VB Tied for Fifth In Conference After Split
The first Delanyed bit of the schedule came and went last week, with the Good Gals heading off to play Maryland on Wednesday before returning home to play Wisconsin on Saturday. Why did they not play at Maryland and Rutgers, the two farthest-east conference teams, leaving the Penn State road trip for this kind of weekend? The difference between the two trips is about 80 minutes, which doesn’t sound like much unless you’ve already been on a bus for nearly a 9-hour journey. (Of course we all know the answer: the Big Tenteen is run by blithering fools whose sole job is to grab as much money as possible before the TV merry-go-round stops spinning.)
Anyway, the weekend went about as expected: Maryland played tough but fell in four sets, while the Boilers played Wisconsin close and nearly forced a fourth.
No changes. Good news: everyone is healthy. Bad news: not much opportunity to get the youngsters in, as you’ll see shortly.
#19 Purdue 3, #82 Maryland 1 (15-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-21)
So that happened: a first set that was not the best effort the Boilers have put forth, followed by three sets that were fortunate ones for Purdue to win. I was at Lucas Oil watching the Eleven and watched the stat tracker instead of BTN+, but I’ll guess they were as harrowing to watch live as they were just following the PBP.
Maryland let the Boilers lead 1-0 and 2-1, but an 0-4 run erased Purdue’s last advantage, not that we’d know at the time. The Good Gals played it close, keeping the lead at or under 3 and even drawing within 1 at 11-12 on what would be their second and last point on their own serve, but a 1-5 Maryland run made it 12-17 and burned a Boiler timeout. From there, the Terrapins simply got side outs they needed and added points on their serve here and there, getting an 0-3 run for 14-21, and after a Purdue timeout and a Samantha Snyder service error, another 0-4 run to close out the set, with an Erika Pritchard ace making it 15-25 Maryland. The Boilers would not struggle like this again, but the second set wouldn’t be a mirror of the first.
At first, it did look like Purdue might run away with set two, getting four straight to lead 5-1, but Maryland erased that lead with a 1-5 run of their own. The teams would virtually trade points through 11-10, when a 7-1 run burned both Maryland timeouts, the second following back-to-back bad-set calls on Nicole Alford. A Liz Twilley kill stopped the run, but a Sherridan Atkinson kill and a Jena Otec ace made it 20-12, and with no timeouts left, the home team looked to be in a bind. Two kills from Pritchard cut the lead to six, and after trading points through 22-15, Maryland rattled off five straight to draw a Purdue timeout, and suddenly that safe eight-point lead was down to two. Fortunately for those of us following along at home, that’s as close as they’d get, as Atkinson made it 23-20; a Pritchard kill would be Maryland’s final point, with Atkinson and Shavona Cuttino blocking Twilley and Blake Mohler putting down set point. The Boilers headed to the locker room even at 1-1 but behind in total points; they’d eventually tie Maryland in the latter, but the important stat is the former, and it turned out they’d be just fine in that one.
Purdue grabbed the opening point in set three as well, inching out to 3-1 and 5-2 leads before widening it to 8-3. Maryland got the lead down to three on multiple occasions, settling at 12-9, before a 3-0 Purdue run capped by a Brooke Peters ace drew a Maryland timeout. It must have been one heck of a huddle, because the teams split the next two points, and then the Terrapins scored seven in a row, with three kills from Katie Myers providing nearly half of the run. A Purdue timeout at 16-13 didn’t help; finally, at 16-17, a Mohler kill got the Boilers back on the board. Maryland would get back-to-back Pritchard kills to lead 18-20, but Caitlyn Newton made it 19-20 with a kill of her own and tied it with a solo block of Rainelle Jones. Pritchard and Emma Schriner combined to block Atkinson, but she’d respond with a kill/solo combo of her own, stuffing Schriner to put the Good Gals up 22-21, and another bad set by Alford made it 23-21 and got Maryland’s other timeout. They would draw within one twice more, but no closer, and Atkinson put away set point #1 to give the Boilers the lead in the match.
Maryland finally got the first point in set four; Purdue still took an early lead, using a 5-1 run to flip an 0-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead. The Terrapins would be the next team to score on their serve, with a Jones solo block of Atkinson tying it at 8-8, part of a 1-5 run that put Maryland up 10-13 and drew a Boiler timeout. The Good Gals answered with a 4-1 run to tie at 14; Maryland got the next two points, but a 3-1 run canceled that. The hosts then got two more, and at 17-19, Dave Shondell took his other timeout; again, Purdue responded, with another 3-1 run tying it at 20 and drawing Maryland’s first timeout. This time, it wouldn’t be quite as close, as Schriner gave the Terrapins a 20-21 lead, but they would not score again, as a timeout at 23-21 did not stop the Old Gold and Black tide that swept through the remainder of the match, with Mohler providing the final point for a 25-21 set and a 3-1 victory.
