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Texas Ends Purdue Volleyball's Season

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Purdue battled pushing #3 Texas to four sets, losing in the final set after extra points.

Purdue Volleyball (23-10) lost a tough, four-set match against a good Texas squad in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. After a forgettable first set Purdue came back gave Texas the same treatment. The third set was close early but Texas blew it open late, gaining the set advantage. Purdue battled hard in the fourth set denying Texas twice on match point before falling.

Purdue started the first set with errors on four of the first six points and got down 5-1. Annie Drews got on track registering two kills in a 4-1 run to draw within one. Purdue hurt themselves missing two consecutive serves as Texas started to pull away. Purdue cleaned their game up but Texas's offense took over as they started generating points on their own going on a 7-2 run to go up 15-9. Texas kept rolling and Purdue finished the set with three straight errors losing 25-14. Texas outhit Purdue .407-.081.

The two teams traded points and the lead early in the second set. Kills from Danielle Cuttino, Annie Drews, Sam Epenesa, and a solo block from Cuttino keyed a 7-1 run to put Purdue up 12-7. Purdue continued to frustrate the Longhorns. Lydia Dimke served back-to-back aces as Purdue went on a 6-0 run to go up 20-10. Purdue capped of a dominating second set with a Cuttino-Drews block to win the set 25-14. Purdue outhit Texas .360-(-.030).

A dominant five point stretch by the Boilers got them the early lead from Texas, 7-3; Annie Drews put down two kills, Azariah Stahl slammed home an overpass kill, and Ashley Evans and Faye Adelaja denied Texas on back-to-back points. Texas answered with 6-1 run to take the lead, 9-8. The teams traded points til Ashley Evans struck with a heads-up play dumping the ball for a kill on a free ball pass getting Purdue the 13-12 lead. Purdue surrendered their lead two points later as Texas mounted a 10-3 run, the Boilers only committed two errors over that stretch but they just could not slow down Texas. Two Annie Drews kills kept Texas from clinching the set initially; their third attempt was good winning 25-19. Texas hit .405.

With the season on the line Purdue battled hard pushing Texas to extra points before falling 27-25. The largest lead for either team during the set was three points. Purdue used a 5-0 run to go up 12-9 after two Texas errors, a Drews kill, and blocks from Drews-Cuttino and a solo from Alexa Smith who replaced Azariah Stahl in the front row. On the next point, with Texas scrambling and out of position, Ashley Evans took a free ball over on the first hit and it just missed catching the back line. It what was perhaps the turning point in the set. This jump started a 9-3 Texas run. Purdue committed three errors to get Texas closer to match point, 21-18. Alexa Smith keyed a 4-1 run with an ace and a kill from the back row to tie the set at 22. Texas put down a kill then Faye Adelaja and Annie Drews teamed up for a block to tie it back up. Texas got a kill on an out of system ball earning their first match point. Texas middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu mishandled the second hit saving Purdue. Ogbogu redeemed herself putting down a kill putting Texas up 25-24. Alexa Smith delivered for Purdue slamming one down to give Purdue another chance. Texas went to their Big Twelve Player of the Year, Amy Neal, on the next two points and she delivered scoring two kills and the Longhorn win 27-25.

Texas outhit Purdue .219-.167. Purdue had the blocking advantage 11-7.

Texas was led by Amy Neal's 17 kills, .262 hitting, seven digs, and two aces. Texas's other hitters all registered nine or eight kills. Chiaka Ogbogu tallied four blocks and eight digs. Cat McCoy finished with 18 digs and two aces. Nicole Dalton also had two aces. Chloe Collins put up 44 assists.

In her final match as a Boilermaker Annie Drews had 18 kills, seven digs, three block assists and hit .222. Faye Adelaja had nine kills and six blocks. Danielle Cuttino finished with five blocks. Sam Epenesa had seven kills in her last match. Ashley Evans played a great match finishing with 39 assists, 12 digs, four kills, and three blocks. Lydia Dimke served up two aces. In a limited role Freshman Alexa Smith was solid for Purdue passing the ball well and playing with composure when she played in the front row in the third and fourth sets. She had two kills and no errors on seven attempts, an ace, a block, and five digs. Amanda Neill ended her college career with an 18 dig effort.

Purdue graduates five seniors Annie Drews, Sam Epenesa, Kaisley Fisher, Amanda Neill, and Kate Workman.

In some ways this match was frustrating, not the effort from the girls, it was frustrating that this was a second round match-up. Going four sets with Texas on their home floor (Texas did not maximize their home court advantage as it was not a packed house) justifies our AVCA ranking, 17.  And this goes to show how inaccurate RPI rankings can be; this was a 1 vs. 35 match-up RPI wise, 3 vs. 30 in tournament rankings, and 3 vs. 17 in AVCA rankings . This match-up should not have happened in the second round.

In 2010 when we hosted the first and second round and lost to Texas in the Elite Eight we were not ranked in the AVCA polls til the last week of the regular season (I could not  find RPI data to compare against). We beat #4 Penn State that season and finished fourth in the B1G with a 21-10 record. This season we were ranked the whole year, beat #3 Minnesota, had a 22-9 regular season record, and finished 5th in the B1G. Yet, we got sent out to Texas, and like last time we did not get the desired result.