Nov. 10, 2005
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue volleyball team will face off with a pair of Top 20 teams this weekend when No. 3 Penn State and No. 19 Ohio State come to the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility. The Boilermakers (21-4, 10-4 Big Ten) are looking to even the season series with both teams, while also achieving the team's highest win total since 1987.
Both of this weekend's matches will be broadcast live on WLAS 1410 AM and purduesports.com. Broadcasts can be accessed by clicking on the Listen link next to each match on the schedule located on the front page of purduesports.com or on the volleyball schedule page. Live stats also will be available for both matches. Live statistics can be accessed by clicking on the GameTracker link in the same locations listed above.
Nov. 11 Spirit Night: Come ready to show us who is the loudest, craziest and best dressed Boilermaker at the game. Adopt-A-Sport Night: Prizes for the loudest, craziest dressed Adopt-A-Sport group in attendance. Show us who our best fans really are! Purdue Dance Team autographs after the match.
Nov. 12 Volleyball Team Night: Bring your whole team to the match and show the Boilermakers which team has the most spirit. Volleyball team autographs after the match.
Penn State (PSU leads the series 33-5): The series with the Nittany Lions began on Nov. 7, 1981 with a 2-0 Penn State victory at the Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Purdue then took the next five meetings, two in University Park, two in West Lafayette and one in Louisville, Ky. from 1982 to 1987. Since then, PSU has won the last 32 meetings, 27 of them in 3-0 sweeps. Purdue took two games from PSU for the first time since 1984, when the teams met on Sept. 23.
Ohio State (OSU leads the series 38-26): The series began with a 2-1 Buckeye victory on Oct. 31, 1975, and stood at 7-6 Ohio State after the first 13 meetings. Purdue then won 17 of the next 20 matches including an eight-match streak from Nov. 21, 1980 to Nov. 4, 1983. Since then, Ohio State has won 26 of the last 29 meetings. The teams split the 2003 contests, then the Buckeyes swept Purdue in 2004 and won the Sept. 24 meeting this year.
A Look at the Boilermakers
No. 14 Purdue brings a 21-4 record, including a 10-4 Big Ten mark, into the week after splitting matches with Northwestern and No. 10 Wisconsin last week. The Boilermakers fell to the Wildcats in five, but rebounded with a 3-1 win over the Badgers.
Freshman left side hitter Danita Merlau leads a group of five players averaging more than two kills per game. Merlau is putting down 3.59 kills per game, while sophomore outside hitter Sam Mader (3.03), freshman middle hitter Stephanie Lynch (2.89), sophomore middle hitter Lizzie Jacques (2.13) and freshman defensive specialist/outside hitter Kelli Miller (2.06) are not far behind. Lynch leads all hitters with a .341 hitting percentage, while also posting a team-best 1.39 blocks per game. Jacques boasts a .276 hitting percentage to go with a 1.21 blocks per game average and 18 aces.
Senior setter Renata Dargan has dished out 13.20 assists per game, while also tallying 1.52 kills per game of her own on a .353 hitting percentage and 1.72 digs per game. Sophomore libero Annie Mastandrea leads the Purdue backcourt players, pulling up an average of 5.16 digs per game. The libero has led the Boilermakers in digs in 22 of their 25 contests, including 10 20-plus dig efforts. In addition to putting down 2.06 kills per game, Miller has tallied 3.29 digs per game in the back court. Junior defensive specialist Brittany Dildine has pulled up 2.60 digs per stanza.
The Boilermakers have served up 136 aces thus far in 2005, led by Dildine's tally of 34. Ten different players have served up at least one ace, while six have reached double-digit ace tallies.
Notes about the Nittany Lions
No. 3 Penn State (23-2, 14-0 Big Ten) enters the week after sweeping No. 19 Ohio State and Indiana last weekend. The Nittany Lions have won 17 straight matches dating to Sept. 16. All but two of those victories, have come via 3-0 sweep.
Freshman outside hitter Nicole Fawcett leads a group of five hitters that are averaging more than two kills per game for the Nittany Lions. Fawcett has put down 4.44 kills per game on a .292 hitting percentage. She also has pulled up 1.82 digs per game and accounted for 0.84 blocks per stanza. Freshman middle hitter Christa Harmotto follows with 2.96 kills per game and boasts a .359 hitting percentage. Harmotto also leads the team in blocks with 1.45 per game. Sophomore outside hitter Kate Price (2.75), junior middle hitter Cassy Salyer (2.65) and sophomore middle hitter Melissa Walbridge (2.49) round out the group. Walbridge owns a team-best .397 hitting percentage to go with 1.39 blocks per game and 18 aces. Price has served up 15 aces and pulled up 2.06 digs per game in addition to her kill tally.