Maryland was unlucky to take just one set from Purdue, and the box score bore that out, with virtually every category even or close to it. The Terrapins actually outhit Purdue, .212 to .204, and topped them in kills (53-50), assists (50-49), and digs (61-57), while Purdue led in blocks (12-10). The Boilers recorded 5 aces to Maryland’s 2, but with the Good Gals just -7/-.079 from the service line and Maryland -5, neither team really led that category.
For the first time in a long time, the Purdue leader in kills was not Atkinson; Wednesday, it was Grace Cleveland, who had 15 kills at .313, both solid numbers when you look at team totals. Atkinson had just 11 kills and was held to .104, her lowest mark since the Gophers held her to .000 in a three-set sweep at Minnesota last season. Newton also managed 10 kills at .273, while even Mohler was held under her season marks, getting 9 kills but hitting just .222. Hayley Bush had a match-high 43 assists and 8 digs, with Marissa Hornung posting a team-high 16 in the latter and Peters close behind at 12. Newton and Atkinson each posted two solo blocks, with Atkinson leading all players at 3.5 total. Atkinson also had a match-high 3 aces (+1/.040), with Otec (1/-1/-.083) and Peters (1/-3/-.176) each serving an ace but ending up under their season totals. Purdue scored 32 points on their serve, excluding aces, and Atkinson was at the line for 14 of those points, easily the best percentage of the year for her. Scoring on your serve is about more than just the serve itself, but you do need a good serve to get that chance, and Sherridan did a great job of making that happen time and again against the Terrapins.
Maryland’s attack was led by sophomore OH Erika Pritchard, who had a match-high 17 kills at .300; redshirt sophomore MB Katie Myers was the other Terrapin in double figures, posting 11 kills at a match-high .409. Sophomore setter Nicole Alford shook off those bad-set errors to record 38 assists, while Pritchard and junior setter Samantha Snyder each had an ace and a service error. Freshman MB Rainelle Jones had two solo blocks to tie Newton and Atkinson for match honors and led Maryland with 3.0 total. Pritchard had an impressive 17-17 double-double, matching her kills with 17 digs, just one short of freshman libero Allegra Rivas’ match-high 18 digs.
#19 Purdue 0, #7 Wisconsin 3 (23-25, 19-25, 24-26)
With the Badgers coming off an 0-3 loss to Minnesota, the Boilers likely expected the best that Wisconsin had to offer, and early in the first set, that’s exactly what they got: an 0-4 deficit, ballooning to 2-8, and then 3-11 after a Purdue timeout. It was 5-13 before Purdue could record consecutive points, but when they did, it was in a 5-1 run that cut Wisconsin’s lead to 10-14. Naturally, the Badgers ran off six straight points, four of them after Purdue’s other timeout, and at 10-20, the first set looked to be over. The sides would trade points through 13-23, when Purdue finally got another mini-run to make it 16-23. A Tionna Williams kill put Wisconsin at set point … and there they would stay, and stay, and stay, as Purdue saved seven straight set points, burning both of Wisconsin’s timeouts (the PBP says the second was Purdue’s, except a) they already burned both of theirs and b) Shondell would never call a timeout after his player served an ace). Hornung’s ace at 21-24 was her second of the run; unfortunately, they ended up just short, as her service error at 23-24 gave set one to the visitors, but Purdue’s valiant comeback was an impressive effort against a top-ten team.
Set two started out much better for the Good Gals, as they went up 1-0, 2-1 and 6-5 before an 0-4 run gave Wisconsin a decent lead. The Boilers would get two to trail just 8-9, but they just couldn’t get a tying point, with the lead floating between two and three points until a 1-5 run made it 12-18 Wisconsin. Shondell used one timeout there and another at 15-21; Purdue would get to 17-22 and 19-24, holding off two Wisconsin set points, but after a Badger timeout, Madison Duello’s kill made it 19-25 and 0-2 for the visitors.
Set three was a great one, even if it didn’t go the Boilers’ way. Purdue actually led 3-0 on a Dana Rettke attack error and back-to-back aces by Hornung; Wisconsin called a timeout and fought back to tie at 5-5. They’d trade points through 9-9, when Purdue used a 5-1 run to open up a 14-10 lead. The sides traded one- and two-point bursts through 17-13, when two Purdue errors and a Danielle Hart kill cut the lead to one; Shondell used his first timeout, and Purdue went on a 4-1 run to lead 21-17, which drew Wisconsin’s other timeout. Wisconsin scored three of the next four to make it 22-20, and after a solo Cleveland block of Rettke, three more Badger points made it 23-23 and drew Purdue’s other timeout. Cleveland got Purdue a set point with a kill, but Duello tied it at 24, then gave Wisconsin match point at 24-25 and earned it herself with her third straight kill.
