Conference Conclusion

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM The Boilermakers, currently tied for third in the Big Ten with Minnesota, wrap up the regular season at Michigan State and Northwestern this weekend.
The Boilermakers, currently tied for third in the Big Ten with Minnesota, wrap up the regular season at Michigan State and Northwestern this weekend.

Nov. 20, 2007

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker volleyball wraps up regular season and Big Ten play on the road this weekend. Purdue takes on Michigan State and Northwestern with hopes to securing third place in the conference and improving their resume heading into NCAA Tournament play.

Series Information
Michigan State (Purdue leads the series 37-25): The series with the Spartans has been filled with streaks. MSU won the first four meetings starting on Oct. 18, 1975. Purdue took over winning the next five from 1977 to 1979 then each of the next 24 from 1981 to 1993. MSU won 19 of the next 21, but Purdue has taken six of the last seven matches, including the Oct. 13 contest.

Northwestern (Purdue leads the series 41-22): The series with the Wildcats began with a trio of Purdue wins beginning in 1977. The Boilermakers won seven straight from Oct. 17, 1981 to Oct. 15, 1983. The teams traded wins from 1987 to 1990, but Purdue took 13 of the next 14 including streaks of six and seven respectively. Northwestern took 10 of the next 16. The teams then split the 2005 meetings with each winning on its home court. The Boilermakers swept the 2006 meetings and won the Oct. 12 contest.

The Book on the Boilermakers
The Purdue Boilermakers (17-12, 10-8 Big Ten) wrap up Big Ten play against Michigan State and Northwestern this weekend. The Boilermakers topped Indiana and Michigan last week to secure the program's third straight 10-win Big Ten season.

Junior outside hitter Danita Merlau and junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch lead the Purdue offense with 3.81 and 3.73 kills per game respectively. Lynch boasts a team-best .334 hitting percentage and racks up 1.35 blocks per game, while Merlau contributes 3.11 digs per game in addition to her kill tally. Senior outside hitter Samantha Mader (2.88) and sophomore outside hitter/middle hitter Carrie Gurnell (2.00 also average more than two kills per game. Freshman outside hitter Kristen Arthurs (1.43) also contributes to the offense. Arthurs and Gurnell also add 0.97 and 0.90 blocks per game respectively.

Junior libero Kelli Miller leads the Purdue backcourt with 4.71 digs per game. Senior defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea and Merlau provide 3.95 and 3.11 digs per game respectively. Freshman defensive specialist Jessica Ullrich (1.77), sophomore setter Sam Gray (1.66), redshirt junior Meghan McCormick (1.48) and freshman setter Jaclyn Hart (1.38) follow. Eleven different players have accounted for the team's 106 aces, led by Miller's tally of 27. Four other players also have served up double-digit aces tallies.

Scouting The Spartans
The Michigan State Spartans (17-13, 8-10 Big Ten) enter the final weekend of Big Ten play after splitting contests on the road at Minnesota and Iowa last weekend. The Spartans fell to the Golden Gophers and rebounded with a win over the Hawkeyes.

Senior outside hitters Ashley Shatzle and Katie Johnson lead the Spartan offense, averaging 4.45 and 4.39 kills per game respectively. Freshman outside/middle hitter Jenilee Rathje (2.41) and sophomore middle hitter Vanessa King (2.36) also contribute more than two kills per game. Senior outside hitter Jessica Hohl adds 1.77 kills per game on a team-best .296 hitting effort, while Rathje leads the Spartans at the net with 1.17 blocks per game. King also adds 1.06 blocks per game.

Senior defensive specialist Miken Trogdon and Schatzle have split the defensive load with 3.48 and 3.12 digs per game respectively. Junior outside/middle hitter Heather McDaniel follows with 2.19 digs per game, while freshman setter Lauren O'Reilly (1.93) and Johnson (1.92) add nearly two digs per game. Michigan State is coached by Cathy George, who is in her third year with the team.

News About Northwestern
The Northwestern Wildcats (17-12, 8-10 Big Ten) enter Friday night's match with Indiana after going topping Iowa and falling to Minnesota on the road last weekend.

Five Wildcat players are averaging more than two kills per game. Senior outside hitter Lindsay Anderson leads the pack with 3.64 kills per game. Senior outside hitter Courtnie Paulus (2.90), junior middle hitter Chelsy Hyser (2.80), redshirt freshman outside hitter Brittani Gray (2.74), and senior middle hitter Brittney Aldridge (2.59) round out the group. Aldridge leads the team with a .338 hitting percentage and also contributes at the net with 1.21 blocks per game. Hyser and redshirt freshman middle hitter Sabel Moffett also add more than a block a game with 1.21 and 1.16 respectively.

Defensively, sophomore libero Kate Nobilio leads the way with 5.66 digs per game. Anderson (2.91), Paulus (2.80), sophomore defensive specialist Emma Pollert (2.41) and freshman setter Elyse Glab (2.07) also add more than two digs per game. Anderson and Paulus have contributed to the Wildcats' 157 ace total with 39 and 32 respectively. Northwestern is coached by Keylor Chan, who is in his eighth year with the team.

Comparing the Opposition

Category      Purdue    Michigan State   Northwestern
Hitting %     .201      .244             .216
Kills         15.23     16.57            15.45
Assists       13.92     15.29            14.19
Aces          1.00      1.38             1.47
Blocks        3.00      2.65             2.99
Digs          17.96     14.94            16.92

What a Difference a Win Makes...

If the Boilermakers top Michigan State on Friday ...

• They will have swept the season series and won seven of the last eight meetings.