Senior setter Sam Tortorello also is a multidimensional threat for the Nittany Lions. The setter has handed out 13.41 assists per game, while posting 2.65 digs per game and serving up a team-best 21 aces. Senior libero Kaleena Walters leads PSU's defensive effort with 4.98 digs per game. Tortorello follows with 2.65 per game, while Price (2.06) also tallies more than 2.00 digs per game. The Nittany Lions are averaging 3.48 blocks per game. Penn State is coached by Russ Rose, who is in his 27th year with the team.
An Outlook on Ohio State
The No. 19 Ohio State Buckeyes (16-7, 9-5 Big Ten) enter the week after splitting matches with No. 4 Penn State and Indiana last week. The Buckeyes fell to the Nittany Lions (3-0), but rebounded with a 3-1 win over the Hoosiers.
Sophomore middle hitter Danielle Meyer leads the Buckeye offense, averaging 4.84 kills per game on a .294 hitting percentage. She also adds 2.56 digs and 0.95 blocks per game and 25 aces to the team's totals. Sophomore outside hitter Ami Stevens follows with 3.50 kills per game and a .233 hitting percentage, to go with a team-best 2.96 digs per game. Sophomore middle hitter Nicole Britenriker (2.76), junior setter Marisa Main (2.01) and senior outside hitter Amanda Miller (2.00) also are averaging more than 2.00 kills per game, while junior outside hitter Ashley Kiel follows with 1.79. Kiel also has served up a team-best 32 aces and pulled up 2.42 digs per game.
Main is averaging 2.01 kills and 2.35 digs per game in addition to handing out 12.65 assists per stanza. Stevens leads the OSU defense with 3.96 digs per game, while also serving up 20 aces. Meyer (2.56), Kiel (2.42), Main (2.35) and sophomore defensive specialist Brittany Dahms (2.16) follow. Meyer also leads the team's blocking front with 0.95 stuffs per game. The Buckeyes are coached by Jim Stone, who is in his 24th year with the team.
Sizing Up the Opposition
Category Purdue Penn State Ohio State
Hitting % .259 .300 .256
Kills 16.69 16.43 17.02
Assists 15.23 15.27 15.47
Aces 1.56 1.28 1.45
Blocks 2.94 3.48 1.96
Digs 16.97 15.86 15.60
What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top Penn State on Friday...
They will garner their 22nd win of the season, marking the most victories for Purdue since 1987, when the team posted a 24-14 overall record.
They will have posted their first win over Penn State since Dec. 4, 1987, snapping a 32 match series win streak for the Nittany Lions.
They will have garnered Purdue's first win over a Top 5 opponent in program history.
They will have beaten their third Top 10 team of the season, marking the first time Purdue has done so since 1983, when the team topped No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Cal Poly, No. 8 Nebraska and No. 10 Texas.
Rank And File
The Boilermakers are ranked 14th in this week's CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll. Purdue moved into its highest poll position since the final poll of 1985, in which the team was ranked 10th. The Boilermakers entered the Top 25 at No. 19 on Sept. 19. Since rankings began in 1982, Purdue has been ranked 55 times, including preseason and postseason listings.
Purdue has been ranked among the nation's Top 25 for eight straight weeks, marking the first time the Boilermakers have achieved that feat since 1985. The 1985 squad was ranked for nine-straight weeks beginning with the Oct. 1 poll and lasting through the final poll on Nov. 26, 1985.
Purdue has been mentioned in the 2005 CSTV/AVCA listings since the preseason poll came out.
