Boilers open non-conference and conference play at home this season as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament with the help of their strong freshman class.
Purdue’s first eight matches will be at home over the first three weeks of the season. To kick off the season Purdue will host Wofford, Bowling Green, and Tulsa in the Boilermaker Invitational on August 24-25. The following weekend, September 1-2, Oakland and Notre Dame will come to town. The homestand will be capped off with matches against Xavier, Lipscomb, and Louisville on September 7-8.
Purdue will finish non-conference play down south in Tuscaloosa. It’ll be a southern homecoming for redshirt junior and Ocean Springs, Mississippi native, Blake Mohler. The Boilers will play Southern Miss, host Alabama, and South Alabama over the weekend.
Purdue’s non-conference slate is pretty easy. This could be a good way to ease newcomers into the college game; this year’s roster features five upperclassmen and eleven underclassmen. If Purdue slips up it could be costly as there are really only two opportunities for quality wins.
Notre Dame and Louisville will provide the stiffest challenge for the Boilers. Both squads were in last year’s NCAA Tournament and are bringing in respectable recruiting classes to counter the losses from graduation.
In conference play, Purdue will play home and away against Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, and Indiana. They’ll also host Northwestern, Ohio State, and reigning National Champion Nebraska and hit the road to face Michigan, Rutgers, and Minnesota.
Matches with Illinois bookend Purdue’s conference schedule, home then away. The way their schedule is set up Purdue will not play more than two consecutive games on the road or at home; their final home match will be against Iowa, November 17.
The toughest stretch for Purdue will come in back half of conference play as they’ll face Wisconsin and Minnesota on November 9th and 10th respectively on the road then come home to face Nebraska on the 16th.
If you are going to be in town for any football games this fall, five weekends will feature volleyball matches and football games. There usually is a pretty good ticket deal for the volleyball game if you have a ticket to the football game.
On September 8th Volleyball hosts Louisville at 7:30 and Football will take on Eastern Michigan TBA
September 22 VB- Northwestern 7:00, FB- Boston College TBA
October 20 VB- Ohio State 7:00, FB- Ohio State TBA
November 3 VB- IU 7:00, FB- Iowa TBA
November 17 VB- Iowa 7:00, FB- Wisconsin TBA* also Football’s Senior Day
This year, perhaps even more than previous years, Purdue is playing an uninspiring preseason. It’s great that Shondell gives the out of state players a homecoming trip but it can really affect scheduling as it has this year. There aren’t many strong programs in Alabama and Mississippi so Purdue is going to play some low RPI teams on that trip.
Other years what looks like a tough schedule never materializes but that is not the case with this year’s schedule. None of these teams are volleyball powers or about to break through. Notre Dame and Louisville are trending in the right direction but they won’t start or likely finish the season ranked.
Purdue has been helped and hurt by their non-conference slate in recent years. In 2016, Purdue went 8-12 in conference and made the tournament in part because of a tough non-conference lineup. Purdue went 10-1 in non-conference play beating eventual National Champion Stanford and then No. 4 Kansas; Purdue’s only loss was to then No. 24 Kentucky. Purdue missed the tournament in the 2014 campaign after going 12-8 in conference play. The Boilers had a soft preseason schedule and dropped matches against a respectable Western Kentucky team on the road and at home against a middling Saint Louis squad who also didn’t make the tournament. Purdue’s signature preseason win that year was against then No. 14 San Diego.
The Big Ten is tough so Purdue will still face a fair share of national title contenders this season because the conference is arguably the best in the nation, but Purdue’s resume come selection time will likely be lacking. Purdue misses out on hosting because of this. Finishing in the top four in the Big Ten is not enough to even get a top sixteen seed. Schools need to have played a respectable non-conference slate. Michigan State last season finished 4th in the Big Ten, 14-6, but they went 7-2 in preseason losing to Notre Dame and Georgia Tech so they had to go on the road for the tournament.
Recruiting Class Rankings
PrepVolleyball.com released their recruiting class rankings recently and Purdue came in at 13. Penn State boasted the number one class, followed by Florida, Washington, Oregon, and Nebraska. All but one Big Ten school, Rutgers, received some sort of honor; 12- Michigan, 14- Minnesota, 15- Michigan State, 18- Northwestern, highest honorable mention- Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, and high honorable mention- Maryland, Wisconsin, and Ohio State.
A handful of Purdue’s non-conference opponents also signed top classes; 17- Notre Dame, high honorable mention- Louisville, Wofford, Lipscomb, and Alabama.