Volleyball To Open Season vs. No. 4 USC, Host Mortar Board Premier

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM The Boilermakers begin their quest for another NCAA Tournament run as they face No. 4 USC Friday night to start the 2013 season.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
The Boilermakers begin their quest for another NCAA Tournament run as they face No. 4 USC Friday night to start the 2013 season.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Aug 27, 2013

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The Slate
Mortar Board Premier
Belin Court at Holloway Gymnasium; West Lafayette, Ind.

Tournament central: here
Live Stats (ALL) - purduesports.com
Radio - purduesports.com; WSHY 1410 AM
TV - BTN.com (Fri); purduesports.com (Sat.)

Friday, Aug. 30:
4 p.m. Alabama A&M vs. #21 Western Kentucky
7 p.m. #4 USC vs. #16 Purdue

Saturday, Aug. 31:
10 a.m. Alabama A&M vs. #16 Purdue
Noon #21 Western Kentucky vs. #4 USC
5 p.m. #21 Western Kentucky vs. #16 Purdue
7:30 p.m. USC vs. Alabama A&M

Promotions
Friday: Block Party tailgate/callout - 5 p.m. Come by and have some pizza, get your student section T-shirt and get geared up to cheer on the Boilers at 7 p.m. vs. USC.
$2 group rate tickets for all summer camp attendees
$2 admission for youth volleyball teams who register in advance (email sportspromo@purdue.edu)

Saturday: $2 admission for youth volleyball teams who register in advance (email sportspromo@purdue.edu)

The Mortar Board Premier
The annual Mortar Board Premier tournament began in 1990 under the name Mortar Board Volleyball Invitational tournament. It has been played every year since with the exception of 2001, when it was cancelled due to the 9/11 tragedy. Twelve different teams have captured the event title. Purdue has won the tournament nine times, including 2011 and 2012, while Dayton and Miami (Ohio) each have taken two titles over the years.

The tournament is sponsored by Mortar Board, which is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Mortar Board members represent the top scholars and leaders on their campuses. Since its founding in 1926, Purdue's chapter of Mortar Board has awarded over a million dollars in fellowships and awards to Purdue students, staff and student organizations. The money for these awards comes largely from the annual sale of a calendar, appropriately called the Mortar Board and recognized by virtually every Purdue student and alum.

Mortar Board will recognize student-athletes from all four teams for their scholarship and service accomplishments after each team's match on Friday evening.

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: The No. 16 Boilermakers (23-11, 12-8 Big Ten) made the program's eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last nine seasons and sixth Sweet 16 showing in the last eight seasons in 2012. The team, which finished fifth in Big Ten play, ended the season in the Sweet 16 at their own West Lafayette Regional. Purdue's roster features 11 returning players, including five starters, from that team as well as three redshirt freshmen and one true freshman. Head coach Dave Shondell is in his 11th season with the team.

Last Time Out: Purdue advanced to the Sweet 16 after sweeping Colorado State in the NCAA first round and posting a five-set win over No. 12 Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. The Boilermakers fell to No. 11 Minnesota in the Sweet 16 to end the season.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitters Catherine Rebarchak (2.20) and Annie Drews (2.14), middle blocker KiKi Jones (1.86) and outside hitter Val Nichol (1.72) will carry the offensive load for the Boilers. Jones hit at a team-best .360 clip, served up 12 aces and put up 0.95 blocks per set. Defensively, libero Carly Cramer posted 4.23 digs per set, while setter Rachel Davis (2.34), and defensive specialists Amanda Neill (2.23) and Hilliary Fox (1.95) followed. Cramer served up a team-leading 36 aces, while Neill added 13. As a team, Purdue hit .244 and served up 129 aces.

Series Information
USC (USC leads the series 4-0): The Trojans have won all four previous meetings with the Boilermakers in the series which dates to a Dec. 9, 1978 contest at the AIAW National Tournament. The team met again in the 1982 NCAA Tournament and also played during the 2006 and 2007 non-conference seasons.

Alabama A&M: This is the first meeting between the Boilermakers and the Bulldogs.

Western Kentucky (WKU leads the series 2-1): The Lady Topper won the first two meetings in the series, which began at the Louisville Classic on Sept. 16, 1994. WKU won a five-set decision at the 2002 Mortar Board Premier, but Purdue took the most recent meeting via a 3-0 sweep on Aug. 27, 2010 at the Mortar Board Premier.

What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top No. 4 USC on Friday:
• They will have won their season opener for the 12th straight year.
• They will move to 31-8 all-time in home openers, including a 10-1 mark in the Shondell era.
• They will move to 52-17 all-time in Mortar Board Premier matches.
• They will have beaten a ranked opponent to start a season for the third time in program history. Purdue beat No. 20 Kentucky at the Mortar Board Premier to kick off the 1994 season and No. 21 Northern Iowa to begin 2012.
• They will record their 36th win over a ranked foe under head coach Dave Shondell.
• They will improve to 34-10 all-time when playing in the month of August, including a 9-3 mark when playing on August 30.