Among the Nation
The Boilermaker team and one individual rank among the nation's top 30 in several different statistical categories. Senior setter Renata Dargan ranks 16th nationally with 13.20 assists per game. The Boilermaker team also owns five spots in the national top 30, including a 24th place ranking in overall win/loss percentage at .840. Purdue ranks 13th in kills per game (16.69), 19th in assists per game (15.23), 28th in blocks per game (2.94) and 29th in hitting percentage (.259). The aforementioned statistical rankings include matches through Nov. 6
In the Big Ten
The Boilermakers not only rank among the top of the nation, but also among the top of the Big Ten in statistical listings. Senior setter Renata Dargan ranks second in assists per game (13.20) and fourth in hitting percentage (.358). Junior defensive specialist Brittany Dildine ranks third in aces with 0.39 aces per game (34 in 87 games), while junior Melanie Ukovich ranks sixth (0.37). Sophomore libero Anne Mastandrea is fourth in digs per game (5.16), while freshman left side hitter/defensive specialist Kelli Miller ranks 10th (3.29). Freshman middle hitter Stephanie Lynch ranks fourth in blocks per game (1.49) and fifth in hitting percentage (.341), while sophomore middle hitter Lizzie Jacques is ninth with 1.21 stuffs per game. Freshman left side hitter Danita Merlau is eighth in kills per game (3.59).
As a team, Purdue leads the Big Ten in digs per game (16.97) and aces per game (1.56). The Boilermakers also rank second in the conference in kills per game (16.69) and hitting percentage (.259), and third in assists per game (15.23) and blocks per game (2.94).
In Big Ten only statistics, Dildine is third in aces per game (0.37), while Dargan ranks fourth in assists per game (12.98). Lynch is fourth in blocks per game (1.45) and sixth in hitting percentage (.360). Merlau ranks fifth in kills per game (3.80), while Mastandrea sits sixth in digs per game (5.12). Jacques is ninth in blocks per game (1.16).
In the team rankings, the Boilermakers are second in the league in digs per game (16.96) and third in kills per game (16.39), hitting percentage (.238) and blocks per game (3.10). Purdue also is fourth in assists per game (14.98) and aces per game (1.33).
Sophomore libero Annie Mastandrea became the second Purdue player to garner Big Ten Player of the Week honors this season as she was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10. Mastandrea averaged 6.83 digs per game over the weekend, while also adding 0.50 assists per game and making good on 98 percent of her serve receive attempts. Mastandrea has now led the Boilermakers in digs in 19 of the team's 21 matches, including eight 20-plus dig totals. Her 22 digs against Michigan, is the fourth-best 3-game match tally in Purdue history.
Packing the Stands
The Purdue volleyball team hosted a Pack Mackey promotion, offering one dollar tickets to its Oct. 2 match against Northwestern, in hopes of achieving a new NCAA attendance record. The team fell short of its goal, but packed 8,512 fans into Mackey Arena, the second most in Purdue volleyball history. The total was second only to the original Pack Mackey event, which brought in 10,645 fans on Oct. 29, 1985.
The Oct. 2 match attendance of 8,512 marks the fifth largest crowd to see a collegiate volleyball match this season. The Boilermakers now rank ninth on the national attendance average list with an average of 2,265 fans at their 11 home matches.
Twice Is Nice
Senior setter Renata Dargan became the first Purdue volleyball player to ever earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors twice in the same season, when she was so honored on Sept. 12. The New Lenox, Ill., native has garnered MVP honors at each of the Boilermakers' two tournament appearances and followed them up with Big Ten accolades each time. The first came on Sept. 6, then the second followed on Sept. 12. Her back-to-back honors also mark the first time Purdue has won two straight weekly accolades since November 6-13, 1990. The last time Purdue took back-to-back Player of the Week honors was during the weeks of Nov. 6 and Nov. 13, 1990, when Jill Whiteman and Kelly Niedbalski garnered the accolades.
Senior Renata Dargan broke the Purdue career assists record during Game 1 of the Boilermakers' Sept. 7 match with Butler. Dargan was just nine assists shy of the record going into the match, and ended the night with 38, to up the record tally to 4,613. She crossed the 5,000 assists mark against No. 8 Wisconsin on Sept. 30, and bumped her career total to 5,505 over the weekend. Her tally against Butler moved Dargan in front of previous record holder Taryn Catlin, who dished out 4,584 assists from 1996-99.
The court director, who has averaged 12.32 assists per game in her career, surpassed both the 3,000 and 4,000-assist milestones in 2004. Dargan became just the fifth player in Boilermaker history to surpass the 4,000 assist mark. Dargan owns three spots among the single-season top 10 lists and put her name in the single-game record book with a 72-assist performance against Michigan on Oct. 1, 2004. That tally was the second-highest, four-game match total in Purdue history. In addition to 12.32 assists per game, Dargan has averaged 1.89 digs per game, 1.28 kills per game and served up 122 aces in her career.
