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No. 16 Boilers Drop Their First Match of the Season to No. 8 Illinois

Purdue struggled with ball control all night long and had untimely errors as twice the Boilers led the lead slip away late, losing in four sets.

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Illinois (12-0, 1-0) won the serve-pass battle and ultimately the match as they aced the Boilers 12 times, winning 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24. Purdue (11-1, 0-1) also struggled to get any offense from anyone besides Sherridan Atkinson and Blake Mohler.

Atkinson posted 21 kills, nine digs, and six blocks while hitting .333. Mohler hit. 400 putting away 11 kills and eight blocks. Julianna Reisinger served two aces.

Caitlyn Newton led the remaining hitters with nine kills however none of them hit over .150.

While Brooke Peters had a match high 21 digs, the Purdue libero also led all players with five service reception errors. Illinois was at times serving her intentionally which is usually not the case for a libero.

Purdue outhit Illinois .221-.210 due largely to set two when the Boilers hit .395 otherwise they never hit over .200 in any other set. Purdue also bested the Illini in the block category 12-7.

An early five point run gave Purdue some breathing room, 13-7, in early in the fourth as the Boilers were looking to extend the match. Illinois, like they had in set three, made a late charge. A five point run aided by two hitting errors and ace off the tape of the net drew the Illini even at 20. Out of the Purdue timeout Illinois’ serve sailed long ending the run. Illinois got a kill but Purdue was able to answer with back-to-back kills from freshman Grace Cleveland. On the ensuing point Illinois won a long rally extended by pancake dig by libero Morgan O’Brien which replayed deemed inconclusive. The Illini then got a kill by Quade and block on Cleveland on the first ball to get them to match point. Purdue in return got a big block from Atkinson and Mohler on Quade to extend the match. Ali Bastianelli capped off a long rally to give Illinois another match point. Purdue setter Hayley Bush was aggressive sending over a dump on the next point, but Illinois dug it and Beth Prince crushed the ball down the line which the line judge called out. Illinois Coach Chris Tamas immediately challenged the play, which replay revealed it did catch the line ending the match 26-24.

Purdue played Illinois close through the middle of the first set then was undone by errors in serve receive. The Illini broke a 15-all tie with a kill from Jacqueline Quade who, after a Blake Mohler hitting error, served up two aces to put the Illinois in front 19-15. Purdue was never able to recover surrendering another ace before the set was over 25-19.

Purdue raced out to a 7-2 lead in set two then hung on as they won 25-23. Atkinson and Mohler were hot from start scoring all of Purdue’s first seven points; three kills from each of them and a solo stuff by Mohler. Illinois didn’t go away though and eventually tied the set 18. Purdue was able to answer with a kills from Shavona Cuttino, Atkinson and Caitlyn Newton. Purdue needed three set points as Illinois closed the margin to one before Atkinson put away a first ball kill to clinch the set.

Purdue’s late comeback was almost successful in set three. After getting down 20-14, Purdue stormed back to go in front 22-21. With Jena Otec back at the service line Purdue was able to take advantage of poor ball control by the Illini. It also helped that Blake Mohler was on another level putting away three kills and combining with Hayley Bush for block to start the run. Bush followed it up with a free ball dump. Purdue also benefited from a Illinois service and hitting error before Julianna Reisinger capped the run off with an ace. Beth Prince was the hero for the Illini as Purdue got stuck in their worst rotation and Prince put away three kills to give Illinois set point. Sherridan Atkinson stopped the bleeding with a kill out of the back row but Prince got one last kill to seal the deal for the Illini.

The Boilers will be back in Holloway Saturday night versus Northwestern at 7:00 P.M.