Talking About the Women of Troy
At First Glance: The No. 4 USC Women of Troy (30-6, 15-5 Pac-12) open the 2013 season against the No. 16 Boilermakers after a 2012 season which saw the team advance to the NCAA Elite Eight and post a third-place finish in Pac-12 play. USC returns nine letterwinners, including six starters and its libero from that team, while adding six newcomers to the mix. The Women of Troy are coached by Mick Haley, who is in his 13th year with the team.

Last Time Out: USC advanced to the Elite Eight in 2012 before falling to Texas 3-0 to end the season. The Women of Troy have advanced to the NCAA second round or farther each of the last nine seasons, including four Final Four appearances, one Sweet 16 and one Elite Eight.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Samantha Bricio, the 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, headlines the offense, while first team All-American and Pac-12 Libero of the Year Natalie Hagglund holds down the back court. Bricio put down 4.06 kills per set in 2012, while also adding a team-best 43 aces and 2.39 digs per set. Outside hitter Sara Shaw (2.87) and middle blocker Alexis Olgard (2.06) also return after averaging more than two kills per set. Shaw also chipped in 27 aces and 2.79 digs per set, while Olgard hit at a team-best .394 clip and put up a team-high 0.95 blocks per set.

Hagglund shouldered most of the defensive load with 5.02 digs pers et, while Shaw (2.79), Bricio (2.39) and setter Hayley Crone (2.19) also aided the team. Crone also dished out 11.05 assists per set and served up 31 aces. As a team, USC outhit opponents .264 to .182 and served up 155 aces, while allowing just 93.

All About Alabama A&M
At First Glance: The Alabama A&M Lady Bulldogs (12-20, 6-2 SWAC) will open the season and the Mortar Board Premier against No. 21 Western Kentucky. The Lady Bulldogs return eight letterwinners from the 2012 team which finished second in the SWAC eastern division. AAMU is coached by Nedra Brown, who is in her seventh year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Lady Bulldogs advanced to the finals of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament but fell to Jackson State to wrap up the season. The finals appearance was the team's 12 in the last 13 years.

Statistically Speaking: Alabama A&M returns first team All-SWAC setter Ashley Forman, but must replace its top three kill producers from a year ago. Middle blocker Leslie Ekpe is the top returning player on offense, after averaging 1.62 kills per set in 2012. She also led the team with 91 blocks. Outside hitter Kyanna Sales chipped in 1.40 kills and 1.47 digs per set last season.

Forman led the Lady Bulldogs defensively in 2012 with 2.41 digs per set, while libero Rebecca Cortez pulled up 2.29 digs per stanza last season. Forman also served up 21 aces and dished out 9.13 assists per set. As a team, Alabama A&M hit at a .197 clip and served up 135 aces.

Words About Western Kentucky
At First Glance: The No. 21 Western Kentucky Lady Toppers (33-4, 15-0 Sun Belt) are the preseason favorite in the Sun Belt Conference after coming off an NCAA Tournament second round appearance and Sun Belt Conference title in 2012. WKU returns 10 letterwinners, including four starters and the libero, from that team, and adds two newcomers to the roster. The Lady Toppers are coached by Travis Hudson, who is in his 19th year with the team.

Last Time Out: Western Kentucky won the Sun Belt title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round with a win over Loyola Marymount, before falling to No. 2 Stanford.

Statistically Speaking: WKU returns three of its top four hitters from a year ago in middle blocker Heather Boyan (2.81) and outside hitter Paige Wessel (2.56) and Haley Bodway (2.33), but must replace Jordyn Skinner's 2.94 kills and 2.78 digs per set. Boyan hit at a team-best .383 clip and chalked up a team-high 0.87 blocks in 2012, while Wessel hit .376 for the season.

Setter Melanie Stutsman was picked as the preseason setter of the year for the Sun Belt after dishing out 11.2 assists, adding 2.12 digs per set and serving up 22 aces in 2012, while libero Ashley Potts was tabbed as the SBC preseason defensive player of the year after leading WKU with 4.72 digs per set and adding 22 aces. The team hit at a .296 clip, while the defense held foes to a .146 percentage.

Poll Position
The Boilermakers moved down one spot to No. 16 in the 2013 Preseason AVCA poll after wrapping up 2012 at No. 15. Purdue was ranked in the Top 25 throughout the 2012 season and has been ranked in 33 consecutive polls dating to Nov. 29, 2010.

On August 27, 2012, the team was ranked seventh, a listing which tied the highest ranking in program history, matching the No. 7 listing from Nov. 14, 1983. Purdue was ranked No. 9 in the 2012 Preseason AVCA Coaches Poll, marking their highest starting listing in program history.

The 2013 preseason ranking is Purdue's 130th all-time since the AVCA polls began in 1982, including preseason and postseason listings.

Purdue was listed among the Top 10 in six straight polls from Nov. 7, 2011, to Aug. 27, 2012, ­­- its longest stay there since 1983 (eight straight polls: Sept. 26 to Nov. 28).

A Tough Slate
The Boilermakers will take on eight teams ranked in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll and will play 10 matches against teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Purdue starts 2013 with a bang, facing No. 4 USC and No. 21 Western Kentucky opening weekend. Purdue also will face off with Notre Dame, which received votes in the poll. Six other Big Ten teams are listed in the preseason poll.