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Purdue Volleyball: SMU Preview

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A look at Purdue's first round opponent, the SMU Mustangs

Purdue (22-9) ended the regular season with two losses to finish 5th in the conference with a 13-7 record. The Boilers will take on the SMU Mustangs in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

SMU Preview

SMU is the American Athletic Conference champion earning an automatic bid into the tournament for their first tournament appearance in program history. SMU received votes in this week's AVCA rankings and is 32nd in RPI standings; Purdue was 17th and 35th. This is essentially an 8/9 match-up. The winner of the match will mostly likely face #3 Texas, the top seed in the Austin regional, who plays Fairfield in the first round.

This season the Mustangs were 0-1 against the AVCA Top 25 falling to UCLA, and 3-2 against teams that finished in the Top 50 of the RPI standings. The Mustangs are balanced offensively and very sound defensively; physical along the net and skilled in the back row. SMU has some great players who are among the nation's best in different categories.

SMU Line-up

Middle Blocker Janelle Giordana, Jr. 2.55 kills/set, .394 hitting percentage-31st in country, 1.61 blocks/set-3rd First Team All-AAC

Outside Hitter Abbey Bybel, Sr. 3.01 k/s, 2.62 digs/set, Second Team All-AAC

OH Cailin Bula, Sr. 2.61 k/s, .269, Second Team All-AAC

MB Kristen Stehling, Jr. 2.25 k/s, .310, .86 b/s

Opposite Hitter Katie Hegarty, So. 2.47 k/s, .77 b/s

OH/Defensive Specialist Brittany Adams, Fr. 2.07 d/s

OH/DS Lauren Mills, So. .31 aces/set 2.07 d/s

Setter Avery Acker, Sr. 12.53 assists/set-1st, 2.88 d/s, AAC-Player and Setter of the Year, First Team All-AAC

Libero Morgan Heise, Jr. 6.14 d/s-2nd AAC- Libero of the Year, First Team All-AAC

Lisa Siefert- AAC Coach of the Year

TEAM 14.42 k/s, .247, .94 aces/set, 17.57 d/s-11th, 2.64 b/s-29th

OPPONENTS 12.3 k/s, .156, .75 aces/set, 17.27 d/s, 1.89 b/s

Purdue Line-up

MB Faye Adelaja, Jr. 2.34 k/s, .405-20th, .89 b/s

MB Danielle Cuttino So. 2.04 k/s, .352, 1.19 b/s

S Ashley Evans So. 11.04 assists/s-29th, 2.38 d/s

Opp Annie Drews Sr. 4.26 k/s-31st, .257, .69 b/s

OH Sam Epenesa Sr. 2.07 k/s

OH Azariah Stahl So. 1.81 k/s

OH/DS Alexa Smith Fr. 2.13 d/s

DS Brooke Peters Fr. .29 aces/set

DS Kate Workman Sr. 1.26 d/set

L Amanda Neill Sr. 3.96 d/s, .25 aces/set

TEAM 13.88 k/s, .264-24th, 1.22 aces/set, 14.04 d/s, 2.34 b/s

OPPONENTS 12.17 k/s, .190, 1.31 aces/set, 12.76 d/s, 1.82 b/s

One thing it appears Purdue doesn't have to worry about is SMU's serving; the Mustangs average under an ace a set which bodes well for Purdue. The Boilers have struggled in serve receive lately and passing easier balls will help setter Ashley Evans who has had her own struggles as well. Evans and Adelaja never got on the same page against Wisconsin and we payed for it as Wisconsin made their runs with Adelaja on the floor. Cuttino and Adelaja can outplay SMU's middles but we have to get them the ball early and often. Aside from the middles Annie Drews will be key as Purdue has a go-to hitter, something SMU doesn't have. What will hurt us though is that sometimes Drews is the only one getting kills. Purdue will need to play like they did against Minnesota to advance. SMU may have some what of a home-court advantage playing only three hours from home; Prediction: Purdue in four sets

Match starts at 5:30 ET Thursday Radio

NCAA Tournament

Nine Big Ten teams made the tournament this year, the most from any conference; the Pac-12 was second with seven. #2 Minnesota and #4 Nebraska are the top seeds in their respective regionals, Des Moines and Lexington. For volleyball the top 16 teams are seeded, as opposed to four #1 seeds and so forth for the basketball tournament.

First round match-ups for B1G teams

#2 Minnesota (26-4) vs Jackson State (15-21) in Minneapolis, Minnesota- Des Moines Regional

#4 Nebraska (26-4) vs Harvard (15-10) in Lincoln, Nebraska- Lexington Regional

#6 Wisconsin (24-6) vs Oregon (16-13) in Madison, Wisconsin- Austin Regional

#7 Penn State (26-5) vs Howard (18-13) in State College, Pennsylvania- Des Moines Regional

#12 Ohio State (23-9) vs Robert Morris (19-12) in Columbus, Ohio- Lexington Regional

Michigan State (18-13) vs Arkansas State (28-1) in Seattle, Washington- Lexington Regional

Illinois (19-12) vs Southern Illinois (23-9) in Louisville, Kentucky- Des Moines Regional

Michigan (19-12) vs Santa Clara (22-8) in Los Angeles, California- Austin Regional

Purdue (22-9) vs SMU (27-5) in Austin, Texas- Austin Regional

It can't be an all-Big Ten Final Four, since there are no teams in the San Diego regional but it is a definite possibility that that three B1G teams make it to Omaha.