Wisch is a Star
Left side hitter Leah Wischmeier became the 17th Boilermaker player to surpass the 1,000-career kill mark last year. The Brownstown, Ind., tallied the milestone kill came in Game 5 of Purdue's Nov. 6, 2004, match with Michigan. Wischmeier wrapped up the season with 1,089 total kills. In her Boilermaker career, Wischmeier has tallied 1,174 kills, an average of 3.30 kills per game, a tally which ranks eighth on the Purdue kills per game list. The senior needed 49 more kills to enter the career top 10 list in that category and was just 22 attempts shy of the Top 10 in that category before suffering a career-ending ACL injury on Sept. 17.
The Boilermaker volleyball team will take on tough competition this season, facing 10 teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament, including five that finished the season among the nation's Top 25.
This year's freshman class was ranked among the Top 10 recruiting classes nationally by both prepvolleyball.com and Volleyball Magazine. The former dubbed the Purdue freshmen as the sixth-best class in the nation, while the latter tabbed the Boilermaker rookies as the ninth-best class. Left side hitter Danita Merlau (New Palestine, Ind.) and middle hitter Stephanie Lynch (New Albany, Ind.) were named as Fab50 players by Volleyball Magazine, while Merlau, Lynch and left side hitter/defensive specialist Kelli Miller (Muncie, Ind.) were all named among the Top 50 senior recruits by prepvolleyball.com.
Tall, Tall Trees
At 6-foot-4, freshman Danita Merlau is one of the tallest players to ever don a Purdue volleyball uniform. Lyndsey Phillips (2001) is the only other player of that stature to play for the Boilermakers. Only five players have measured 6-foot-3 or taller in Purdue history. Two current players, freshman Stephanie Lynch and sophomore Lizzie Jacques, as well as Monica Hardy (1991) have each topped out at 6-foot-3. Preseason Picks
Renata Dargan, a 6-foot setter, was one of 12 players named to the preseason All-Big Ten list as voted on by the league's coaches. The honor is just the latest conference accolade for the setter. Dargan was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2002 and as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection the last two seasons.
The New Lenox, Ill., native has compiled 5,505 assists in her four-year Boilermaker career, an average of 12.29 per game, and owns the school record in assists with that mark. In 2004, Dargan dished out 13.30 assists per game, which ranked 18th in the nation. She also added 1.79 digs, 1.56 kills and 0.78 blocks per game, while serving up 26 aces.
The Big Ten coaches also tabbed the Purdue team to finish fifth in the conference race. Two-time defending league champion Penn State, which is ranked No. 5 in the AVCA preseason national coaches poll, was named as the preseason favorite, followed by Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Boilermakers won 20 straight games, dating from their Oct. 14 match with No. 19 Minnesota to Friday's 3-2 loss to Northwestern. Purdue topped Minnesota 3-1, dropping the first stanza, before rebounding with three straight wins, and won their next five matches via sweep. The team then won the first two games against the Wildcats, before losing the match in five games to end the streak.
The Boilermakers won 18-straight games dating from their Sept. 9 match with North Carolina to their Sept. 17 match with No. 16 Tennessee. Purdue beat the Tarheels 3-1, but won three straight after losing the first stanza to garner the win. During the string, the Boilermakers swept South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Ohio, Xavier and #16 Tennessee.
The team is just two game victories away from tying the third-longest string in Purdue history. A list of the top four win streaks follows.
1. Sept. 11-Oct. 1, 1982 24 games
2. Sept. 21-Oct. 5, 1985 22 games
3. Oct. 2 - Oct. 16, 1982 20 games
Oct. 14 - Nov. 4, 2005 20 games
4. Sept. 9 - Sept. 23, 2005 18 games
Can You Dig It?
With 31 digs in Purdue's Sept. 4, 2004 match with Missouri, defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea became the first Purdue player since 1990 to pull up more than 30 digs in a match. With the effort, the Downers Grove, Ill., native became the first Purdue player to eclipse the 30-dig mark since Kelly Niedbalski tallied 32 on Oct. 12, 1990. Graduated senior Daren Poe followed the effort with a 33-dig performance against Illinois on Nov. 13, marking the second highest dig tally behind Becky Kanitz's pair of 37-dig matches in 1987.
Across the Pond
Graduated senior Kim McConaha has taken her talents to the next level. The middle hitter from Centerville, Ind., is playing volleyball professionally in La Rochette, France this fall. McConaha is a member of the Melun Val De Seine La Rochette team. The squad played its first match of the season on Sept. 9 in Belgium. Former Penn State player Sydney Nadeau also is on the team.