Dec. 13, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 19 Purdue volleyball team earned its first Elite Eight berth since 2010 with a 3-0 sweep over host Illinois at the State Farm Center Friday night. The Boilermakers won the match 28-26, 25-20, 25-19 as six players put down four or more kills and the Boilers outblocked the Illini 11-4.5.
Juniors Val Nichol and KiKi Jones and redshirt senior Catherine Rebarchak posted nine kills apiece to lead the offensive attack. Sophomore Sam Epenesa added seven , sophomore Annie Drews put down six and redshirt freshman Faye Adelaja chipped in four kills as Purdue outhit Illinois .216 to .111.
Defensively, redshirt senior Carly Cramer pulled up a match-high 15 digs, while Nichol and senior Hilliary Fox added 11 apiece. Adelaja led Purdue at the net with six stuffs, while Drews was credited with five blocks.
Purdue dug deep in Set 1, winning it 28-26 on the fifth combined set-point of the stanza after trailing 24-21. The teams tied 16 times and the lead changed hands eight times in the back-and-forth battle. The Boilermakers went ahead 4-1 care of kills by Rebarchak and Epenesa and a pair of Illini miscues. Illinois charged back to go up 8-6. Purdue regained the lead at 11-9 with a 5-1 run, including kills by Nichol, Rebarchak and Jones and a stuff by Drews and Adelaja. The teams tied five times, last at 15, before Illini managed a 16-15 lead. An ace by Nichol put Purdue on top 18-17, but Illinois regained the edge at 19-18 and went on to a 24-21 lead. The Boilers scored four straight, thwarting two set points for UI, to go up 25-24 and force both Illinois timeouts. The Illinois countered with two points to go ahead 26-25. A kill by Nichol knotted it at 26 and back to back putaways by Drews clinched the 28-26 win.
The Boilermakers led Set 2 from start to finish, save ties at 2-2 and 16-16. Purdue outhit the Illini .184 to .098 in the stanza, which saw five Boilers put down two or more kills and the team post five blocks. Purdue jumped ahead 6-2 as Nichol downed two kills and combined with Jones on a stuff forcing a UI timeout. Illinois cut the margin to two at 7-5, but a 5-1 Boilermaker run extended the lead to 12-6, prompting another Illini timeout. A block by Drews and Adelaja capped the rally. Down 16-11, Illinois scored five straight to tie it up at 16, but the Boilers answered with five of the next six points to go ahead 21-17. A n ace by Neill and a kill and a block by Jones aided the run. The Illini made it a two-point game at 21-19, but Purdue closed it out with four of the final five points. Drews and Adelaja had putaways in the final stretch, but it was an Illinois ball that sailed long that gave the Boilermakers the 25-20 win.
Purdue used a 3-0 run including a pair of Illini miscues to take a 7-4 lead. A block by Drews and Adelaja made it 9-6, but Illinois scored three straight to tie it up. The teams split the next eight points, leading to a 13-13 tie. A kill by Nichol and a stuff by Jones and Drews put Purdue up 15-13 at the TV timeout. Down 18-15, Illinois called a timeout and narrowed the gap to one with a Boiler error and a kill. That just sparked a 6-0 Boilermaker run, which set up match point at 24-17. Two Purdue blocks, involving Adelaja, and three Illini miscues aided the Purdue effort. A net violation and hitting error thwarted Purdue's first two match-point chances, but a kill by Epenesa capped the sweep at 25-19 and sent the Boilers to their first Elite Eight since 2010.
The Boilermakers (23-11) will face Wisconsin in Saturday's Regional Final with the winner advancing to the Final Four. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. ET and the match will air live on ESPNU.