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Purdue Volleyball: Northwestern and Illinois Preview

Boilers head to Illinois in search of two conference wins

Purdue Volleyball

Last weekend Purdue (12-7, 2-6) picked up their second conference win of the season against Rutgers. On the previous night the Boilermakers got swept by a seemingly unstoppable Penn State squad who hasn’t lost since the second week of the season. Passing issues persist for the Boilers as they face an uphill battle to get back to .500 in conference play.

Purdue opens the weekend in Evanston against Northwestern (7-13, 0-8) Friday night at 8:00 ET. Saturday night at 8:00 ET the Boilers will look to avenge an earlier five-set loss at home to Illinois (13-6, 6-2) in Champaign.

Key Players

class, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally, in the conference)
Postions: M- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, Opp- opposite hitter, DS- defensive specialist, L- libero, S- setter
Stats: K/S- kills/set, .000- hitting percentage, B/S- blocks/set, D/S- digs/set, A/S- assists/set, SA/S- service aces/set
So. DS 3 Brooke Peters- 2.21 D/S

Jr. S 5 Ashley Evans- 10.83 A/S (27, 5), 2.15 D/S, 0.28 SA/S (15)

Fr. L 7 Natalie Haben- 3.11 D/S (12), 0.25 SA/S

Jr. OH 10 Azariah Stahl- 2.99 K/S, 2.14 D/

Sr. M 13 Faye Adelaja- 2.27 K/S, .409(16, 3), 0.71 B/S

So. Opp 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 0.62 B/S

Rs Fr. M 17 Blake Mohler- .304, 1.06 B/S

Jr. OH 20 Danielle Cuttino- 3.94 K/S (5), .286

Sherridan Atkinson has made nice progress throughout the season and has been playing even better in conference play. In conference play Atkinson is averaging nearly two kills a set and is hitting just over .300. Unfortunately Azariah Stahl’s struggles have not ended as she is only hitting .115 in conference matches. Some of these issues can be alleviated though with a good pass which has not come easy for Purdue. Natalie Haben returned to action last weekend, but only played three rotations instead of returning to her libero spot. Brooke Peters played libero and was inconsistent. She used her hands to pass a free ball and overpassed it leading to a kill for Rutgers. Peters also had issues taking the second ball sending it out past the pins creating a difficult third contact for the hitters. These are things she can fix and Purdue will need her this weekend to anchor the back row. Any easy points Purdue can get are precious, lately Shondell has had Ashley Evans do a top-spin serve which has lead to an increase in aces and also keeps teams from running their offense.

Northwestern Preview

While Purdue was searching for their second conference win the Wildcats are still looking to pick up their first conference win; Northwestern has only won one set in conference play. The Wildcats have an outstanding outside hitter in Symone Abbott, but there is essentially no supporting cast, offensively, as only one other hitter averages more than two kills per set. Regardless of whether Purdue is able to slow down Abbott Purdue should get the sweep.

Key Players

Jr. S 1 Taylor Tashima- 8.43 A/S (13), 2.1 D/S

Jr. OH 2 Symone Abbott- 4.03 K/S (46, 3)

So. L 7 Katie Kniep- 3.61 D/S

Jr. MB 8 Gabrielle Hazen*- 2.06 K/S, .250, 0.69 B/S

Sr. OH 10 Rafae Strobos- 2.33 D/S

Sr. MB 11 Maddie Slater- .310, 1.01 B/S

Sr. OH 16 Sofia Lavin- 0.30 SA/S

Rs Fr. DS 17 Kaitlin Tavarez- 2.09 D/S

* Hazen is a native of Columbia City, IN

Illinois Preview

First match of conference play, then #10 Purdue hosted Illinois, who was just outside the top 25 rankings; Purdue lost in five sets. This time it will be #24 Purdue looking for the road upset over #22 Illinois. Illinois and Purdue are similar in that they rely heavily on their pin hitters. Illinois has an advantage however in the middle as they have the nation’s best blocker in Ali Bastianelli. Additionally all Illini front court players, including their setter are 6’1 or taller. This height has helped them dominate along the net averaging 2.94 blocks/set, best in the conference and eighth in the nation. Another similarity between Purdue and Illinois is that neither team serves or serve receives particularly well. This bodes well for Purdue, as they hold a slight advantage only surrendering 0.97 aces each set to their opponents while Illinois averages 1.1 aces by their opponent per set.

I expect this match to go extra sets like the first go around. Stahl and Cuttino both had double-digit kill efforts in the first match-up, however they also had double-digit hitting errors. In part due to 14 Illinois blocks. Purdue will need to keep the ball in play. Illinois will get their blocks but we need to be smart and not give away points. Two wins this weekend could go a long way to turning things around for Purdue.

Key Players

So. S 1 Jordyn Poulter- 10.52 A/S (8), .94 B/S

Jr. L 3 Brandi Donnelly- 4.48 D/S (2)

Sr. OH 4 Michelle Strizak- 2.77 K/S

So. MB 5 Ali Bastianelli- .353, 1.84 B/S (1)

Fr. OH 7 Jacqueline Quade*- 3.06 K/S (15)

Sr. Opp 9 Naya Crittenden- 2.37 K/S, .79 B/S

Sr. MB 12 Katie Stadick- 2.08 K/S, .336, .89 B/S

* Quade is a Fort Wayne native, went to Carroll

B1G Standings

RPI Rankings

Top 5

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Texas
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota
  5. North Carolina

Big Ten teams in the top 40

9. Michigan State

10. Michigan

12. Purdue

19. Penn State

29. Ohio State

AVCA Rankings

#3 Minnesota’s win over #1 Wisconsin guaranteed a new #1 this week. Minnesota lost their claim to it when they lost to #14 Michigan State. So instead Nebraska moved into #1 as they avenged their loss to Ohio State. Texas this week broke up the Big Ten’s stranglehold on the top three.

Top 5

  1. Nebraska
  2. Texas
  3. Minnesota
  4. Wisconsin
  5. San Diego

Big Ten Teams

9. Penn State

11. Michigan State

T-16. Michigan

19. Ohio State

22. Illinois

24. Purdue