Wildcats, No. 6 Illini On Tap For Volleyball

Oct. 27, 2009

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker volleyball team kicks off the second half of the Big Ten at home against Northwestern and Illinois this weekend. Purdue welcomes the Wildcats to Belin Court Friday night, when youth under the age of 13 wearing costumes will receive candy. Saturday night, the Boilermakers will take on the No. 6 Fighting Illini. Patrons are encourage to come dressed in their best costumes. The first 1,000 fans also will receive the second set of volleyball trading cards.

Series Information
Northwestern (Purdue leads the series 44-23): Purdue took the first three meetings in the series which began on Oct. 28, 1977. The Wildcats answered with three of the next four, but the Boilermakers won seven straight from 1981 to 1983. The teams split the next eight meetings, before Purdue kicked off a string of 21 wins in 28 tries from 1987 to 2000. Northwestern won eight of the next 10, including five straight, but Purdue has taken six of the last seven meetings, sweeping the season series in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Northwestern won the Oct. 10 contest earlier this season.

Illinois (Illinois leads the series 38-32): The Illini won the first meeting in the series which began on Oct. 25, 1975, but Purdue took 18 of the next 20 from 1976 to 1984. Illinois won the majority of the next 38 meetings, posting 29 wins from 1985 to 2003. The Boilermakers took eight of the other nine contests in five-game wins. Since 2003, Purdue has won six of the last 11 including season sweeps in 2004 and 2006, but Illinois has taken the last four meetings.

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: Purdue (11-10, 3-7 Big Ten) looks to kick off the second half of Big Ten play on a positive note against Northwestern and Illinois this weekend. The Boilermaker squad features nine returning players, including three starters, and eight newcomers, collectively ranked as the eighth best recruiting class in the nation. Head coach Dave Shondell is in his seventh season with the team. The Boilermakers posted a 26-9 mark, a fourth-place Big Ten finish and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 a year ago.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers fell to Ohio State in four sets and were swept by No. 1 Penn State last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Carrie Gurnell paces the Purdue offense with 3.25 kills per set. Three other Boilermaker players add more than two kills per set. Outside hitter Ariel Turner (2.55), middle blocker Tiffany Fisher (2.55) and Kristen Arthurs (2.24) make up the trio. Fisher is hitting at a team-best .386 clip while adding 0.73 blocks per set, while Arthurs is hitting .276 with 0.85 blocks per set. Turner has added eight aces.

Defensively, libero Blair Bashen leads the way with 3.70 digs per set and 18 aces. Defensive specialist Emily Ehlers has accounted for 2.29 digs per set and six aces. Junior setter Jaclyn Hart adds 1.72 digs per set, while also dishing out 10.17 assists per set.

Notes About Northwestern
At First Glance: The Northwestern Wildcats (11-11, 2-8 Big Ten) look to snap a four-match losing streak when they take on the Boilermakers on Friday. The Wildcat roster features eight returning players, including six starters, and three newcomers. Northwestern went 8-23 in 2008, including an 11th-place Big Ten finish. Head coach Keylor Chan is in his 10th year with the team.

Last Time Out: Northwestern fell to Iowa and Wisconsin on the road last weekend. The Wildcats lost to the Hawkeyes in three sets and to the Badgers in four sets.

Statistically Speaking:
Middle blocker Sabel Moffett leads a group of four players averaging more than two kills per set. Moffett has posted 3.39 kills per set on a team-best .390 hitting percentage, while also leading the team in blocks with 1.38 per set. Middle blocker Naomi Johnson (2.59), outside hitter Ariel Baxterbeck (2.13) and outside hitter Madalyn Shalter (2.07) round out the group. Johnson is hitting .300 on the year, while also serving up a team-best 16 aces. Baxterbeck and Shalter also aid the team defensively, posting 2.49 and 2.23 digs per set respectively.

Libero Kate Nobilio paces the Wildcat defense with 4.56 digs per set. Baxterbeck and Shalter follow, while setter Elyse Glab adds 2.09 digs per set and dishes out 10.20 assists per set.

