Aug 30, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 16 Boilermaker volleyball team hung took No. 4 USC four sets, but could not finish the upset bid on opening night, falling 3-1, by scores of 25-21, 19-25, 21-25, 16-25. The teams battled back and forth in front of a standing-room only crowd of 2,664, with the Boilermaker backcourt and the USC block headlining the match.
USC won the blocking battle 17-5, marking the most blocks allowed by Purdue since Dec. 9, 2011, but the Boilermakers came up with 50 kills to USC's 46 and outdug the Women of Troy 59-33. Sophomore Sam Epenesa had a breakout match, tallying a team-best 12 kills on a .364 hitting effort, while junior Val Nichol also chipped in 12 kills to go with 20 assists and seven digs. Four other Purdue players posted five or more kills: senior Catherine Rebarchak (6), junior KiKi Jones (6), sophomore Annie Drews (6) and redshirt freshman Faye Adelaja (5).
On defense, sophomore Amanda Neill led the way with a match-high 16 digs. Redshirt senior Rachel Davis added 10 digs to go with her 20 assists, while senior Hilliary Fox and redshirt senior Carly Cramer each added 10 as well.
USC was hot out of the gates, scoring six of the first seven points, but Purdue settled down and rallied to pull within one at 8-7. A pair of Epenesa kills and an ace by Jones aided the effort. The Boilermakers knotted the score at 10 on an ace by Davis, then added back-to-back kills by Nichol to take their first lead of the night at 12-11, forcing a USC timeout. The Women of Troy bounced back with three of the next four points, but Purdue used a 4-0 run, including a stuff by Jones and Drews to jump ahead 17-14. USC tied it at 18, but Epenesa put down three kills to keep the Boilers on top at 22-20. A pair of Nichol putaways and a Trojan net violation clinched the set at 25-21. Epenesa piled up six kills in the opener and Nichol chipped in five.
The Women of Troy led 3-1 in Set 2, but the teams were soon tied at 4-4 after an overpass kill by Jones. USC charged ahead to lead it by six at 12-6. The Boilers chipped away and used kills by Nichol, Epenesa and redshirt senior Katie Griffin to make it 16-13. The Trojans went up by seven at 23-16, but Purdue scored three straight, two on USC miscues to prolong the set at 23-19, but it was not enough. USC evened the match at a set apiece with a 25-19 win. The Women of Troy hit .357 to Purdue's .037 effort in the stanza.
The Boilermakers came back revived after the intermission break, scoring three of the first four points and jumping ahead 8-6 soon after. Drews had a kills, a block and an ace in the early going. USC countered with six of the next seven points to take a 12-9 lead, but Drews chalked up three straight kills to knot it up at 13. The teams tied at 15, 17 and 18, before Purdue gained the lead on a Trojan hitting error. A service error put the Boilers up 20-19, but USC scored five straight to steal away a 24-20 lead. A Griffin kill kept the set going, but a kill by Samantha Bricio gave the Women of Troy the 25-21 win.
Set four was a back and forth battle until the midway point, featuring seven ties in the early going. After the tie at 7-7, USC scored eight of the next nine points, forcing Purdue to use both of its timeouts. An overpass kill by Nichol and a block by Rebarchak and Jones cut the margin to five at 15-10. The teams split the next 10 points to make it 20-15 USC. The Women of Troy finished off the set with a 5-1 run to end the night with a 25-16 win.
The No. 16 Boilermakers look to bounce back when they take on Alabama A&M at 10 a.m. Saturday. Purdue will wrap up the Mortar Board Premier with a 5 p.m. contest against No. 21 Western Kentucky.