Purdue was outhit for the second straight match, although this one was no surprise, and in fact the Boilers did a good job of keeping Wisconsin under their season average, with the Badgers hitting just .218 to Purdue’s .194 and getting 45 kills to Purdue’s 37. Wisconsin also led in assists (36-42), aces (6/+3 to 5/-3/-.044), and digs (35-40), while Purdue outblocked them 9-6 and had the only three solo blocks of the match.
Atkinson returned to her customary place at the top of the kills list, but was also the only Boiler in double figures, getting 11 kills but hitting just .156. Cleveland just missed, with 9 kills at .222, while the only Purdue player hitting effectively was Shavona Cuttino, who hit .857 but had just 6 kills. Bush shared match honors with 33 assists; Hornung had all five of Purdue’s aces and was +3/.136, her best effort of the season. Cleveland had two solo blocks and led all players with 4.0 total, while Peters had a match-high 14 digs.
Sophomore MB Dana Rettke took top honors for Wisconsin with a match-high 15 kills and a team-high .323; redshirt junior OH Madison Duello joined her with 12 kills at .300. Sophomore setter Sydney Hilley matched Bush with 33 assists, while redshirt sophomore OH Molly Haggerty was the only Badger with double-figure digs, getting exactly 10. Rettke (2/+1), Haggerty (2/+2), junior DS* Tiffany Clark (1/+1) and junior libero ME Dodge (1/even) had Wisconsin’s aces, while redshirt freshman MB Danielle Hart led the Badgers with 2.0 total blocks.
*there was no PDF of the PBP, and that’s the one that has lineups in it, so I’m going from memory and assuming that Dodge got the start at libero; Wisconsin’s roster lists four players as liberos, so that’s no help
Maryland was a lot better than I thought they were - if they continue on this path, College Park will be a tough road trip, and not just because of the distance. As much as I hammer on Delany for the huge mistake he made in admitting Rutgers, I will admit that Maryland is at least fielding a competent team in all the sports I follow (yes, the hiring of Durkin proved to be a colossal mistake, but that’s an article for another time), and it’s good to see that there should be 13 decent-or-better teams in the conference now.
The loss to Wisconsin was no big deal. After all, for all the wins Purdue’s rattled off this year, they’re still a young team … although Wisconsin is arguably younger, with Tionna Williams the only senior on the team. Anyway, they played three tough sets, with a great comeback in the first, and that’s something they can build on for their upcoming road trip.
Also of note: Brooke Peters became the 19th Boiler to top the 1000-dig mark ... um, against Southern Miss, when she posted 32 digs in that five-set win. Since Sidearm still hasn’t posted the 2018 media guide, I had to do some digging, but I believe Peters is now 12th on the list with 1132 digs; 11th place is Kim Corwin, with 1145, so Brooke should pass her in Ann Arbor. Next up is someone who just returned to campus: former Boiler player and current Wisconsin assistant Brittany Dildine, who had 1243 digs from 2003-06.
Two of the four unbeatens dropped a match, with Wisconsin swept at Minnesota and Illinois falling at home to fellow unbeaten Nebraska. The Huskers host the other remaining unbeaten, Minnesota, in a match that will likely be the best of the weekend. At the other end, Michigan State got their first conference win, with just Northwestern and Rutgers winless now … and both will stay that way, as the Wildcats face Minnesota and Illinois while Rutgers plays Ohio State and Maryland. The Buckeyes did lose in five sets at Maryland, so it’s possible … also, note that OSU is traveling to Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State in one road trip. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Two tough weeks await the Boilers, as they travel to Michigan and Michigan State this week, come home to play Penn State next Wednesday, then travel to Iowa that Saturday. Massey sees five-set losses at MSU and Iowa and four-set losses in the other two matches: looking at the standings, that seems all too reasonable. The top of the pack is starting to separate itself from the rest of the conference, and if the Boilers want to be part of it, they’ll need to steal a match (or two) from this set.
Note the late start time on Friday. At least it’s a short trip for Saturday’s match. As per usual, you can listen for free online or on WSHY 104.3 FM, and remember to hit the links above for live stats, since they’re both road matches and thus not on Purdue’s site. Both schools use Sidearm like Purdue does, so the stat trackers should be solid.
No new pics since Maryland was away and on Saturday the photogs were taking pics of Purdue soccer winning the Golden Boot on a golden goal, which is alright by me. Feature photo from last year’s match at Maryland courtesy of Purdue Athletics.