Game Notes 3: Big Ten/Big East Challenge

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM No. 11 Purdue takes its 5-1 record on the road to Cincinnati for a pair of matches against No. 24 Louisville and Cincinnati.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
No. 11 Purdue takes its 5-1 record on the road to Cincinnati for a pair of matches against No. 24 Louisville and Cincinnati.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -

Big Ten/Big East Challenge (Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati)
Tournament Central website
Friday, Sept. 7 - 7 p.m. vs. Louisville; Live stats: purduesports.com; Live audio: purduesports.com; WSHY 1410 AM

Saturday, Sept. 8 - 7 p.m. at Cincinnati; Live stats: purduesports.com; Live audio: purduesports.com; WSHY 1410 AM

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: The No. 11 Boilermakers (5-1) bring a two-game win streak into this weekend's Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Purdue returns 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: The Boilermakers went 2-1 at the Tiger Classic in Houston last weekend, falling to No. 12 Washington, but rebounding with wins over Rice and LSU. 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: Outside hitter Ariel Turner paces the Boilermakers with 4.06 kills and 2.47 digs per set, while also serving up a team-leading six aces. Outside hitters Val Nichol (2.25) and Catherine Rebarchak (2.13) follow, while freshman outside hitter Annie Drews (1.91) and middle blocker Kiki Jones (1.70) also contribute offensively. Drews is hitting a team-best .514 clip, while six others are hitting .250 or better.

Defensively, libero Carly Cramer has posted 4.40 digs per set, while Turner (2.47) and defensive specialist Amanda Miller (2.00) and Hilliary Fox (1.75) follow. Cramer and Miller also have added a team-best six aces apiece. At the net, middle blockers Kaisley Fisher and Anna Drewry and Jones paced the team with 1.33, 1.08 and 1.00 stuffs per set. Drewry also registers 1.54 kills per set. As a team, Purdue is hitting .272 with 31 aces.

All-American outside hitter Ariel Turner, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, paced the offense in 2011, 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 blocker 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
Louisville (Purdue leads the series 11-0): Purdue has won all 11 previous meetings with the Cardinals in the series which began on Oct. 11, 1977. The teams have played seven matches in recent history dating to the 2008 season. The Boilermakers and Cardinals played both regular season and NCAA Tournament matches in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Purdue is 7-0 at home, 2-0 in Louisville and 2-0 at a neutral location.

Cincinnati (Purdue leads the series 7-2): The Boilermakers have taken seven of the nine matches with the Bearcats in the series which began on Oct. 16, 1976. Purdue won the first contest and Cincinnati took the second. The Boilermakers won five straight from 1979 to 1980. Cincinnati swept Purdue in the 2010 Big Ten/Big East Challenge, in a contest which revived the series after nearly 30 years, but thre Boilermakers repaid the favor with a sweep of their own on Sept. 17, 2011 in Champaign, Ill.

What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top No. 24 Louisville on Friday ...

• They will have beaten their second ranked opponent of the season and 32nd under Coach Shondell.

• They will move to 12-0 all-time against Louisville, including an 8-0 mark since 2008.

• They will move to 4-1 all-time in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in its current four-team organization.

• They will improve to 262-144 all-time when playing in the month of September, including a 11-5-1 mark when playing on September 7.

Learning About Louisville
At First Glance: The No. 24 Louisville Cardinals (6-1) return eight letterwinners, including five starters, from the 2011 squad, which posted an 24-9 record, including a 13-1 mark in Big East play en route to the regular season title. The team advanced to the NCAA Second Round last year before being knocked out by Purdue. The Cardinals, which were the preseason pick to win the Big East, are coached by Anne Kordes, who is in her second year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Cardinals posted a 4-0 mark last week, beginning with a 3-1 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Wednesday. Louisville then downed Duke, Marshall and Samford at its own Cardinal Classic last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Reigning Big East Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova leads the Louisville offense with 4.64 kills and also adds 3.20 digs per set. Middle blocker Gwen Rucker, a Preseason All-Big East pick, follows with 2.64 kills per set, while middle blocker Brooke Mattingly (1.92) and outside hitter Kaitlynn James (1.76) also aid the offense.

Defensively, libero Caitlin Welch leads the way with 4.96 digs per set. Arslanbekova (3.20), setter Hannah Kvitle (1.80) and defensive specialist Haley Pouliezos (1.64) follow. Rucker leads the team at the net with 1.28 blocks per set and has served up a team-best seven aces, while outside hitter Tanya Lukyanenko adds 0.94 stuffs per set.

Chatting About Cincinnati
At First Glance: The Cincinnati Bearcats (1-6) are slated to face Western Kentucky on Tuesday before playing host to the Big Ten/Big East Challenge this weekend. The Bearcat roster features nine letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2011 team which posted a 27-10 mark, won the Big East Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA second round. Cincinnati, which was picked to finish fourth in the Big East, is coached by Molly Alvey, who is in her first season with the team.

Last Time Out: The Bearcats went 1-2 last weekend at the LaQuinta Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M., falling to New Mexico State and Northwestern, but rebounding with a sweep of Drake.

Statistically Speaking: Preseason All-Big East selection Jordanne Scott leads the way offensively with 4.11 kills per set. Outside hitter Megan Turner (2.67) and middle blockers Emily Hayden (1.95), Me'Ashah Nicholson (1.76) and Becca Refenes (1.48) follow. Turner is hitting at a team-best .323 clip, while Refenes leads UC at the net with 0.95 blocks per set.

In the backcourt, defensive specialist Emily Macintyre paces the team with 3.52 digs per set, followed by Karen Onuki (2.19) and Scott (2.00).

Poll Position
The Boilermakers fell four spots to No. 11 in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll. Last week, Purdue was ranked seventh, tying 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. This week's ranking is Purdue's 117th 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; its longest stay there since 1983 (eights straight polls: Sept. 26 to Nov. 28).

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.

Impacting The Record Books
With 69 kills thus far in 2012, senior outside hitter Ariel Turner has moved into ninth on the career kills list with 1420. She edged ahead of Kim McConaha's tally of 1,418 from 2001-04 for the ninth spot and is just 17 behind Lauri Grimes (1993-96). Turner also ranks among the career top 10 in total attempts with 4,130, third most in program history behind Danita Merlau (5,247) and Debbie McDonald (4,783).

The 30-Dig Club
Redshirt junior Carly Cramer pulled up a career-high tying 30 digs against Rice, Aug. 31, marking the 17th time in Purdue history a player has achieved the feat. It was the second time in Cramer's career she had reached 30 digs, matching her effort at Minnesota on Oct. 1, 2010. Cramer is the fifth player to achieve the feat twice, alongside Kelli Miller, Blair Bashen, Becky Kanitz and Anne Mastandrea. Cramer has totalled 881 digs in her Boilermaker career and should become the 15th Purdue to reach the 1,000 dig mark later this season.

Approaching Career Win 200
The Boilermakers have posted a 196-109 record in just over 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.