VB Takes 11th Straight from Indiana, Moves to 13-2
In a number of sports, the Purdue-Indiana rivalry is fairly well balanced; each team has its streaks, but the overall series, or at least the relatively recent part of the series, is close enough that each meeting is a chance to drag out the cliche book and throw away the records.
Volleyball is not one of those sports. Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan moved into second place among Indiana coaches with her 159th win earlier this season; she's all but assured of passing Katie Weismiller, her predecessor in Bloomington, as the IU athletic department has shown patience during the down years and appreciation during the better ones, like 2010, when Indiana made its lone Sweet Sixteen appearance, upsetting 11-seed Tennessee in Bloomington before falling to 6-seed USC in the regional semis. (Boiler fans will remember that tournament as the year Jaclyn Hart's leg injury likely prevented 16-seed Purdue from reaching its first Final Four in program history; the Good Gals swept 1-seed Florida in the regional semis but fell 1-3 to 9-seed Texas in Austin in the regional finals.)
Dunbar-Kruzan's first match against Purdue was a 1-3 victory in Bloomington in 2007; the Hoosiers also beat Purdue 2-3 in West Lafayette in 2009 and 1-3 in Bloomington in 2012. That's it. That gave IU's current coach a 3-17 record heading into Wednesday's match in Holloway ... but the Boilers also won the previous eight meetings between the schools, which coincided with Dave Shondell's tenure as the head coach. While the results have occasionally been close, even that hasn't been common: Indiana has forced a fifth set just five times in those 25 losses and just once during the current streak (last year in Bloomington).
Last week's matches were no different, as Purdue cruised to easy 3-0 sweeps in both matches, winning the Monon Spike Saturday for the 11th consecutive time. (The last I on the Spike came from that 1-3 match in 2007, which was also the last year the NCAA played matches to 30.) As I noted after Wednesday's match, there are only four winning or unbeaten streaks in any match sport in Purdue history that are longer than 11 (24 in volleyball, 1978-85; 18 in women's basketball, 1988-96; 15 in soccer, 2000-00; 14 in football, 1948-61). Shondell moves to 27-3 against Indiana in his career; a .900 winning percentage against your rival is pretty good.
The Boilers didn't move much in either system, rising one place to #18 in the AVCA poll and one spot in Massey's ratings to #22.
#23 Purdue 3, #87 Indiana 0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-15)
Everything went as planned in the Holloway match, as Purdue never trailed and was only tied once in the match. Starters were the usual crew (Evans-Cuttino-Stahl-Damler-Mohler-Cuttino, Peters at libero), with Caitlyn Newton and Erin Williams getting playing time. Lexi Dorn was on the bench in a boot, but no word on what happened or how long she'll be out. (Hopefully not too long, since the idea is to redshirt Hayley Bush so that she'll have two years left after Dorn graduates, but if anything happens to Evans, there won't be a choice.)
Kills: Purdue 45 (Danielle Cuttino 14/.520), Indiana 30 (Kendall Beerman 8/.238)
Assists: Purdue 41 (Evans 38), Indiana 29 (Victoria Brisack 15)
Aces: Purdue 8/+2 (Otec 3/+2), Indiana 2/-5 (Brisack 1/-2, Nitzan Lasry 1/-2)
Digs: Purdue 33 (Peters 13), Indiana 27 (Beerman 9)
Solo blocks: Purdue 2 (Danielle Cuttino 2), Indiana 0
Total blocks: Purdue 10.0 (Danielle Cuttino 3.5), Indiana 2.0 (Hayden Huybers 1.0)
#23 Purdue 3, #87 Indiana 0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-19)
The Hoosiers were a much more spirited opponent in front of their home crowd, putting up a solid fight in set one and keeping set three mostly close, but the end result was the same. With five lead changes (oddly, one was in the 25-13 second set) and 20 ties, this one deserves a first-set recap.
