Nov. 14, 2008
Complete Release in PDF Format
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 18 Boilermaker volleyball team kicks off a four-match home stand this weekend against instate rival Indiana and No. 1 Penn State. Purdue will battle the Hoosiers for the Monon Spike travelling trophy in a black-out match on Friday before taking on the defending national champion Nittany Lions on Saturday in a match set to be televised on the Big Ten Network.
The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: The No. 18 Purdue Boilermakers are 20-6 on the season, including a 9-5 mark in the Big Ten, good for fourth place in the league standings. With six regular season matches remaining, the Boilermakers have already surpassed their win total from 2007 (19-14).
Last Time Out: The Boilermakers split road matches with No. 17 Minnesota and Iowa last weekend, falling to the Golden Gophers, but rebounding with a sweep of the Hawkeyes.
Statistically Speaking: Middle hitter Stephanie Lynch paces the Boilermaker offense with 3.66 kills on a team-best .422 hitting effort, while also leading the team at the net with 1.31 blocks per set. Outside hitter Danita Merlau is right behind with 3.15 kills per set. Middle hitter Kristen Arthurs tacks on 2.08 kills and helps out at the net with 0.93 blocks per set. In the backcourt, libero Kelli Miller racks up a team-best 4.30 digs per set. Merlau adds 2.06 digs per set, while defensive specialist Jessica Ullrich and setter Jaclyn Hart pull up 2.02 and 1.84 respectively. Hart also has dished out 9.97 assists per set, while adding 0.76 blocks per set. Purdue has served up 90 aces, paced by Miller's output of 24. Ullrich, junior outside hitter Sam Ainsworth and Lynch have added 18, 15 and 11 respectively.
Indiana (Purdue leads the series 49-32): Purdue won the first two meetings of the series, which began in October 1975. Indiana won eight of the next nine contests from 1975 to 1977. The Boilermakers then rattled off 24-straight wins from 1978 to 1985, marking the longest win streak vs. a single opponent in school history. The teams split the next 14 matches before the Hoosiers started a 16-3 run from 1992 to 2002, including a five-match string. Purdue had taken eight matches in a row, including four Monon Spike matches, until the Hoosiers won the Oct. 17 meeting last year. Purdue has won the last two matches, including the Sept. 27 contest.
Penn State (PSU leads the series 40-5): 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 39 meetings, 34 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, 2005, but wound up losing in five.
Hearing about the Hoosiers
At First Glance: The Indiana Hoosiers (14-12, 6-8 Big Ten), in their second year under head coach Sherry Dunbar are tied for sixth in the Big Ten standings, after placing 10th in 2007.
Last Time Out: The Hoosiers fell to No. 1 Penn State and Michigan State last weekend, snapping a four-match win streak.
Statistically Speaking: Middle hitter Erica Short leads the Hoosier offense with 4.65 kills per set. Middle hitter Ashley Benson (3.14), outside hitter Kelsey Hall (2.68) and outside hitter Taylor Wittmer (2.12) follow. Benson is hitting at a team-best .309 clip and also leads the team at the net with 1.46 blocks per set. Defensive specialist Caitlin Cox paces the defense with 3.36 digs per set, while defensive specialist Juli Pierce (2.90) and Hall (2.30) also help out in the backcourt. Defensive specialist/setter Hayley Koetter has served up 26 of the team's 85 aces, while splitting time with Mary Chaudoin at the setting position. Cox has added 20 aces, while Pierce has served up 15.
News about the Nittany Lions
At First Glance: No. 1 Penn State has not dropped a set all season in 26 matches. UCLA and Indiana have scored 22 points on the Nittany Lions, but that is the closest anyone has come to the defending national champions, who are in their 30th year under head coach Russ Rose.
Last Time Out: The Nittany Lions swept Yale, New Hampshire and Saint Louis at the Penn State Classic last weekend. Nicole Fawcett earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for her efforts.