Facts About The Fighting Illini
At First Glance: The No. 6 Illinois Fighting Illini (10-3, 2-2 Big Ten) will put their seven-match win streak on the line when they take on Indiana on Friday. The Illini roster features 11 returning players, including seven starters, and four newcomers. Illinois went 26-8 in 2008, including a third-place Big Ten finish and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. Head coach Kevin Hambly is in his first season at the helm of the team, after spending five seasons as an assistant coach.

Last Time Out: Illinois downed Wisconsin in four sets and swept Iowa on the road last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Laura DeBruler paces the Illini offense with 4.52 kills per set on a .298 hitting effort, while also serving up a 14 aces and accounting for 2.78 digs per set. Outside/middle hitter Michelle Bartsch (3.21) and outside hitter Kylie McCulley (3.07) also aid the offense. McCulley has served up a team-best 16 aces and adds 2.49 digs per set, while Bartch has put up 1.15 blocks per set, second most on the team.

Defensively, libero Ashley Edinger has pulled up 4.16 digs per set to lead the team. DeBruler (2.78), McCulley (2.49) and Bartsch (2.28) also add more than two digs per set. Setter Hillary Haen has tallied 2.09 digs per set, while dishing out 11.55 assists per set. At the net, middle blocker Johannah Bangert has put up a team-leading 1.67 blocks per set, followed by Bartsch (1.15).

Comparing the Teams

Statistic    Purdue     Northwestern     Illinois
Hit. %       .221       .227             .241
Kills        12.96      12.30            13.64
Assists      11.89      11.48            13.03
Aces         0.75       0.96             0.99
Blocks       2.11       2.55             2.80
Digs         12.98      14.38            14.81

What a Difference a Win Makes...

If the Boilermakers top Northwestern on Friday ...

• They will move to 12-10 on the season and snap a two-match losing streak.

• They will earn their seventh win over the Wildcats in the last eight contests and boost their series lead to 45-23.

• They will move to 246-182-1 all time when playing in October, including a 4-5 mark on Oct. 30.

Sophomore middle blocker Tiffany Fisher has been the most efficient Boilermaker in 2009, posting a .386 hitting percentage. The mark puts her among the top five in the Big Ten and among the Top 20 nationally. She has registered a hitting percentage of .300 or better in 14 matches this season, including five efforts of .500 or better.

A Balanced Offense
Four Boilermakers are averaging two or more kills per set. Each has led the Purdue offense at least once in the team's 21 contests. Senior outside hitter Carrie Gurnell has paced the team 12 times, while posting double-digit kill tallies in 18 matches. Freshman outside hitter Ariel Turner has led the offense four times and has tallied 10 or more kills in 12 matches. Sophomore middle blocker Tiffany Fisher has led the team four times, while posting 10 double-digit efforts. Junior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs has posted a team-best kill tally twice, while reaching double-digits on eight occasions.

Against the Top 25
The Boilermakers were slated to face six ranked teams in 2009, based on the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll. No. 1 Penn State, No. 10 Illinois, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 16 Michigan, No. 21 Kentucky and No. 22 Kansas State made up the group. However, Purdue has faced off with seven ranked foes in 2009. Saturday's match with No. 6 Illinois will mark the eighth match the team has played against a ranked opponent this season.

During the Dave Shondell era, Purdue has beaten 15 Top 25 teams, including three Top 10 opponents. The Boilermakers posted wins over No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 9 Minnesota in 2005 and a victory over No. 9 Colorado State in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Purdue owns a 53-165 all-time record in matches against the Top 25.

Fountain Of Youth
The Boilermaker roster features 17 players, 12 of which are either freshmen or sophomores by eligibility. Eight freshmen, three sophomores and a redshirt sophomore make up the group. Despite a lack of collegiate experience, those young players are making an impact on the Purdue squad.

At least one freshman has started in 14 of Purdue's 19 matches, including the last 10 matches, in which two rookies were among the starters. Three freshmen graced the starting seven against Wisconsin on Oct. 16. Defensive specialist Carly Cramer has been among the starting seven in each of the last 11 matches, while outside/middle hitter Anna Drewry has started nine of the last 10. Outside hitter Ariel Turner has made five starts.

