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Purdue Volleyball: Rutgers and Penn State Preview

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Purdue’s back half schedule is loaded; half of their remaining matches will be against teams ranked in the Top 10.

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The No. 17 Boilers (17-4, 6-4) are sitting in seventh place at the mid-way point in conference play. It won’t get easier for the Boilers though, over the back half of conference play they’ll face Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois on the road and they’ll host Nebraska, all five of which are ranked in the AVCA Top 10.

Last weekend Purdue took care of business picking up wins over Maryland and Ohio State. Purdue needed four sets to best the Terrapins but were mostly dominant outhitting Maryland .308-.140. Four Boiler hitters reached double-figures led by Sherridan Atkinson’s 16 kills. It was more of the same on Sunday as Purdue swept Ohio State. The Boilers hit .386 on the match including a .625 (16-1-24) effort in the final set. Purdue also controlled the net defensively tallying 14 blocks. Sherridan Atkinson led a balanced attack with 10 kills on 21 swings with no errors. Grace Cleveland was the leading blocker with six, followed by Blake Mohler’s five stuffs and Caitlyn Newton’s four.

This weekend Purdue will face Rutgers Friday at 7:00 followed by Saturday’s match with No. 4 Penn State at 8:00; both matches will be on BTN+.

Purdue has experienced an offensive awakening over the last three matches. After hitting .246 over five sets against Iowa the Boilers had two .300+ efforts last weekend. Key in this resurgence has been the play of Sherridan Atkinson and Caitlyn Newton. Newton has hit .250 or better, as high as .444, since back to back negative hitting performances against Wisconsin and Michigan. Atkinson is back to All-American form after four consecutive sub .200 hitting performances. Over the last three matches, she’s hit .373 and averaged 3.58 kills per set. Purdue will need both of them to continue their great play this weekend against Penn State.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats (statistical rank nationally, in the Big Ten)
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

Rs Fr. 5’10 S 2 Hayley Bush- 10.9 A/S (30, 5)

Sr. 5’9 L 3 Brooke Peters- 4.96 D/S (47, 3), 0.38 SA/S (4)

So. 6’1 OH 4 Caitlyn Newton- 2.49 K/S

So. 5’6 DS 6 Julianna Reisinger- 0.3 SA/S (9)

Fr. 5’7 DS 10 Marissa Hornung- 2.54 D/S

Sr. 6’5 OH/RS 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 3.9 K/S (5), .275, 0.28 SA/S

Jr. 6’2 M 17 Blake Mohler- 2.4 K/S, .358 (10), 1.16 B/S (8)

So. 5’10 DS 19 Jena Otec- 0.26 SA/S (13)

Fr. 6’3 MB/OH 20 Grace Cleveland-2.55 K/S, 0.81 B/S

Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights (6-17, 0-10) are still looking for their first Big Ten win this season. They took a set off Michigan State and forced Ohio State to five sets but they weren’t able to close it out. While their offense is last in the conference they do have a great setter running the show she just doesn’t have good hitters to set.

Key Players

So. 6’1 RS 1 Beka Kojadinovic- 2.34 K/S, 2.16 D/S

Sr. 5’10 OH 3 Sahbria McLetchie- 3.16 K/S (14)

Fr. 6’0 S 10 Inna Balyko- 9.81 A/S (10), 0.82 B/S, 2.25 D/S

Fr. 6’1 MB 11 Merle Weidt- .240, 0.96 B/S

Jr. 5’8 L 15 Karysa Swackenberg- 3.27 D/S (14)

Jr. 6’3 MB 18 Jasmine Stackhouse- .280, 1.1 B/S (10)

Penn State

Penn State (17-3, 8-2) is on a roll winning eight straight including an upset over Nebraska since they opened conference play with two losses. They’ve done it despite it being a revolving door at the second middle blocker spot. Freshman Kaitlyn Hord had the spot coming into Big Ten play but junior Tori Gorrell and freshman Amanda Phegley have all seen action in relief of Hord. All three are competent and Penn State hasn’t missed a beat. What makes this team go is Jonni Parker; when she’s been off they’ve lost. When she tries to do too much, like taking the second ball over or swinging away, she can be error-prone. If Purdue can defend her well and get her off balance they’ll have a chance at pulling off the upset.

Key Players

Jr. 5’5 DS 3 Kendall White*- 4.62 D/S (4)

Sr. 6’1 OH 6 Nia Reed- 3.24 K/S, .268

Fr. 6’1 RS/S 9 Jonni Parker- 2.72 K/S .264, 0.28 SA/S

Fr. 6’2 MB 16 Serena Gray- .326 (12), 1.33 B/S (29, 4)

Sr. 6’0 S 21 Bryanna Weiskircher- 10.57 A/S (6), 2.31 D/S, 0.31 SA/S (12)

Fr. 6’4 MB 23 Kaitlyn Hord- 2.22 K/S, .379 (27, 5), 1.18 B/S (7)

Sr. 6’3 OH 43 Taylor Leath- 2.71 K/S, 2.23 D/S

* White was a standout at Cathedral in Indy, teammate Allyson Cathey is also from Indiana, New Albany.

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings

  1. BYU (58)
  2. Stanford (6)
  3. Minnesota
  4. Penn State
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Illinois
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Texas
  9. Nebraska
  10. Creighton

12. Michigan

17. Purdue

Nebraska has lost four of their last five matches which has dropped them to No. 9. The Pac-12 also has seven teams in the Top 25. Unlike the Big Ten where there is incredible depth at the top in the Pac-12 their depth is in the middle of the conference. After Stanford the next ranked Pac-12 team is No.15 USC. BYU and Pittsburgh are still undefeated.

RPI Standings

  1. Stanford
  2. BYU
  3. Illinois
  4. Texas
  5. Pittsburgh

7. Minnesota

8. Wisconsin

11. Michigan

13. Purdue

14. Penn State

15. Nebraska

45. Ohio State

46. Iowa

58. Northwestern

60. Indiana

67. Maryland

77. Michigan State

192. Rutgers