Statistically Speaking: Outside hitters Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge lead the PSU offense with 3.91 and 3.87 kills per set respectively. Fawcett has served up a team-best 32 aces and is one of seven Nittany Lions hitting over .300 for the season. Middle hitter Christa Harmotto is averaging 2.59 kills per set, while hitting at a team-best .529 clip. Harmotto also leads the team at the net with 1.48 blocks per set. Middle hitter Arielle Wilson adds 2.12 kills and 1.37 blocks per set. Libero Roberta Holehouse paces the backcourt defense with 3.38 digs per set, followed by Hodge (2.03) and Fawcett (1.92). As a team, PSU is hitting .395 while holding opponents to a .066 effort.
Comparing the Teams
Statistic Purdue Indiana Penn State
Hitting % .238 .214 .395
Kills 12.79 13.40 14.94
Assists 11.48 12.60 13.97
Aces 0.93 0.86 1.40
Blocks 2.60 2.60 3.26
Digs 13.53 13.59 11.86
What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top Indiana on Friday ...
They will move to 21-6 on the season, including a 10-5 conference mark. The 10 Big Ten victories will mark the fourth-straight year Purdue has reached the milestone in conference play.
They will have move to 11-1 against the Hoosiers in the Shondell era, including five Monon Spike victories.
Defending The Spike
The Monon Spike travelling trophy will be on the line Friday night when the Boilermakers take on Indiana. Purdue had taken the trophy four straight years before last year's 3-1 defeat in Bloomington. The Boilermakers however lead the overall Spike series 22-12.
The Monon Spike trophy was created by Purdue seniors Donna Hardesty and Anne McMenamy in 1981. They set out to find an object that would be a reminder of the competition on the court as well as something right with the tradition of the state of Indiana. They chose the Spike from the Monon Railroad, which originated in Indiana in the late 19th century. It was taken from a portion of railroad track in Lafayette. The trophy was unveiled at a media luncheon Sept. 2,1 981 at the Lafayette Country Club. As with its sister trophy, the Old Oaken Bucket, a `P' or an `I' link is added to the chain signifying the season's winner.
Crimson & Gold Cup
Friday's matchup is part of the Crimson and Gold Cup, which highlights all sporting events between Purdue and Indiana during the year. Teams are awarded points for a victory in each of the head-to-head meetings between the schools' 18 common sports. In sports like volleyball where the teams compete in more than one contest per season, the point is divided into equal parts. Each volleyball match, for instance, is worth half a point.
Among the Nation
The Boilermakers rank among the nation's top 50 in several team and individual statistical categories. As a team, Purdue ranks 22nd in blocks per set (2.60). Individually, middle hitter Stephanie Lynch ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.422) and 22nd in blocks per set (1.31).
Rank And File
The Boilermakers remained at No. 18 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll for the second straight week after splitting contests with then-No. 17 Minnesota and Iowa.
Purdue has been ranked among the nation's top 25 throughout the 2008 season, peaking at No. 15 on Sept.8, which marked the Boilermakers' highest ranking since earning the No. 13 spot in the 2007 preseason listing.
Since rankings began in 1982, Purdue has been ranked in 89 polls, including preseason and postseason listings.
Against the Top 25
The Boilermakers were slated to face four ranked teams in 2008, based on the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll. However, the team has taken on six ranked foes in nine matches thus far in 2008, including No. 1 Penn State. During the Dave Shondell era, Purdue has beaten 16 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 54-165 all-time record in matches against the Top 25.
Packing The House
The Boilermakers rank seventh in national attendance average with 2,919 per match. In nine home matches, 26,272 fans have watched the team play. Purdue's Oct. 17 Mackey Madness event, which saw the volleyball team take on No. 19 Wisconsin prior to the basketball tipoff celebration, brought in 10,579 fans, the second most ever to see the Boilermaker volleyball team play at home in program history. The tally was second only to the Pack Mackey event on Oct. 29, 1985, when a then-NCAA record 10,645 people came to watch Purdue take on Western Michigan.