Despite the youth movement, the Boilermaker lineup by match has included three mainstays. Senior outside hitter Carrie Gurnell, junior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs and sophomore middle blocker Tiffany Fisher have been among the starting seven in all 19 matches. Junior setter Jaclyn Hart has started 18 matches.

Going The Distance
The Purdue volleyball team has played eight five-set matches so far in 2009. The Boilermakers are 2-6 in those contests. However, three of the losses have come by just two points, via a 15-13 score in the final stanza. Purdue is no stranger to five-set matches, playing in 12 lengthy matches in 2008, posting an 11-1 mark in those contests. Under head coach Dave Shondell, the Boilermakers have posted a 28-20 record in five-set matches. In Purdue lore, the teams boast a 126-79 mark in contests lasting five sets.

Small Screen Stars
The Boilermaker volleyball team is set to play five televised matches in 2009, four on the Big Ten Network and one on ESPN2.

Sept. 30 - vs. Indiana, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network, LIVE

Oct. 9 - at Illinois, 8 p.m., ESPN2, Tape Delayed until 1 p.m. on Oct. 11

Oct. 24 - at Penn State, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network, Tape Delayed until 8 p.m. on Oct. 25

Nov. 4 - at Indiana, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network, LIVE

Nov. 8 - at Minnesota, 2 p.m., Big Ten Network, LIVE and again at 8 p.m.

Rookie Raves (Part 1)
Outside hitter Ariel Turner became the first Purdue rookie to earn Big Ten Volleyball Freshman of the Week honors on Monday. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native shared the weekly accolade, which is new this season, with Ohio State's Emily Danks.

Turner averaged 3.50 kills per set on a .302 hitting effort this weekend, while also contributing defensively with 1.7 digs per set. Against Ohio, she posted 10 kills and three digs, before wrapping up the weekend with 11-kills and seven digs against Louisville. Turner also added a service ace and three blocks as Purdue swept its opponents at the Active Ankle Challenge.

The Freshman of the Week honor is the first of Turner's career and the first weekly accolade for a Purdue player since middle blocker Stephanie Lynch garnered Defensive Player of the Week honors on Dec. 1, 2008.

Rookie Raves (Part 2)
Boilermaker outside hitter Ariel Turner was honored for her stellar efforts against Wisconsin and Iowa with Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on Oct. 19. Turner paced the Boilermakers with 4.71 kills per set, while hitting a .429 clip. The rookie also contributed 2.00 digs per set and 0.71 blocks per set and two service aces.

Turner started the weekend with a career and match high 22 putaways against Wisconsin, while hitting .476. She posted 18 kills in the final three sets leading Purdue to the come-from-behind win, including eight in the 25-21 final set win. She narrowly missed a double double by adding eight digs and four blocks. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native wrapped up the weekend putting down a match-high 11 kills at a .357 clip, while adding six digs and a block.

The Freshman of the Week accolade is the second of the season for the rookie, who also garnered the honor on Sept. 21.

Perfect 10
Middle blocker Kristen Arthurs joined elite company as she tied the Purdue, Big Ten and NCAA records with a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage vs. Ball State on Friday. The junior tallied 10 kills on 10 swings in the match, making her one of just four conference players and one of just 23 players in NCAA Division I history to achieve the distinction of a 1.000 hitting mark.

Purdue now boasts two of the 22 players, as Debbie McDonald went 13-for-13 at North Carolina State on Sept. 25, 1987. Stanford is the only other school with two players on the record list.

Triple Play
Junior setter Jaclyn Hart became the 14th Boilermaker in program history and first since 2005 to post a triple-double when she tallied 12 kills, 41 assists and 10 digs against UCF on Sept. 5. The last Boilermaker to achieve the feat was setter Renata Dargan, who tallied 13 kills, 61 assists and 13 digs against No. 8 Wisconsin on Sept. 30, 2005.

