Purdue looked progressively better each set but folded late in the third set when they could’ve extended the match.
Purdue got off to a good start in the third set. A run early put them in front 6-2. Azariah Stahl and Blake Mohler each tallied a kill then combined for a block and Mohler capped the run with a solo stuff. Purdue kept pushing, getting sideouts each time Minnesota went back to serve as they stretched their lead to seven, 11-4. Minnesota though put together a four point run using Stephanie Samedy out of the backrow confusing the Purdue blockers. The Gophers kept rolling tying the set at 14 after denying Mohler on the slide attack. Purdue put together a mini run in response going up three, the last point was a beautiful dump by Ashley Evans into the deep corner in transition. The Boilermaker lead grew to four, 21-17, before Purdue collapsed. A five point Minnesota run swung the lead to the Gophers as Purdue committed three errors; two hitting errors by D.Cuttino and a double contact by Evans in the midst of the long rally. What made the errors even more frustrating was that for much of the run Minnesota’s setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson was not on the floor for Minnesota so they weren’t even running their fast offense. Purdue got an extra life when Dalianliz Rosado’s serve sailed long tying the set at 22. Minnesota though got back-to-back kills from Alexis Hart to bring them to match point. D.Cuttino put one away for Purdue but Stephanie Samedy shut the door on the next point slamming one line past a single blocker clinching the set and match for Minnesota, 25-23.
Purdue was terrible from the start in the first set. Right off the bat Purdue hit two balls out of bounds and got aced. From there Minnesota just gradually grew their lead as their offense got into a rhythm and Purdue continued to give them free points; four more hitting errors, three missed serves, a ball handling error, and a net violation. The nail in the coffin though was when a free ball dropped between Azariah Stahl and Carissa Damler. The Gophers held eight point leads multiple times, which was the final margin, 25-17. Minnesota hit .406 during the set; their only hitting error was a block.
In the second set Purdue stayed close with the Gophers but fell off late, losing 25-21. The lead changed hands three times in the early going. The last time swinging back to Minnesota after Sherridan Atkinson hit into the block putting the Gophers in front 7-6. Purdue had a chance to tie the set near the midpoint. Down 15-12, Purdue got a 1st ball kill from Atkinson coming out of the media timeout. Purdue dodged a bullet on the next point when Regan Pittman hit it into the net with no blockers up. Alas Purdue couldn’t get out of their own way as Brooke Peter’s serve sailed long on the next point. From there on all but two times when Purdue when back to serve they committed an error, either on the serve, in transition hitting, or a net violation. On the last point Purdue dug Minnesota’s overpass kill attempt but were forced to send over a free ball which the Gophers put away. Purdue made nice plays to sideout on Minnesota’s serve but could not put two points together. Specifically they couldn’t put together three good contacts; If it was a good pass the set was a little off, but if the set was there the hitter made an error.
D.Cuttino and Stahl were Purdue’s offensive leaders. D.Cuttino put away 15 kills. Stahl had 13 kills and hit .333. Evans had a double-double with 41 assists and 10 digs. Peters was the match dig leader with 17. Jena Otec pulled up nine digs to go with two aces. Purdue hit .224 as a team and tallied five blocks. Minnesota hit .298 to go with three blocks.
Purdue had a decent opportunity to come away with a win but undermined their chance with all their, essentially, unforced errors. Minnesota played well but they weren’t particularly challenged because we gave them so many points. Both teams scored 52 points last night; we gave them 23 points, practically a set’s worth of points.
Atkinson just looked bad last night. She finished with five kills and five errors. D.Cuttino had more errors, seven, but she was still able to put the ball away. Atkinson was slow in transition and just didn’t get herself in position to make good plays. Her and D.Cuttino though have to keep more balls in play; aim high for hands to tool the block or take a little off so the ball stays in play. They weren’t the only ones who struggled last night though. Evans looked shaky at times, two ball handling errors, and otherwise struggled putting the ball in the right spot as sets went wide or too tight.
Hopefully Purdue got the errors out of their system so they play clean Saturday against Nebraska.
Reminder the match will be in Mackey at 7:00 ET and tickets start at $2; it will not be televised.