Swinging For The Record
Outside hitter Danita Merlau snapped the 20-year old Purdue record for career hitting attempts, Nov. 1 vs. No. 20 Michigan, taking 60 swings to boost her career tally to 4,831. The effort moved the senior ahead of Debbie McDonald (1986-89), who posted 4,771 attempts as a Boilermaker. Merlau's tally now stands at 4,898.
Merlau has chalked up 1,624 kills in those attempts, a mark which ranks her third on that Purdue career list. She is just 18 putaways from moving into the second place spot on the list.
Setter Jaclyn Hart is only in her second season as a Boilermaker, but her name is already among those in the career record books, ranking ninth in assists with 1,962. The sophomore has racked up 967 assists thus far this season, while also adding 83 kills (0.86 per set), 178 digs (1.84 per set) and 74 blocks (0.76 per set).
Middle hitter Stephanie Lynch became Purdue's all-time career blocks leader with five stuffs against Michigan State on Oct. 25. Lynch, who also is the all-time leader in block assists, took the career mark from Marianne Smith, who tallied 567 from 1982-85. Lynch now has tallied 590 total blocks.
Lynch snapped Kim McConaha (2001-04)'s career record mark of 382 block assists against Tennessee State on August 30. She now owns the record with 486. She then surpassed the 500 total blocks milestone on Sept. 13 and ranks among the career top 10 in solo blocks (4th with 104).
Can You Dig It?
Libero Kelli Miller became Purdue's career digs leader on Sept. 13 against Utah State, surpassing Becky Kanitz (1985-88)'s mark of 1,564. The overall record now stands at 1,862. Miller began her senior season with a tally of 1,445 and inched her way to the record in the team's opening eight matches. The Muncie, Ind., native moved into second place on the Purdue career digs list on Nov. 4, 2007.
Tale of the Century
Head coach Dave Shondell recorded his 100th collegiate coaching victory when the Boilermakers swept Tennessee State, August 30. His teams have posted a 118-72 mark in his five plus years as the Boilermaker boss.
Dig For A Cure
On October 4, Coach Shondell and the Boilermaker volleyball team celebrated breast cancer awareness month with Dig for the Cure, a national initiative by college volleyball teams to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. The team raised $1,546 for the Indianapolis Affiliate of Komen for the Cure through dig pledges and a silent auction.
In 2007, the Purdue volleyball team raised more than $1,300 as fans pledged fund for each dig the team tallied during its Dig for a Cure match against Michigan State on October 13. The Boilermakers wore pink ribbons and fans received pink rally towels to show support.
Seniors Stephanie Lynch and Kelli Miller swept the Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the second time this season, nabbing Big Ten Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week accolades Oct. 20. The duo, which also swept the honors on Sept. 15, are the only pair from a single team to earn honors in the same week this season.
Lynch tallied 4.4 kills per set on the strength of a .439 hitting percentage, also adding 1.9 blocks per stanza to move into second place on Purdue's all-time total blocks list. Against the nationally ranked Badgers, the senior put down 20 kills at a .459 clip with a match-high seven blocks in a 3-2 win. The next day against the Wildcats, she tallied 15 kills at a .414 mark with a service ace and eight stuffs in a 3-0 sweep. With 15 total blocks on the weekend, Lynch owns 563 in her career and needs just four more for the school record. The offensive accolade is her second of the season and the fourth of her career.
Miller earns Big Ten defensive accolades after averaging 5.0 digs and 0.6 aces per set as Purdue defeated nationally ranked Wisconsin and Northwestern over the weekend. Miller also executed on 44 of 45 (98 percent) of her service reception attempts and helped the Boilermakers to a .320 hitting mark on the weekend with her passing. Against No. 19 Wisconsin on Friday, Miller recorded 20 digs and five service aces, which is the highest total in any Big Ten match this season. Versus Northwestern, the libero posted her fifth 20-dig match of the year while executing on all 13 of her service reception opportunities as she helped pass her squad to a season-high hitting percentage of .352. The award is Miller's second this season and the fifth of her career.
