Aug. 29, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The championship match of the 2009 Mortar Board Premier had everything a fan could want, a back-and-forth battle, a come-from-behind effort and intrigue to the very end. The only downer for the 2,386 fans in attendance at Saturday evening's contest between No. 19 Purdue and Dayton was that the home-standing Boilermakers fell just short of the title, falling 3-2 to the Flyers. Dayton won the match 25-23, 25-20, 17-25, 22-25 and 15-11.
"We lost our momentum a little and started looking around to see who was going to get it done, instead of just doing it," head coach Dave Shondell said. "I am not disappointed with our efforts this weekend. I know as a Big Ten coach it is about wins and losses, but if we worry about that and let it get into our heads, we will wind up shooting ourselves in the foot. We are a young team and will continue to do everything we can to get better. We need to look at all of the things we figured out this weekend and focus on those. If we won all three matches in routine fashion, we may not have discovered those things. We just need to keep positive and move forward."
A trio of Boilermaker hitters posted double-digit kill tallies. Senior outside hitter Carrie Gurnell posted a match-high 15 putaways, while freshman Ariel Turner and sophomore Tiffany Fisher pounded down 14 and 12 respectively. Fisher hit at a match-best .556 clip, while also adding a team-high four blocks. Gurnell and Fisher went on to receive Mortar Board all-tournament team accolades.
Defensively, redshirt sophomore libero Blair Bashen racked up a career-best 22 digs, while serving up two aces and dishing out four assists. Sophomore defensive specialist Emily Ehlers added 17 digs, while junior setter Jaclyn Hart tallied 10 to go with her 49 assists for a double-double.
Dayton took a 3-1 lead to start the fifth and deciding set, but Purdue countered with a 5-0 run, including an ace off the tape by Turner and kills by junior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs and Gurnell. The Boilermakers pushed their lead to four at 8-4 after a Flyer miscue and another Arthurs putaway. After the changeover, Dayton rattled off eight straight points, including an ace, to go up 12-8. A service error broke the streak and Turner posted a putaway to make it a three-point game at 13-10. Tournament MVP Lindsay Fletemier posted her 15th kill of the night to set up match point for Dayton. A service error thwarted the first effort, but Amanda Cowdrey issued the final blow at 15-11. The Flyers out hit the Boilermakers .147 to -.034 in the final stanza.
The match started on a positive note for Purdue as the team scored the opening four points of the match on a pair of Turner putdowns, a kill by Fisher and an ace by Bashen. The Boilermakers pushed ahead to a 6-1 lead, but saw Dayton quickly close to within one at 7-6 before taking a 9-8 lead of its own. Purdue regained control and went up 13-10 after back-to-back blocks by Fisher, who combined with redshirt junior Lisa Pierce and Turner on the efforts. Another Bashen ace made it 15-12 and held the Flyers at bay. Trailing 19-17, Dayton mounted a comeback, utilizing a 5-0 run to go up 22-19. A Turner putaway stopped the rally and three UD miscues cut the deficit to one at 24-23, but a Flyer kill cut the push short at 25-23.
Dayton led the second set from start to finish, leading 14-5 midway through the stanza. Purdue narrowed the gap to four at 14-10 after a pair of Turner kills and a few Flyer miscues. The teams split the next 12 points leading to a 20-16 score. The teams then traded two-point rallies over the next eight serves leading to a 24-20 Dayton advantage. Trailing 24-18, the Boilermakers thwarted two set point attempts on a Flyer service error and a kill by Arthurs, but suffered a service miscue of their own to fall 25-20.
Facing a two-set deficit, the Boilermakers came out on fire after the intermission, scoring six of the first seven points in the third set. A pair of blocks and kills from three players including a stabbing dig by Hart accounted for the lead. Dayton clawed back to within two at 7-5, but Purdue countered with a 7-2 rally to go up 14-7. Fisher racked up three kills and a block during the stretch. The Flyers pulled within four at 16-12, but would get no closer. Gurnell and Turner posted putaways in the waning moments, before Hart and Arthurs combined on the set-clinching block at 25-17.
The Boilermakers took a 3-1 lead in the fourth set, thanks to a pair of Turner kills, and would hold the lead the rest of the stanza, save a tie at 3-3. The Purdue advantage stood at 14-10 halfway through the set as Gurnell, Turner and Fisher poured in putdowns. The margin teetered between three and four for 13 points, until a Dayton kill cut the deficit to two at 20-18. The Boilermakers responded with three of the next four on kills by Gurnell, Arthurs and Hart to make it 23-19. Dayton countered with a kill and block, but a point by freshman outside hitter Katie Griffin put Purdue on the hill at 24-21. Two plays later, Turner wrapped up the set at 25-22 sending the match to the deciding fifth set. Purdue hit .419 in the stanza.
The Boilermakers return to action on Friday, when they take on UTSA at the Baylor Classic in Waco, Texas.