Oct. 11, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A crowd of 5,160 packed Mackey Arena, the fifth largest in Purdue volleyball history and the No. 20 Boilermakers treated them to a 3-1 win over Illinois that was a back-and-forth battle from wire to wire. Purdue won the match 29-31, 25-23, 25-17, 25-23.
Four Boilermakers posted double digit kills in the match, marking only the second time in 2013 that has happened. Junior Val Nichol and sophomore Sam Epenesa led the charge with 14 kills apiece, followed by sophomore Annie Drews (12) and junior KiKi Jones (10).
The Boilermakers won every major statistical category in the match, including hitting percentage (.253 to .197), blocks (9-7) and digs (79-65).
Redshirt senior Carly Cramer paced the backcourt with 21 digs, while senior Hilliary Fox added a career-high 20. Redshirt senior setter Rachel Davis pulled up 11 digs to round out double double (also 34 assists), while Nichol chipped in nine and sophomore Amanda Neill managed eight saves. Neill also served up three aces. At the net, Jones put up five blocks, while Nichol and redshirt freshman Faye Adelaja added four apiece.
Illinois led 6-2 early in Set 1, but Purdue charged back with six of the next eight points to tie it up at 8. After a tie at 9-9, Illinois scored five of the next six to raise it lead to four at 14-10. The Boilermakers levered the score at 15 after two kills by Rebarchak and an ace by Neill. The teams split the next 14 points, with neither gaining more than a two point edge, leading to a 22-22 stalemate. Down 17-15 and again at 22-20, the Boilermakers used key blocks to stay with the Illini. A stuff by Drews and Jones and a kill by Nichol brought the tie at 22. Facing set point at 24-22, the Boilermakers benefited from a pair of Illinois miscues and a kill by Nichol to have a set point chance of their own at 25-24. A kill by Epenesa gave Purdue another shot at 26-25, but the Illini thwarted the effort and added an ace to go up 27-26. Epenesa kept the Boilers in it and a pair of Illinois errors gave Purdue another chance at 29-28. The Illini scored three straight, including two Purdue miscues to seal the 31-29 win. Redshirt senior Catherine Rebarchak chalked up six kills in the stanza to lead the Boilermakers.
Purdue was the aggressor in Set 2 and fought through eight tie scores and four lead changes en route to the 25-23 win. The teams split the first 16 points before the Boilermakers were able to pull away. Up 12-11, the Boilers put together a 5-1 run including kills by Epenesa and Nichol and an ace by Jones to take a 17-12 lead. Trailing by six at 21-15, Illinois mounted a comeback, tying the set at 21-21 including a pair of blocks. Putaways by Adelaja and Drews pushed Purdue to a 24-22 edge, before a kill by Jones capped the stanza. Drews had five kills in the set, which saw both teams hit at a .237 clip.
The Boilermakers outhit the Illini .371 to .111 in a 25-17 Set 3 win. Purdue led the stanza from start to finish, building an early 9-4 advantage and never allowing Illinois closer than four the rest of the way. Three straight Epenesa kills and an ace by Jones gave Purdue the 9-4 lead. Kills by four different players helped push the advantage to seven at 18-11. The Illini narrowed the gap to four at 19-15, but Purdue closed out the win with six of the last eight. A trio of Griffin kills set up a final putdown by Nichol to clinch the win.
Nichol carried the Boilermakers in the fourth and final set, racking up six kills on nine swings as Purdue posted a 25-23 come-from-behind win. Illinois went up 7-4, before the Boilermakers countered with five straight points, including back-to-back aces by Neill to take a 9-7 lead and force an Illini timeout. The teams tied four times after the break, last at 12-12, before UI managed a four-point edge at 18-14. Purdue rallied to take a 20-19 lead care of four Nichol putaways and one by Epenesa. A hitting error slowed the Boilers momentarily, but an Adelaja kill and two Illini miscues made it 23-20. Holding just a one-point edge at 243-22, Drews pounded down a kill to put Purdue on the hill. An Illini block kept the set going, but Griffin downed the final nail at 25-23.
The No. 20 Boilermakers (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) return to action at 6 p.m. Saturday, when they take on the Northwester Wildcats live on the Big Ten Network. It is Dig For A Cure night, so fans are encouraged to wear pink to support the breast cancer awareness cause.