Middle hitter Stephanie Lynch and libero Kelli Miller were named Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week on Sept. 15 after leading the Boilermakers to their third straight tournament title and marking career milestones at the Utah Classic last weekend.
Lynch garnered offensive honors after earning MVP honors at the Utah Classic, racking up 4.1 kills, 1.4 blocks and 0.6 digs per set over the weekend. The senior totaled 19 stuffs in 14 sets to surpass the 500 blocks milestone, now with 510 in her career. The New Albany, Ind. native led the Boilermakers in kills in all three matches, recording 14 against St. Louis, 18 versus Utah State and a season-high 25 against Utah in the tournament's championship game. In all, Lynch tallied 57 total kills on a .533 hitting percentage, including a .564 mark against Utah in which she put down 10 hits in Set 4 alone. The award is the third of Lynch's career as she was also honored once as a junior (Nov. 5, 2007 Defensive) and once as a sophomore (Nov. 20, 2006).
On the defensive side, Miller became Purdue's all-time digs leader, tallying 76 saves over the weekend to total 1,602 in her career. The senior recorded 19 digs in the Boilermakers' opening match vs. Saint Louis before breaking the previous school record of 1,564 against Utah State with 23 saves. Miller tacked on 34 digs against Utah in the championship game of the Utah Classic, posting the Big Ten's third-highest single-match digs total this season. The effort was Miller's fifth career 30-dig effort, giving her three of the top five single-match totals in Purdue annals. On the weekend, Miller executed on 97 percent of her service reception opportunities and also recorded six assists and one ace in 14 sets. Behind Miller, the Boilermaker defense held opponents to just a .123 combined hitting percentage. The weekly honor is the fourth of Miller's career as she was recognized twice in 2006 (Sept. 4 and Oct. 9) and once last season (Oct. 22).
The Boilermakers were well represented on the all-tournament teams at each of its non-conference ventures this season. At the season opening Mortar Board Premier, senior outside hitter Danita Merlau garnered MVP honors, while senior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch and senior libero Kelli Miller earned all-tournament team nods. At the Active Ankle Challenge, Miller took MVP honors, while Lynch and Merlau were named to the all-tournament team. At the Utah Classic, Lynch brought home MVP accolades, while setter Jaclyn Hart and Miller garnered all-tournament team nods. Lynch also was named MVP of the Dayton Flyer Invitational, while Miller and Merlau received all-tournament team recognition.
Lauds For Lynch
Senior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch was one of 12 players named to the preseason All-Big Ten team as announced by the conference on Aug. 14. The honor is the third straight for Lynch, who garnered honorable mention All-America, first team all-region and first team All-Big Ten acclaim in 2006 and 2007.
Lynch averaged 3.53 kills per game on a .318 hitting effort, while also posting 1.38 blocks per game in Purdue's 33 matches. In conference play, the New Albany, Ind., native tallied 3.24 kills per game on a team-best .289 hitting effort, while racking up 1.51 blocks per game. Lynch was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and also earned Defensive Player of the Week honors from the conference on Nov. 5.
The league's coaches have high expectations for the Boilermakers this season as Purdue was tabbed to finish fourth in the conference race in the Big Ten preseason poll. The Big Ten coaches chose defending national champion Penn State, which has won the conference title the past five seasons, to repeat as Big Ten champions, Minnesota was picked to finished second, followed by Wisconsin and Purdue.
In 2007, the Boilermakers finished tied for third with the Golden Gophers, marking their best conference placing since 1990.
After completing her volleyball and basketball playing careers, former Boilermaker Brittany Dildine took on a new role this spring as the team's volunteer assistant coach. Dildine, who head coach Dave Shondell has credited as being a major part of the program's turn around, ranks fifth on Purdue's all-time career digs list with 1,243. She averaged 2.67 digs per game, while also tallying 142 aces and 226 kills in her time in the Old Gold and Black.
Katie McGuine, a native of Rochester, Minn., is in her first year as Director of Operations for the Boilermaker volleyball team after serving in the same position at the University of Iowa for the last two years.