WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 9 Purdue volleyball team sewed up its second-straight Mortar Board Premier tournament title with another 3-0 sweep, this time topping Pittsburgh 25-16, 25-23, 25-6 on Saturday night.
Purdue outhit the Panthers .381 to .105 and posted nine blocks to just four. Senior Ariel Turner paced the offense with 14 kills on a career-best .538 hitting effort. Senior Anna Drewry chipped in nine kills and a team-leading five blocks. Sophomore Val Nichol, redshirt junior Catherine Rebarchak and sophomore Kiki Jones added eight, seven and six putaways respectively.
Redshirt senior Amanda Miller pulled up 10 digs and added three aces, while redshirt junior Carly Cramer chipped in seven digs and two aces. Miller earned MVP honors for her weekend play, while Turner and Nichol were tabbed for the six member all-tournament team. Northern Iowa's Megan Lehman and Amy Braun, Pittsburgh's Margy Acton and George Washington's Taylor Knox rounded out the honorees.
The Boilermakers raced out to a 6-1 start in Set 1 behind a pair of Drewry blocks and an ace by Miller. Purdue upped its lead to 10 at 16-6 as Drewry pounded down a trio of kills and Jones and Turner also chipped in offensively. Two Jones putaways, including an overpass kill, and a pair of Pitt miscues made it 20-8. The Panthers managed six of the next eight point to make it 22-14, but it was too little to late as kills by Rebarchak and Nichol set up Purdue's first shot at the set at 24-15. Drewry nailed down the set with her fourth kill of the stanza two plays later. Turner and Jones also added four kills apiece.
Turner and Rebarchak picked up the offensive load in Set 2, combining for 10 kills without an error, as Purdue squeaked out a 25-23 win. Pitt took the early lead in the stanza with three of the first four points, but the Boilermakers turned the tables with a 5-0 run, including two Turner putaways. The Panthers responded with eight of the next 10 points to vault ahead 11-8 and force a Purdue timeout. The Boilermakers scored seven of the next 10 out of the break to tie it up at 15. Drewry, Nichol and redshirt junior Katie Griffin provided the offensive push. Pitt went up 17-15, but again Purdue responded, this time with a 4-1 run to regain the advantage at 19-18. The see-saw battle continued as the Panthers boasted a 21-19 advantage and after a tie at 21, led again at 22-21. The Boilermakers used a 4-1 run to sneak away with the set. A Rebarchak kill started the rally, a block and a kill by Drewry made it 24-23, setting up Nichol's game winning putaway.
Purdue cruised to an 11-0 start in Set 3 as Drewry, Nichol and Turner pounded down kills and the Pitt errors piled up. A kill by Jessica Wynn finally stopped Miller's serving rally, but the pause was just momentary as the Boilermakers went on to a 17-3 lead with help from Turner kills and a pair of Cramer aces. The teams split the next four points leading to a 19-5 score. A Panther service coupled with back-to-back blocks by rookie Sam Epenesa, who had just entered the match, and a kill and block assist by redshirt freshman Kaisley Fisher made it 23-5 Purdue. Pitt managed a kill, but Epenesa put down the penultimate point. A Panther hitting attempt sailed long sealing the 25-6 win and the Mortar Board title. The Boilermakers hit .619 in the set, while holding Pitt to a -.074 effort.
Purdue (3-0) returns to action at 1 p.m. Friday when they take on Washington in Baton Rouge, La., at the LSU Tiger Classic.