Mortar Board Premier Marks Home/Season Opener for No. 9 Volleyball

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM The 2012 Boilermakers look to knock off a ranked opponent to start the season for just the second time in program history when they take on No. 21 Northern Iowa on Friday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
The 2012 Boilermakers look to knock off a ranked opponent to start the season for just the second time in program history when they take on No. 21 Northern Iowa on Friday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Aug. 22, 2012

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Multimedia Information
Gametracker (live statistics) will be provided for all six Mortar Board Premier matches. Free live audio will be available for all three Purdue matches here. A live video stream of the three Purdue matches is available for a charge here.

The tournament central website for the Mortar Board Premier, which includes all audio, video and live stats links, can be found here.

Promotions
Friday, Aug. 24 - Block Party Callout/Tailgate: 5-7 p.m. Come enjoy pizza and soft drinks and get fired up for the season opener. Students must be season ticket holders and pay $5 at the Athletics Ticket Office or in the student ticket portal online to receive their Block Party T-shirt.

Saturday, Aug. 25 - Breakfast with the Boilers. Enjoy a breakfast smasher sandwich and a juice for just $5 or a bagel with cream cheese and a juice for $3 from the concession stand as you enjoy the 10 a.m. match between Pittsburgh and Northern Iowa or come early and eat before the noon match between Purdue and George Washington.

The Mortar Board Premier
The 22nd-annual Mortar Board Premier, a four-team, round robin tournament, will be played on Belin Court in Holloway Gymnasium on Aug. 24-25. The six-match event will feature George Washington, No. 21 Northern Iowa, Pittsburgh and No. 9 Purdue.

The Mortar Board Premier has been played every year since 1990 with the exception of the 2001 season, when the tournament was cancelled following the 9/11 tragedy. Fifty-four different teams have participated in the tournament over the years. The tournament is sponsored by Mortar Board, a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for distinguished ability and achievement in scholarship, leadership and service.

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: The ninth-ranked Boilermakers return 12 players, including five starters, from the 2011 team which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Head coach Dave Shondell is in his 10th season with the team, which was picked third in the 2012 Big Ten preseason poll.

Last Time Out: Purdue (29-5, 16-4 Big Ten) made its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and knocked off seven ranked foes in 2011. The Boilermakers finished tied for second in the Big Ten and went on to advance to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 21 Florida State.

Statistically Speaking: All-American outside hitter Ariel Turner, the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year, paces the offense, averaging 4.84 kills per set, while also adding 2.84 digs and 20 aces. Outside hitter Val Nichol ranks second among returners in kills per set with 2.11. Outside hitters Katie Griffin (1.84) and Catherine Rebarchak (1.77) follow. Middle blockers Kiki Jones led Purdue at the net with 1.22 blocks, while also adding 1.44 kills per set. Middle blocker Anna Drewry added 1.23 kills and 0.90 blocks per set.

Turner is the team's top returning defensive player with 2.84 digs per set. Carly Cramer (2.70), setter Rachel Davis (2.51) and Hilliary Fox (1.45) also contributed defensively.

Series Information
Northern Iowa (The series is tied 1-1): The Boilermakers took the first meeting in the series with the Panthers via 3-0 sweep on Aug. 25, 2006. UNI won the most recent contest 3-2 in the finale of the 2010 Mortar Board Premier.

George Washington (GW leads the series 1-0): The Colonials took the lone previous meeting in a four-set match on Sept. 16, 2000, at the American University Classic in Washington, D.C.

Pittsburgh (Purdue leads the series 9-0): The Boilermakers have won all nine previous meetings with the Panthers, beginning with a sweep on Nov. 3, 1978, at the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind. The most recent contest was at the Pitt Invitational on Sept. 3, 2010, which Purdue won 3-0.

What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top No. 21 Northern Iowa on Friday ...

• They will have won their season opener for the 11th straight year.

• They will move to 30-8 all-time in home openers, including a 9-1 mark in the Shondell era.

• They will move to 49-17 all-time in Mortar Board Premier matches.

• They will have beaten a ranked opponent to start a season for the second time in program history. Purdue beat No. 20 Kentucky at the Mortar Board Premier to kick off the 1994 season.

• They will record their 31st win over a ranked foe under head coach Dave Shondell.