After just over two seasons directing the Purdue offense, setter Jaclyn Hart is already among those in the career record books, ranking ninth in assists with 2,586. The sophomore racked up 1343 assists in 2008, while also adding 124 kills (0.91 per set), 239 digs (1.76 per set) and 98 blocks (0.72 per set).

Purdue Volleyball Celebrates 35 Years
The 2009 season is the 35th in the history of the Boilermaker volleyball program. The Purdue program, which began in 1975, has accumulated 682 wins and four Big Ten Championships. The Boilermakers have made 12 NCAA Tournament and two AIAW National Tournament appearances. Seven Purdue players have combined to earn 19 All-America honors, while six players have been named as Academic All-Americans.

One hundred and fifty-one players have donned the Old Gold and Black in program history, while four coaches have guided the program on its journey. Four members of the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame also are affiliated with Boilermaker volleyball: Jane (Neff) Myers (inducted in 1994), Marianne (Smith) Orr (inducted in 1999), head coach Carol Dewey and Debbie McDonald (both inducted in 2003).

Preseason Picks
Junior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs was among 14 players named to the Preseason All-Big Ten volleyball listing on Thursday, as voted on by the conference's coaches.

Arthurs, an honorable mention All-Mideast Region selection in 2008, started all 35 matches for Purdue last season, averaging 2.12 kills per set, while hitting .338 and tallying 0.84 blocks per set. The Newport, Mich., native posted double-digit kills on 13 occasions and ranked ninth in the conference for hitting percentage, including a .344 effort in Big Ten, which ranked seventh among league players. Arthurs recorded a hitting percentage of .300 or better 19 times, including .400 or better 17 times and .500 or better 12 times. She also tallied a career high .733 hitting percentage in three sets against Louisville last year.

Arthurs' selection marks the sixth-straight year Purdue has had a preseason All-Big Ten honoree. Setter Renata Dargan earned the nod in 2004 and 2005, while middle blocker Stephanie Lynch garnered the honor in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

As a team, the Boilermakers were picked to finish sixth by the league coaches. The Big Ten's coaches elected to vote only on the conference's top six teams beginning this year. Those top six squads combined to produce 12 players on the 14-member Preseason All-Big Ten team, led by Penn State's four honorees.

Quiet Experience
The Boilermaker roster features nine returning players, many of which have flown under the radar the last few seasons. Head coach Dave Shondell said that he sees the fact as an advantage for his team. "One of the major things we have going for us is that we have a lot of players that have been in the shadows or been role players for a year or two. Now is their chance, their opportunity to step forward and lead Purdue volleyball."

Junior middle blocker Kristen Arthurs is the most decorated of the returners, having garnered honorable mention All-Mideast honors in 2008. Arthurs will be stepping out from behind graduated All-American Stephanie Lynch. Outside hitters Lisa Pierce and Carrie Gurnell each bring three years of experience to the court.

Fabulous Freshmen
Eight highly-touted and talented newcomers will vie for spots on the court in 2009. The freshman class, which was ranked as the eighth best in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, features six players that were listed among the website's Top 250 Senior Aces, as well as three Fab 50 players.

The new Boilermakers have received several honors as prepsters. Middle blocker Anna Drewry, outside hitter Katie Griffin and outside hitter Ariel Turner were among Volleyball Magazine's Fab50.

Setter Rachel Davis, defensive specialist Courtney Gosewisch and middle hitter/outside hitter Catherine Rebarchak along with Drewry, Griffin and Turner were listed among prepvolleyball.com's Top 250 Senior Aces, including three in the Top 35. Gosewisch and defensive specialist Carly Cramer also were named to the site's Defensive Dandies list as juniors.

Drewry was one of 24 players named as an Under Armour First Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Meanwhile, Lee was one of 40 players that garnered Academic All-America honors from PrepVolleyball.com. The listing, which boasts "the best of the best at combining big brains and athletic brawn", was split into five teams of eight, with Lee earning second team accolades.

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. Join the Official Purdue Volleyball group on Facebook, or follow Boilermaker coach Dave Shondell's tweets at twitter.com/PurdueVB.




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