Jan. 14, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A 29-5 season, including a Sweet 16 appearance, a second place Big Ten finish and a 17-1 mark at home, as well as the careers of three talented seniors were celebrated at the Boilermaker volleyball team's annual banquet on Saturday.
Individual honors, including those of Ariel Turner, Purdue volleyball's first double All-America honoree since 1984, as well as team accomplishments were recognized during the event, which also served as a sendoff for the squad's three seniors: defensive specialists Blair Bashen and Emily Ehlers and middle blocker Tiffany Fisher.
Junior outside hitter Ariel Turner was recognized for her various accolades, including first team All-America, second team Academic All-America, Big Ten Player of the Year and Unanimous All-Big Ten selections. The five-time Big Ten Player of the Week honoree averaged a team-best 4.84 kills per set, ranking second on the Purdue season list, while adding 2.84 digs per set, second most on the team. She set the season record for hitting attempts with 1682, snapping Colleen DeMeyer's 1979 mark of 1512, while posting double digit kills in 32 matches. She managed 17 double-doubles, combining kills and digs each time, while leading the team in kills 32 times, digs three times and blocks twice. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native tallied her 1,000th kill and 500th dig during the season. Turner ranks third in career hitting attempts and 10th in career kills.
Fisher, an honorable mention All-America and unanimous All-Big Ten selection, was honored for her prowess on the court, which included a stellar hitting effort and key blocking. The Topeka, Ind., native ranked 10th nationally in hitting percentage this season (.394) and second on the Purdue season list, while putting down 2.52 kills per set. The senior ranks ninth in career block assists at Purdue with 322. All told, Fisher averaged 2.25 kills per set in her career, while hitting at a .322 clip, third-best all-time, and putting up 0.88 blocks per set. Fisher posted 10 or more kills in 38 matches and five or more blocks 25 times. An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection in 2009, she also managed 64 aces, including a team-leading tally in 2010 and 2011, and 204 digs in her 115-match career. An education major, Tiffany will graduate in May of 2013.
Freshman middle blocker Kierra Jones was recognized for her selection to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. The three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and two-time Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week ranked fifth in the Big Ten with a team-best 1.22 blocks per set, while also averaging 1.44 kills per set, and hitting .350, a clip which ranked fourth in the Big Ten. The Fishers, Ind., native saw action in 32 matches and led the team in blocks 17 times. The rookie hit .250 or better in 22 matches.
Big Ten Coach of the Year Dave Shondell and several other speakers throughout the banquet discussed the historical nature of the 2011 season, which saw the Boilermakers post their best overall record and most conference wins since 1985. The team also finished second in the Big Ten, its best conference placing since 1987, and defeated seven ranked opponents, a program record.
Team honors, including the Red Mackey nomination and the Carol Dewey Mental Attitude Award, also were distributed.
Bashen, who went from a walk-on hitter to the team's starter at libero during a five-year career, earned the team's Red Mackey Award nomination. Each team at Purdue nominates and individual for the Mackey Award and three student-athletes are chosen at the end of the year to receive another year of scholarship money for their continuing education.
In her five years as a Boilermaker, Bashen earned a spot on the career digs list, ranking seventh with 1,265, and is one nine players in the 30-dig club and one of only four players to reach the milestone twice. The Houston, Texas native recorded her 1,000th career dig against No. 9 Penn State earlier this season, and wrapped up her career ranked eighth on Purdue's all-time list with 1,265. All told, she posted 10 or more digs 60 times, including 15 efforts of 20 or more and two 30-plus dig performances. The defensive specialist played in 111 matches, averaging 3.21 digs per set, good for fifth-best all-time, and racking up 72 aces and 192 assists along the way. An organizational leadership and supervision major, Blair will graduate in May of 2012.
Ehlers capped her career by garnering the Carol Dewey Mental Attitude Award, which is bestowed on the individual voted by her teammates as the player who best exemplifies the positive image represented by Purdue Volleyball. Ehlers also received the Sue Jurkonis Strength Award for strongest upperclassman for her work in the weight room.
The Mishawaka, Ind., native became the 14th Purdue player to reach the 1,000 dig milestone on Nov. 10. All told, she pulled up 1,087 digs, including 50 double-digit efforts and 20-or-more saves on three occasions. She averaged 2.51 digs per set, while also recording 48 aces and 176 assists. Ehlers also made good on 97 percent of her serve reception opportunities in 116 matches. She also was honored as Purdue volleyball's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award nominee. A selling and sales management major, Emily will graduate in May of 2013.
The team honored four players with Sue Jurkonis Strength Awards, which are given out annually in honor of former Boilermaker Sue Jurkonis who played volleyball for Purdue form 1994 to 1996. Jurkonis was an avid weight lifter and one of the Boilermakers' strongest athletes before losing her two-year battle with brain cancer in 1998.
Ehlers garnered Strongest Upperclassman honors, while junior middle blocker Anna Drewry was named as the Most Improved Upperclassman. Drewry averaged 1.23 kills and 0.90 blocks per set. She posted five or more blocks once, while leading the team three times: vs. Western Carolina and Michigan State and at Northwestern. She tallied 38 kills, while also adding two assists and one ace. The San Antonio native hit .250 or better seven times, including .300 or better four times and .400 or better twice.
Outside hitter Val Nichol was named as the Strongest Freshman, while middle blocker Kaisley Fisher received Most Improved Freshman accolades. Nichol played in 31 matches, averaging 2.11 kills per set, third most on the team. The Normal, Ill., native posted double-digit kills on six occasions, including a team-leading 15 vs. Western Carolina, and hit .250 or better in 12 matches. She also led team in blocks twice: vs. #2 Nebraska and Western Carolina, and added 30 digs and three assists. Fisher saw action in two matches before missing the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The Plainfield, Ill., native played against Air Force and Western Carolina, posting three kills and three blocks in the latter match.
The Boilermakers also recognized the academic accomplishments of the student-athletes, including Turner's second team Academic All-America honor, the first by a Purdue volleyball player since 2004.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Katie Griffin garnered the Helen B. Schleman Award from the Reamer Club for being the junior or senior with the highest GPA on the team over the last two semesters.
Turner, Griffin and four players received Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Junior defensive specialist Carly Cramer, redshirt sophomore setter Rachel Davis, sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Hilliary Fox and junior defensive specialist Courtney Gosewisch round out the group. Student-athletes must be in at least their second academic year and carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 to be eligible for the honors.
The Boilermakers ended the 2011 season ranked 10th in the final AVCA Coaches poll. Purdue advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished the year 25-9, including a 16-4 second-place finish in Big Ten play.
The returning players will soon be back in the gym to begin preparations for their spring campaign, which includes four tournaments. Fan can see the team at home on April 14. The full spring schedule is below.
March 31- Capital Sports Center; Plainfield, Ind.
April 7 - Butler; Indianapolis, Ind.
April 14 - Purdue Tournament
April 21 - Kentucky Tournament; Lexington, Ky.