• They will improve to 30-9 all-time when playing in the month of August, including a 2-0 mark when playing on August 24.

News About Northern Iowa
At First Glance: The No. 21 UNI Panthers return 10 letterwinners, including five starters, from the 2011 squad, which went 33-2 and advanced to the NCAA Second Round. The Panthers, which were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference in 2012, are coached by Bobbi Petersen, who is in her 13th year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Panthers went 33-2 overall and won their third straight Missouri Valley Conference title in 2011.

Statistically Speaking: Honorable Mention All-America and Preseason All-MVC pick Krista DeGeest leads a group of four UNI hitters averaging more than two kills per set. DeGeest (2.56), outside hitter Megan Lehman (2.55), outside hitter Amy Braun (2.40) and middle blocker Shelby Kintzel (2.39) return. Braun also added 3.61 digs per set, while DeGeest led the way at the net with 1.32 blocks per set.

Libero Candice Burke is back after posting 4.68 digs per set and 28 aces in 2011. Braun (3.61), defensive specialist Jenny Willms (2.46) and setter Molly Turk (2.33) also averaged more than two digs per set.

Chatting About the Colonials
At First Glance: George Washington brings a roster of 10 returning letterwinners, including four starters, and four newcomers to the field. GW, which was pick to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10, is coached by Amanda Ault, who is in her second year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Colonials posted a 20-10 record in 2011 and finished fourth in A-10 play.

Statistically Speaking: All-Conference honoree Lauren Whyte led the offense with 3.86 kills per set, while also adding 2.07 digs per set and 20 aces in 2011 Outside hitters Rachael Goss (2.48) and Kelsey Newman (2.40) follow. Outside hitter Taylor Knox (1.96), middle blocker Christy Harper (1.74), middle blocker Jamie Armstrong (1.61) and outside hitter Landon Garvik (1.59) also contributed. Armstrong served up a team-best 28 aces and led the Colonials at the net with 0.92 blocks per set.

Libero Candace Silva-Martin returns after posting 4.90 digs per set in 2011. Whyte (2.07) and Goss (1.87) also managed more than a dig per set.

Prepping For Pittsburgh
At First Glance: The Pittsburgh Panthers bring a roster of 13 returning letterwinners, including five starters to the Mortar Board Premier. Pitt is coached by Toby Rens, who is in his fifth year with the team, which was picked to finish sixth in the Big East.

Last Time Out: The Panthers went 18-15 in 2011, including a 7-7 mark and eighth place finish in Big East play.

Statistically Speaking: Preseason All-Big East selection Monica Wignot is Pitt's top returning hitter, averaging 3.29 kills per set to with 1.86 digs per set and 42 aces. Outside hitter Jessica Wynn (2.48), outside/middle Mechael Guess (1.61), middle blocker Jasmine Dittrich (1.53), outside hitter Alex Phillips (1.20) and middle blocker Brenea White (1.19) also contributed offensively. White is the team's top returning blocker with 1.04 stuffs per set.

Libero Mary Acton paced the defense with 4.44 digs per set. Defensive specialist Delaney Clesen (2.53), setter Lindsey Zitzke (2.34) and outside hitter Alexa Campbell (2.15) also added more than two digs per set. Zitzke served up a team-best 53 aces, while Clesen, Campbell and Acton added 31, 26 and 21 respectively.

Poll Position
The Boilermakers are ranked No. 9 in the 2012 Preseason AVCA Coaches Poll, marking their starting listing in program history. This is Purdue's fifth-straight ranking among the Top 10, dating to Nov. 7, 2011; its longest stay there since 1983 (10 weeks: Sept. 26 to Nov. 28). The preseason ranking is Purdue's 115th all-time since the AVCA polls began in 1982, including preseason and postseason listings.

Preseason Predictions
The ninth-ranked Boilermaker volleyball team picked up another vote of confidence as the league coaches picked Purdue third in the preseason poll and senior outside hitter Ariel Turner was named as a unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten selection.

The Boilermakers were picked third behind 2011 Big Ten champion Nebraska and Penn State, which tied Purdue and Illinois for second place in the conference a year ago. Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State rounded out the coaches' preseason rankings.

