Until Saturdays match with Wyoming Purdue had been largely untested. This weekend though they’ll face their biggest challenge of the season squaring off against No. 9 Creighton and No. 7 Kansas all in the same day.
Purdue’s five set win over Wyoming was their first win that wasn’t a sweep. This was expected though as Purdue has not played any formidable opponents until they faced the Cowgirls. Purdue got down 2-1 before storming back to win.
Kansas Invitational Preview
This weekend could be a good predictor of how much success the team will have this season in the conference and in postseason play. After taking on Creighton and Kansas Purdue will face Belmont
Purdue kicks things off against No. 9 Creighton at 11:00 ET. Later that evening at 8:00 they’ll play No. 7 Kansas; the match will air on ESPN3. Saturday Purdue will face Belmont at 1:00.
The difference a year makes, most of Purdue’s roster is the same as last year, yet the pieces are working together much better. Currently, Purdue boasts the second most efficient offense in the country, hitting .385 as a team producing thirteenth best 14.85 kills per set. Another area Purdue has shown improvement thus far is serving, averaging 1.7 a set, nearly double last season’s average.
Danielle Cuttino has shown she’ll get her kills night in and night out, several of her teammates have stepped up though to carry more of the offensive workload. Sherridan Atkinson and Blake Mohler are both averaging a kill more than last season and Azariah Stahl has found some consistency buoying her hitting efficiency. None of this would happen though without improved ball control which has allowed Purdue to stay in system more often.
class, height, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally)
Positions: MB- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, RS- right side hitter, DS- defensive specialist, L- libero, S- setter
Stats: K/S- kills/set, B/S- blocks/set, D/S- digs/set. .000- hitting percentage, A/S- assists/set SA/S- service aces/set
Jr. 5’9 L 3 Brooke Peters- 3.05 D/S
Sr. 6’1 S 5 Ashley Evans- 11.6 A/S (18), 0.45 SA/S
So. 6’2 MB 9 Shavona Cuttino- .448, 1.12 B/S
Sr. 6’0 OH 10 Azariah Stahl- 2.25 K/S, .252, 2.8 D/S, 0.3 SA/S
Jr. 6’5 OH 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 3.47 K/S, .358, 0.95 B/S, 0.32 SA/S
So. 6’2 M 17 Blake Mohler- 2.4 K/S, .506 (6), 0.7 B/S
Fr. 5’10 DS 19 Jena Otec- 0.25 SA/S
Sr. 6’4 OH 20 Danielle Cuttino- 4.1 K/S, .392, 0.6 B/S
The Bluejays have established themselves as a top mid-major program after advancing to the Elite Eight last season in a run that included a five set win over No. 4, host, Kansas. All but one starter is back from last season including one player who will be very familiar to Purdue fans. Purdue transfer, Lydia Dimke, is the starting setter for Creighton. Last season she was the Big East Player of Year as Creighton went 29-7, 18-0 in conference play. They bring a 5-1 record into this weekend after having already played a fairly tough schedule. So far they’ve beaten No. 3 Washington, No. 13 Kentucky, and a Northern Iowa squad that has been receiving votes in recent polls. Their lone loss was to No.18 USC.
Interestingly, Creighton, on average, has been outperformed by their opponents in a lot of key statistical categories- kills, assists, digs. Despite this they’ve found ways to win by outlasting their opponents and committing less errors. The Bluejay offense is fairly balanced aside from one middle blocker; Dimke though covers the difference by being aggressive and calling her own number. Defensively Creighton is a solid blocking team and they pass well.
