda Neill served three aces and had 18 digs. Faye Adelaja put up two blocks. Purdue hit .156 and had seven blocks. Daly Santana led UMN with 21 kills. Dalianliz Rosado had 15 digs and Molly Lohman contributed 2.5 blocks. Paige Tapp served three aces. The Gophers hit .238 and had 7.5 blocks.

Saturdays match will be a repeat of the battle between two of the conference’s best pin hitters, Annie Drews (4.3 kills/set 2nd in B1G) and Daly Santana (4.5 kills/set 1st in B1G). Purdue will need their middles to hold their own against Minnesota’s middles which I feel they can; Minnesota is second in the conference averaging 2.9 blocks/set. While our middles aren’t as physical they are efficient Adelaja, .410, and Cuttino, .340, are third and fifth in the conference for hitting percentage. What will be the difference maker is outside hitting. If we don’t get any production from our outsides we don’t stand a chance of winning. This has been a problem all season long; so far this season looking at Stahl, Smith, Epenensa, and Dimke’s averages Purdue only gets 2.9 kills/sets from their outside hitters. Hopefully they can rise to the occasion Saturday night and the Boilers can score the upset. Ashely Evans does an admirable job running Purdue’s offense, but her counter-part on the other side of the net is even more impressive. Samantha Seliger-Swenson averages 11.43 assists/set 2nd in the B1G.

Hugh McCutcheon has orchestrated quite the turnaround for Minnesota. Last season Minnesota finished 19-12, 9-11 in conference play, missing the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers graduated one starter. The key difference between this year’s and last year’s team is freshman setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson the #8 recruit in the class of 2015.

In the preseason rankings Minnesota was receiving votes but was outside the top 25. The Gophers dropped their first two matches to Texas A&M and Stanford. Minnesota didn’t lose again though until they played Penn State, during which time they slowly climbed the rankings. Even with the five set loss to the Nittany Lions Minnesota kept climbing the rankings to where they sit now at #3 garnering first-place votes.

Conference Standings

Overall

Conference

W-L

%

W-L

%

1.

Minnesota

24-3

.889

16-1

.941

2.

Nebraska

23-4

.852

14-3

.824

3.

Penn State

24-4

.857

13-4

.765

Wisconsin

21-6

.778

13-4

.765

5.

Purdue

21-7

.750

12-5

.706

6.

Ohio State

22-7

.759

11-6

.647

7.

Illinois

18-10

.643

9-8

.529

8.

Michigan

18-10

.643

8-9

.471

9.

Michigan State

15-13

.536

7-10

.412

10.

Indiana

15-14

.517

5-12

.294

Northwestern

13-15

.464

5-12

.294

12.

Maryland

13-18

.419

3-14

.176

13.

Iowa

12-18

.400

2-15

.118

14.

Rutgers

4-25

.138

1-16

.059

AVCA Rankings

  1. USC (28-1)
  2. Washington (26-2)
  3. Minnesota (24-3)
  4. Penn State (24-4)
  5. Texas (23-2)
Other ranked B1G teams are #6 Nebraska, #10 Wisconsin, #15 Purdue, #16 Ohio State, #18 Illinois, and Michigan receiving votes. The only other one-loss team in the top 25 is #8 Hawaii. The top 5 will look different as Penn State loss to Michigan in four sets at home. Penn State will likely fall but still be in the top 10 and Michigan should enter the top 25 in Monday's rankings.

NCAA Tournament Outlook

Purude was 33rd in the latest RPI rankings realeased. There shouldn't be any concern over whether Purdue will make the tournament. We can focus on where they'll play. If Purdue gets a top 16 seed they would host first and second round matches. A win over Minnesota or Wisconsin next Saturday could help them lock that up.