The teams played the opening minutes evenly, with neither side taking more than a one-point lead until an Elizabeth Asdell attack error put Purdue up 10-8. They would open up a 14-11 lead, forcing an IU timeout, and pushed it to 15-11 before Indiana ran off five straight points and burned a Purdue timeout to make it 15-16. The teams traded points again through 18-19, when a Deyshia Lofton kill put the Hoosiers ahead 18-20 and got Shondell to use his second timeout. The Boilers responded, scoring three straight to get the remaining IU timeout off the board; a Beerman kill knotted the score at 21, but consecutive kills by Danielle Cuttino and Sherridan Atkinson made it 23-21 Purdue. Another Beerman kill and a Stahl attack error tied it again, but Atkinson gave the Good Gals set point with another kill, and a Huybers attack error cashed it in, 25-23.
Kills: Purdue 41 (Danielle Cuttino 14/.464), Indiana 32 (Beerman 10/.226)
Assists: Purdue 38 (Evans 34), Indiana 30 (Brisack 27)
Aces: Purdue 3/-4 (Stahl 2/+1), Indiana 5/-3 (Beerman 2/-1, Bayli Lebo 2/+1)
Digs: Purdue 38 (Peters 12), Indiana 28 (Brisack 7)
Solo blocks: Purdue 2 (Mohler 1, Stahl 1), Indiana 1 (Huybers)
Total blocks: Purdue 8.0 (Mohler 3.5), Indiana 1.0 (Huybers 1.0)
It was good to see Purdue take care of business after a poor showing against Ohio State at home. Part of putting yourself in position to win in December is taking care of business against weaker opponents, and despite their 11-3 record coming into Wednesday's match, Indiana is definitely weaker.
The other part is getting wins against quality opposition, and the Boilers will have ample opportunity to do that with the rest of their schedule. There is still a home-and-home with (sigh) Rutgers, but aside from that and maybe the match at Maryland, the rest of the conference schedule will be a grind. If the Good Gals manage a 20-win season, they'll definitely have earned it.
Side note: here's a pretty cool thing that the team did during Homecoming Week. It's worth a look.
Blake Mohler posted the fourth-best single-match hitting percentage in school history Wednesday, hitting 10-0-12 for an amazing .833. (Two Boilers, Debbie McDonald in 1987 and Kristen Arthurs in 2009, have hit 1.000; Tiffany Fisher hit .875 in 2011.)
The Boilers hold top-20 marks in three categories: assists per set (13.48, 14th), hitting percentage (.351, 2nd) and kills per set (14.64, 8th). Ashley Evans is 13th nationally with 11.54 assists per set; Danielle Cuttino has three top-50 marks, with 4.24 kills per set (33rd), a .392 hitting percentage (35th), and 4.64 points per set (39th). Mohler also has a top-100 attack percentage (.367, 66th), and Sherridan Atkinson isn't far outside that group (.338, 125th and 4.03 points per set, 125th). Shavona Cuttino rounds out the leaderboard with 1.00 blocks per set, 204th nationally.
Penn State returned to form with home sweeps of Illinois and Northwestern; Minnesota was swept at Nebraska but turned it around at Iowa 3-0; Nebraska added a 3-2 home win against Wisconsin to move to 4-0; Wisconsin also swept Iowa 3-0 in Iowa City; Michigan State swept Maryland and Ohio State at home to join Nebraska at 4-0.
At the other end of the conference, Rutgers fell to 0-4. Massey has them as an overwhelming favorite to finish conference play winless, with only matches at Indiana (2%) and Northwestern (1%) giving them any hope of a win, no matter how remote. Thanks, Delany.
Purdue is tied for third in record with Penn State and Illinois, but sixth in Massey's rating, one spot ahead of Illinois and two ahead of Michigan (who beat Ohio State and Maryland 3-1 last week).
Matches two and three in a four-match road swing are Friday and Sunday, with the Boilers completing a traditional swing through Illinois. The Friday match in Champaign is a tossup - 2-3 to the Illini since they're at home - and the Sunday match in Evanston is a 3-1 Boiler prediction, which means "take care of business."