Final B1G Standings

W-L % W-L %
1. Minnesota 26-4 .867 18-2 .900
2. Nebraska 26-4 .867 17-3 .850
3. Wisconsin 24-6 .800 16-4 .800
4. Penn State 26-5 .839 15-5 .750
5. Purdue 22-9 .710 13-7 .650
6. Ohio State 23-9 .719 12-8 .600
7. Illinois 19-12 .613 10-10 .500
Michigan State 18-13 .581 10-10 .500
9. Michigan 19-12 .613 9-11 .450
10. Indiana 16-16 .500 6-14 .300
Northwestern 14-17 .452 6-14 .300
12. Maryland 15-19 .441 5-15 .250
13. Iowa 12-21 .364 2-18 .100
14. Rutgers 4-28 .125 1-19 .050

Conference Awards

The Big Ten announced conference award winners today. Annie Drews was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team. Faye Adelaja was an honorable mention selection. Amanda Neill was the Sportsmanship Award honoree for the Boilers.

Player of the Year: Daly Santana Sr. OH, Minnesota

Defensive Player of the Year: Justine Wong-Orantes Jr. L, Nebraska

Setter of the Year: Lauren Carlini Jr. S, Wisconsin

Freshman of the Year: Samantha Seliger-Swenson Fr. S, Minnesota

Coach of the Year: Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota

MSU Recap

Purdue lost a closely contested match against  the Michigan State Spartans in five sets.

Like the previous sets, the fifth set was tightly contested. Down 8-6 at the changeover Purdue rallied and scored four straight. Maintaining the two point margin Purdue went up 13-11. The Spartans answered with a four point run to steal away the fifth set, 15-13.

Michigan State started the match red hot, hitting .435. Down early, Purdue went on a 8-2 run to go up 11-9. The Boilers didn't hold onto the lead for long. MSU rallied, winning six of eight, to put Purdue down 18-16. Purdue tied it up but MSU kept the lead winning 25-21.

Both teams made runs at the other in the second set but Purdue ended up on top. With Michigan State up 10-9 the Boilers surged ahead 14-12 with an ace and three kills. MSU responded and retook the lead 16-15. Purdue answered putting together a 8-2 run to take the lead for good. Purdue won the set 25-22 after losing three set points.

Purdue held the lead a handful of times in the third set, but each time Michigan State rallied. Up 14-10 Purdue's advantage disappeared as the Spartans ran off five in a row. That started a stretch of ties until Purdue went up 20-18. MSU scored three straight, and later held a 23-21 advantage. Annie Drews put down a kill and MSU hitting error helped Purdue tie the set again. Michigan State however recovered, registering a kill and serving an ace to end the set up 25-23.

Out of the gate Purdue scored seven straight to give themselves a comfortable lead in the fourth set. MSU fought though and tied the set up at 17. Purdue pressed on going up 21-19 before Annie Drews and company closed the set 25-20; Drews had two kills and a block during the 4-1 run to clinch the set.

Annie Drews led Purdue with 23 kills and .298 hitting percentage. Faye Adelaja added 10 kills. Danielle Cuttino contributed four blocks. Brooke Peters served three aces. Amanda Neill recorded 16 digs.

Wisconsin Recap

Saturday Night Purdue tried to redeem themselves from Wednesday nights performance but faced a formidable opponent in the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin's balanced efficient attack and tough serving kept Purdue from getting into a rhythm.

Purdue got down early in the first set and was able to battle back, but Wisconsin answered each rally. Down four Purdue got solid play on all fronts; an ace, a block, and two kills; to tie the set at 10. Wisconsin scored four straight and pushed their lead to five later, 18-13. Purdue won six of the next seven to tie the set again. The Badgers won three straight to go up 22-19. Azariah Stahl and Danielle Cuttino kept Purdue close with kills, but Wisconsin carried the margin to the end, 25-22.

Purdue tried hard in the second set, but Wisconsin always had an answer for the Boilers. Wisconsin got the early advantage 9-3. Purdue got within two, 12-10, with a couple of blocks, a Brooke Peters ace, and three kills. Purdue struggled to get any offense and Wisconsin extended their lead back to six, 18-12. The Boilers drew within three, 20-17, but couldn't get closer, losing the set 25-19.

A big Badger run was too much for the Boilers in the third set. After splitting the early points, Wisconsin went on a 10-2 run. Down 12-5 Purdue worked and drew within four twice. With a 19-15 lead Wisconsin went on a 5-2 run to get to match point. A Cuttino-Drews block and Drews kill kept the Badgers from clinching the match on their first two attempts. Wisconsin converted their third, winning 25-19.

The Badgers hit .319 including a .750, 13 kill effort from Romana Kriskova and .500, 11 kill effort from Haleigh Nelson. Taylor Morey served two aces to go with 15 digs. Lauryn Gillis also hit over .300, .355, putting down 14 kills.

Annie Drews led the Boilers with 14 kills. Danielle Cuttino contributed on six blocks. Amanda Neill led in the back row with 15 digs.

It was not a good match for Ashley Evans. Evans struggled connecting with middle Faye Adelaja multiple times and didn't run the offense well. Purdue struggled passing which compounded the offensive woes. Annie Drews did her job getting 14 kills, but she had no help. Azariah Stahl and Adelaja finished with six kills which were the second most on the team.

Before the match Purdue honored five seniors: Sam Epenesa, Kaisley Fisher, Annie Drews, Kate Workman, and Amanda Neill. Fisher who has battled multiple injures got the starting nod from Coach Shondell.