For her part, Turner, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, was one of just two unanimous preseason selections along with Penn State junior outside hitter Deja McClendon. The first team All-American led the Big Ten and the Boilermakers with 4.84 kills per set and 5.46 points per set in 2011. She ranked third nationally in points and sixth in kills. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native, set a season record for hitting attempts with 1682, snapping Colleen DeMeyer's 1979 mark of 1512. Turner posted double-digit kills in 32 matches, including 20 or more nine times, and managed 17 double-doubles.

A Tough Slate
The Boilermakers face a challenging slate in 2012, including 15 matches against teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and 13 against teams ranked in the Preseason AVCA poll. Seven Big Ten teams were listed in the preseason Top 25: No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 7 Illinois, No. 9 Purdue, No. 16 Minnesota, No. 23 Michigan and No. 24 Ohio State.

Michigan State received votes, but landed outside the rankings. Boilermaker foes Louisville, Cincinnati and LSU also were listed among the preseason vote getters.

Mixing Youth and Experience
Of the 18 players on the 2012 roster, eight are entering their fourth or fifth year with the team. Redshirt senior Amanda Miller is going into her fifth year, while seniors Anna Drewry, Courtney Gosewisch and Ariel Turner and redshirt juniors Carly Cramer, Rachel Davis, Katie Griffin and Catherine Rebarchak are entering the fourth season as Boilermakers.

On the other end of the spectrum, Purdue has added six newcomers to the mix in 2012. Freshmen Faye Adelaja, Annie Drews, Sam Epenesa, Amanda Neill, Bridget Powell and Kate Workman make up the group, which was ranked as the 13th-best recruiting class in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.

Recognized Rookies
In addition to being collectively ranked as the 13th-best class in the nation, the Boilermaker rookies drew individual acclaim in 2011. Annie Drews, Sam Epensesa and Kate Workman all were AVCA/Under Armour High School All-Americans for 2011-12. Drews was a first team selection, Epenesa garnered second team acclaim and Workman was an honorable mention recipient.

Bridget Powell and Amanda Neill both were named to the All-America Watch List prior to their senior seasons. Neill went on to be the Journal and Courier's Big School Player of the Year after earning her third straight all-conference honor, while Powell garnered her third-straight all-conference honor.

Faye Adelaja was one of Prep Volleyball's 250 Senior Aces, and also garnered all-state, academic all-state and three all-district honors in her career. Epenesa was listed as the No. 33 player among PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces.

Drews and Epenesa were named as Fab 50 selections by Volleyball Magazine.

New Digs
As part of the $99 million Mackey Arena project, a volleyball lockerroom suite, featuring a kitchen, living room and study area; a film breakdown area, and coaches' lockerroom and lounge were added adjacent to Holloway Gymnasium. Previously, the team utilized facilities located on the lower level of Mackey Arena.

Approaching Career Win 200
The Boilermakers have posted a 191-108 record in nine seasons under head coach Dave Shondell. Under his watch, the program has become part of an elite group nationally. Purdue is one of 12 schools nationally to make seven NCAA appearances in the last eight seasons, advancing to at least the second round each time. In addition, the Boilermakers have made five Sweet 16 berths in the lat seven seasons, making the program one of just nine in the nation that can boast the accomplishment.

Under Shondell, Purdue has posted five 20-win seasons, including 29 victories in 2011, the program's highest total since 1985, and defeated 30 ranked foes. In 2011, the Boilermakers finished second in the Big Ten, its best conference placing since 1987. Shondell has coached four All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans. His charges also have earned 15 All-Big Ten and 55 Academic All-Big Ten accolades.

Aiding Shondell in leading Purdue are assistant coaches Kathy Jewell and John Shondell. The trio are the longest tenured complete staff in the Big Ten Conference.

Tracking The Boilermakers
Follow Purdue volleyball on the web with streaming video, live audio and live statistics on purduesports.com. Live statistics are available via the GameTracker feature, while free audio broadcasts are available by clicking the listen links on the schedule page. Streaming video is available for a monthly fee via the Purdue All-Access Pass.

Be a part of Purdue volleyball online via the social networking services Facebook and Twitter. Like Purdue Volleyball on Facebook. Follow the team on twitter at twitter.com/PurdueVB or Boilermaker coach Dave Shondell's tweets at twitter.com/daveshondell.