Jan. 17, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 2013 volleyball team celebrated its second Elite Eight berth in four seasons as well as the careers of the five seniors who helped lead the team to a successful 23-12 season at its annual postseason banquet Friday night.
The event, which marked the end of the careers for libero Carly Cramer, setter Rachel Davis, defensive specialist Hilliary Fox, and outside hitters Katie Griffin and Catherine Rebarchak, also saw the team hand out its annual awards and look to the future.
Junior setter/outside hitter Val Nichol was honored for her AVCA All-America third team accolade as well as her All-Big Ten selection. The Normal, Ill., native, who was also an AVCA All-Region and All-Big Ten selection in 2013, averaged 2.77 kills per set, while dishing out 6.03 assists per set, managing 1.79 digs per set and serving up 21 aces. The Academic All-Big Ten selection recorded 20 double-doubles and two triple doubles. She led Purdue in kills 18 times in 2013 and in digs and blocks twice each. She posted double-digit kill tallies 16 times and double-digit digs on six occasions. The junior helped Purdue's hitters to a .250 or better hitting percentage in 15 matches, while hitting over the .250 mark 18 times as an individual.
Junior middle blocker KiKi Jones earned Honorable Mention All-America and first team All-Northeast Region accolades after a season which saw her lead the Boilers in blocking with 1.21 stuffs per set, and chip in 2.15 kills per set, while hitting at a team-best .394 clip and adding 25 aces. The Fishers, Ind., native ranked 28th nationally in hitting percentage and sixth among Big Ten players in blocks. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honoree led Purdue in blocks 20 times, while putting up five or more blocks on 18 occasions. The Academic All-Big Ten selection posted double-digit kills in nine matches, while leading the team four times. Jones earned a spot on the season top 10 for blocks assists, ranking fourth with 142, and also ranks sixth in career block assists (364) and ninth in total blocks (409).
Senior libero Carly Cramer and senior outside hitter Catherine Rebarchak were recognized for their selection as honorable mention all-region honorees.
Cramer was the Boilermakers' leading defensive player with 3.98 digs per set, ranking 8th on the season Top 10 for digs (493) and 10th in digs per set, while also contributing a team-leading 32 aces and 0.91 assists per set. The Martinsville, Ind., native also aided the team by making good on 95 percent of her serve reception opportunities and helping the team to a hitting percentage of .250 or better in 15 matches. The Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection tallied double-digit digs 30 times, including 20 or more five times, while leading the Boilers on 30 occasions. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Academic All-Big Ten selection ranks second on Purdue's all-time digs list with 1,811, and fourth in career digs per set (3.49).
Rebarchak led the Boilermaker offense with 2.87 kills per set, while hitting at a .256 clip and adding 0.74 blocks per set. The redshirt senior missed six matches midseason due to an abdominal strain, but still managed to post double-digit kills in 15 matches, while leading the team on 10 occasions. The Mobile, Ala., native posted one 20-kill effort, setting a career high against Notre Dame. The Academic All-Big Ten selection recorded her 900th career kill against No. 19 Michigan State in the regular season finale and ended her career with 936 kills.
In addition to the individual accolades that were recognized, team honors, including the Red Mackey Award and the Carol Dewey Mental Attitude Award, were distributed. The Carol Dewey award is bestowed on the individual voted by her teammates as the player who best exemplifies the positive image represented by Purdue Volleyball. The Red Mackey Award, established in 1971, is named for former Purdue Athletic Director Guy "Red" Mackey, who served Purdue from 1942 to 1971. The inspiration for the award bearing his name stemmed from his leadership, loyalty, integrity and concern for others. The award criterion includes competitive spirit and a positive attitude, loyalty and self-discipline, hard work for the best interest of the team, and a willingness to help others.
Griffin was honored with the Carol Dewey Award. The Avon, Ind., has been an offensive spark for the Boilermakers during her career, providing key performances in big matches. In 98 matches, she put down 430 kills, including double-digit efforts in seven contests. The Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree ranks third in hitting percentage in five set matches with a .588 effort against Iowa in 2011. Griffin also added 80 digs and 81 blocks. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection put down 1.71 kills per set and added 23 blocks and 20 digs in 2013.
Fox garnered the Red Mackey Award. The Montgomery, Ind., native has been a steady defensive performer for the Boilermakers for the last four years. She has been a mainstay on the floor the last three years, totaling 578 digs in 87 matches, including 38 starts. The two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection recorded double-digit dig tallies in 24 matches, including 15 this season, while making good on 96 percent of her serve reception chances. She saved her best for last, averaging 2.66 digs per set, including 20 digs each against Illinois and Northwestern in 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. Sophomore outside hitter Sam Epenesa was named as the strongest upperclassman, while Griffin garnered the Most Improved Upperclassman award. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Faye Adelaja earned the strongest freshman nod, while setter Ashley Evans was named as the most improved freshman.
Epenesa ranked third on the team with 2.30 kills per set, while also contributing 96 digs, 51 blocks and 11 aces to the team's tallies. She posted double-digit kill tallies in eight matches, while leading the Boilers in kills six times. Adelaja was second on the team in blocks with 1.11 per set and added 1.34 kills per set. The Academic All-District and Academic All-Big Ten selection ranked seventh in the Big Ten in blocks preset and ninth on Purdue's season Top 10 list, while also earning Big Ten Defensive Player and Co-Freshman of the Week accolades during the season. Evans did not see any match action in 2013, instead redshirting to save a year of eligibility.
The Boilermakers also honored the academic accomplishments of the student-athletes, including Adelaja's Academic All-District V honor.
Senior setter Rachel Davis received 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. Davis, who has been a calming presence on the team from the setter position for the last four seasons, dished out 3,294 career assists, ranking eighth all-time. The Kalamazoo, Michigan, native handed out double-digit assists in 106 career matches, and added 874 digs. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten and two-time Academic All-District honoree posted 35 assist-dig double-doubles in her career. The AVCA National Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honoree ranked in the Top 50 nationally in assists per set in 2011.
Adelaja, Davis and eight other players received Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Annie Drews, Fox, Griffin, KiKi Jones, Amanda Neill, Val Nichol, Catherine Rebarchak and Kate Workman rounded 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 2012 season ranked eighth in the final AVCA Coaches Poll after its second Elite Eight run in the last four seasons and seventh Sweet 16 berth in the last nine seasons. Purdue is one of just five teams to advance to the Sweet 16 each of the last four years.
The returning players will take a brief respite before getting back into the gym to prepare for their spring campaign, which will include four competition dates.