AUSTIN, Texas - The Boilermaker volleyball team exhibited great heart and character in the midst of adversity Saturday night, falling to No. 6 Texas 3-1 after senior setter Jaclyn Hart succumbed to injury in the opening stanza. The Longhorns won the match 18-25, 25-16, 26-15, 27-25, but Purdue fought hard and even pushed UT to the limit in the fourth set with redshirt freshman setter Rachel Davis at the helm.
"Overall it was a great weekend in Austin," head coach Dave Shondell said. "Obviously it is disappointing to lose a match in which the winner advances to go to the Final Four, but I am proud of our team. It was enjoyable to watch them play to tonight. It is hard to lose an All-America caliber setter when you are trying to beat Texas in their gym, but our team responded well to the challenge. We nearly forced them to a fifth game, which would have been nice to watch."
Sophomore Ariel Turner led all hitters with a match-high 23 kills and also managed 11 digs and two service aces. Redshirt freshman Catherine Rebarchak added 10 kills and redshirt freshman Katie Griffin chipped in seven in the contest. Junior Tiffany Fisher tallied five kills, while senior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs was credited with four in her final contest as a Boilermaker.
Defensively, sophomore Carly Cramer pulled up 15 digs, followed by Turner (11). Davis pulled up six digs and added two blocks and a kill after taking over as the floor general. Davis had seen action in just 13 sets in 2010 prior to Saturday night's call to action.
Hart and Turner were named to the Austin Regional all-tournament team for their efforts against No. 1 Florida and against Texas.
After splitting the first six points of the match, Purdue made its move, jumping ahead 10-5. Turner posted a kill and an ace and Arthurs pounded down two kills, including an overpass en route to the five-point advantage. Texas pulled within two at 12-10, but the Boilermaker offense responded in the form of three Turner putaways, which made it 16-11. Purdue pushed ahead by six at 19-13 on an overpass kill by Arthurs, but senior setter Jaclyn Hart was injured during the point. The Longhorns cut the margin to three twice, last at 20-17, but the Boilermakers surged ahead 23-17 after a pair of UT miscues and another Turner kill, her seventh of the set. A Texas block slowed Purdue momentarily, but a Rebarchak kill and a Texas hitting error sealed the 25-18 win. Purdue outhit UT .438 to .269 in the stanza.
Purdue held the early lead in Set 2, but the Longhorns used a 9-3 run to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 15-10 lead at the TV timeout midway through the stanza. The Boilermakers reached the 7-6 advantage thanks to an ace by Ehlers, kills by four different players and a block by Rebarchak and Fisher. Purdue scored back-to-back points out of the break on kills by Fisher and Griffin to pull within three at 15-12. UT managed six of the next seven to go up 21-13 and prompt the Boilermakers to use both of their timeouts. Griffin got a kill right out of the break, but Texas went up 24-14 three plays later. A Turner kill stopped the run and a Longhorn hitting error kept the set going, before Rachael Adams ended the stanza.
The Boilermakers scored the opening point of the third set on a Rebarchak putaway, but soon trailed 8-3. A Turner kill and Texas hitting error cut the margin to three at 8-5. Another UT miscue and a Griffin kill made it 10-7, but the Longhorn pushed ahead by six at 14-8. A two Turner putaways and a stuff block by Fisher narrowed the gap to four at 15-11. A service error and hitting error by Texas prompted a UT timeout at 17-13. The teams traded points over the next four serves with Purdue earning points on a UT service error and a Griffin putaway. The Longhorns finished the set with six straight points to take the 25-15 win. Turner managed four kills in the set.
Purdue had three set point attempts in the fourth stanza, but No. 6 Texas fought them off and clinched the match at 27-25 with a pair of kills and a block. Texas scored two of the first three points in the set, but Purdue put up nine of the next 11, including six straight, to go up 10-4 and force UT to use both of its timeouts. Turner tallied three kills in the run, while Fisher and Davis teamed up for two blocks. The Longhorns cut the margin to three three times, last at 13-10, but the Boilermakers maintained the edge, pushing the advantage to five at 15-10 on a Turner kill and a UT miscue. The teams traded points over the next 10 serves leading to a 20-15 score. Turner posted three kills, while Rebarchak and Fisher also contributed to Purdue's tally. Texas scored three straight to make it 20-18 and prompt a Purdue timeout. Turner, Fisher and Rebarchak tallied kills as Purdue went up 23-20. A net violation kill made it 23-22, but Turner put down another kill to give the Boilermakers a set-point attempt at 24-22. A pair of UT kills kept the set going, then a kill by redshirt freshman setter Rachel Davis made it 25-24 Purdue. The Longhorns managed three straight points to steal the win and end Purdue's NCAA run.
Purdue finished the season 24-11 after advancing to its first NCAA Regional Final since 1982 and knocking off three Top 10 opponents, including No. 1 Florida. The team also defeated No. 4 Penn State, the program's first win over the Nittany Lions since 1987, and No. 10 Illinois.
Saturday night's match marked the final contest for a pair of four-year starters: setter Jaclyn Hart and middle blocker Kristen Arthurs, who guided Purdue to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16s and this year's Elite Eight run.