Sr. 6’3 S 1 Lydia Dimke- 10.63 A/S, 0.95 B/S, 2.37 D/S, 0.63 SA/S (17)
So. 5’8 L 2 Brittany Witt- 3.53 D/S, 0.37 SA/S
Jr. 6’3 OH 5 Jaali Winters- 3.42 K/S, 2.42 D/S
Jr. 5’6 DS 8 Samantha Bohnet- 2.47 D/S
Sr. 6’0 MB/RS 9 Marysa Wilkinson- 3.0 K/S, .393, 1.16 B/S
Sr. 5’9 DS/S 10 Kenzie Crawford- 2.32 D/S
Jr. 6’4 OH 12 Taryn Kloth- 3.05 K/S, .266, 0.26 SA/S
So. 6’1 MB/RS 19 Megan Ballenger- 2.26 K/S, .292, 0.89 B/S
Fr. 6’4 MB 21 Naomi Hickman- 0.84 B/S
Kansas’ senior laden team is looking for a little redemption from last season this weekend. They can avenge a loss to Creighton and a loss to Purdue; Purdue bested No. 4 Kansas last season at home in the Boiler Box. Wins over Creighton and Purdue could also help keep Kansas at home during the postseason til the National Championship in nearby Kansas City. Kansas has helped their cause by beating No. 13 Kentucky.
The Jayhawks return all their starters except their libero. First team All-American Kelsie Payne leads Kansas from the right pin and she’s complemented nicely by Madison Rigdon on the left pin. The duo lead the nation’s top offense putting away 15.69 kills per set while hitting a respectable .281, eighteenth best, as a team. Purdue will have to pick their poison; they can’t just let both Payne and Rigdon run roughshod over them while they try to neutralize their supporting cast.
So. 5’6 L 1 Allie Nelson- 4.35 D/S
Sr. 5’8 DS 2 Tori Miller- 2.0 D/S
So. 6’1 OH 4 Jada Burse- 2.74 K/S
So. 5’11 MB 6 Zoe Hill- .313, 1.32 B/S
Sr. 6’3 RS 8 Kelsie Payne- 4.65 K/S (16), .373, 2.08 D/S, 0.77 B/S
Sr. 6’4 MB 10 Taylor Alexander- .250, 1.05 B/S
Sr. 5’10 S 11 Ainise Havili- 12.46 A/S (7), 3.77 D/S
Sr. 6’0 OH 14 Madison Rigdon- 4.08 K/S, .262, 2.54 D/S, 0.5 SA/S
The Bruins will be a little out of their league this weekend as they try to keep up a trio of ranked teams. This season Belmont is 5-3, dropping two matches against teams who received votes in the AVCA poll. They return all their starters from last years 16-12 squad. One question mark this season has been the setting position as they’ve gone back and forth between two players. This match will hopefully be a nice end to a successful weekend and Purdue coasts into conference play in two weeks.
Sr. 5’11 OH 1 Jessica Vestal- 2.3 K/S
Sr. 5’10 S 2 Emma Price- 10.32 A/S, 2.68 D/S, 0.38 SA/S
Fr. 6’0 MB/RS 7 Mackenzie Lepage- 0.71 B/S
Fr. 6’1 S 8 Akia Warrior- 8.79 A/S
Sr. 5’8 OH 10 Arianna Person- 3.39 K/S, 2.96 D/S
Sr. 5’8 DS 11 Emily Richards- 2.91 D/S, 0.34 SA/S
Sr. 5’10 MB/RS 12 Brie Lewis- 2.86 K/S, 2.38 D/S, 0.38 SA/S
Jr. 6’2 MB 14 Alexa Nichols- 2.12 K/S, 0.94 B/S
Sr. 5’6 DS 15 Ellie Ivancich- 2.75 D/S, 0.28 SA/S
Penn State knocked off Stanford opening the door for Minnesota to assume the top spot in this week’s rankings.
- Minnesota (29)
- Florida (21)
- Penn State (12)
- Stanford (1)
- Texas (1)
Ranked Big Ten Teams are as follows; #6 Wisconsin, #12 Nebraska, #16 Michigan, #17 Purdue, #21 Michigan State, and #24 Ohio State.
Next week’s rankings will likely look the same at the top, just shaken up. Florida has the most to gain this weekend and are the only top five team not playing another top five opponent. They aren’t completely in the clear though as they will face #21 Michigan State. Penn State and Stanford will square off again this time at Illinois in the Big 10-Pac-12 Challenge. The results of the Kansas Invitational could also go a ways to shaking up the rest of the top 10.