• They will move to 18-12 on the year, including an 11-8 mark in Big Ten play.

• They will secure their third-straight winning Big Ten season.

Defense Across America
The Purdue volleyball team ranks 29th in the nation in blocks per game with 3.00. Louisville is the national leader in the category with 3.97 blocks per game. Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch also ranks among the nation's best in blocks with 1.35 per game, a tally that ranks 55th. Louisville's Lecia Brown leads the nation in the category with 2.14 blocks per game.

Movin' On Up
Junior defensive specialist Kelli Miller moved into second place on the Purdue career digs list on Nov. 4 against Ohio State. Miller pulled up 28 digs against the Buckeyes to move her career tally to 1,317. With 36 digs against Indiana and Michigan last week, she boosted her total to 1,388. She trails only record holder Becky Kanitz, who posted 1,564 digs from 1985 to 1988.

Senior defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea is right on Miller's heels, in third place on the career digs list with 1,326.

Junior outside hitter Danita Merlau sits fourth in career attempts with 3,806. Merlau also ranks among the Top 10 in career kills with 1287, a mark which ranks eighth.

Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch ranks among the career top 10 in solo blocks, block assists and total blocks. She sits fifth on the block assists list, just 24 behind career leader Kim McConaha's mark of 382. Lynch also ranks fifth in solo blocks with 83 and sixth in total blocks with 441.

Sophomore setter Sam Gray ranks ninth in career assists with 1,523, while senior outside hitter Sammi Mader ranks ninth in career kills with 1,272.

Academic Accolades
Junior outside hitter Danita Merlau was honored for her work in the classroom when she was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V second team last week.

Merlau, a communications major, was one of 12 student-athletes named to the two Academic All-District V teams. The District V accolade is the second straight for the New Palestine, Ind., native, who received second team honors last season as well.

Against the Top 25
The Boilermakers were slated to face six ranked teams in 2007, based on the preseason AVCA Top 25 poll, however the team has taken on eight ranked foes.

During the Dave Shondell era, Purdue has beaten 12 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 50-160 all-time record in matches against the Top 25.

Offensive Options
The Purdue volleyball team has found success this season with a variety of players leading the way on offense. Five different players have led the team in kills in its 29 matches. Junior outside hitter Danita Merlau has done so on 13 occasions, while junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch has posted a team-high putdown tally 12 times. Those numbers including three matches when the two posted identical tallies: 10 against Michigan State on Oct. 13, 19 at No. 15 Michigan on Oct. 20 and 14 against Iowa, Nov. 9. Lynch has tallied 20 or more kills in five of her team-high performances.

Senior outside hitter Sam Mader has registered a team-leading kill tally five times, while junior outside hitter/libero Kelli Miller and sophomore outside/middle hitter Carrie Gurnell each have led the team once.

A Record Night
Junior libero Kelli Miller did something no other Purdue player had done in program history on Wednesday, Oct. 17, as she chalked up 40 digs vs. Indiana. Miller became the first player to surpass the 40 dig mark as she snapped the 20-year old school record of 37 digs set by Becky Kanitz during the 1987 season. Kanitz achieved the mark twice that season in five-game matches against Northwestern on Nov. 7, and against Western Michigan, on Nov. 10.

Miller racked up her record mark in just four games, helped out by a 15-dig effort in the opening stanza. The Muncie, Ind., native also became the first Purdue player to surpass the 30-dig milestone three times in her career. In addition, the 40-dig effort set a new four-game match record, surpassing the mark of 31 set by teammate Anne Mastandrea earlier this season.

Digging Up A Record
Senior defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea tallied a career-high tying 31 digs in Purdue's season opener against Winthrop, Aug. 24, marking the highest dig total in a four-game match in program history until teammate Kelli Miller posted 40 on Oct. 17. The tally surpassed the 19-year old record of 29 set by Becky Kanitz on Sept. 24, 1988 vs. Iowa. The effort also made Mastandrea just the third player in Purdue history to tally 30 or more digs twice in her career.

Turning A Negative Into A Positive
The Boilermakers held Furman to a -.031 hitting percentage on Sept. 7 at the Clemson Big Orange Bash. It marked the first time Purdue had held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage in a match since Sept. 19, 1998, when the Boilermakers limited Toledo to a -.051 effort.

A Century's Worth of Digs
The Purdue defense has racked up 100 or more digs twice this season, with 104 against North Carolina (9/1) and 109 at Clemson (9/8). The 109 dig tally marks the most for a Boilermaker team in the rally-scoring era, which began in 2001. Purdue has reached the century mark in digs just four times since 2001 with a 101-dig effort vs. Northwestern, Nov. 24, 2001; a 100-dig effort at Iowa, Oct. 7, 2006; and the two thus far in 2007.

The Right Stuff
Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch put up a career-best 15 blocks (4 solo, 11 assists) in Purdue's Sept. 1 contest with Utah. The mark is just one off the Purdue school record of 16, which has been reached three times in program history. Lynch became the first player to record 15 or more blocks since 1992. Thus far in 2007, Lynch has racked up 135 blocks, or 1.32 per game. She ranks among the Purdue career top 10 in solo blocks, block assists and total blocks. As a Boilermaker, the New Albany, Ind., native has tallied 433 total blocks, including a 13-block effort on Nov. 4 at Ohio State.

As a team, Purdue racked up 24.0 blocks in the contest vs. Utah, the third highest single-match total in program history. The blocking tally is the most for a Boilermaker team since 1991. Purdue is averaging 3.00 blocks per game this season, behind the strength of Lynch (1.35), freshman Kristen Arthurs (0.97), sophomore Carrie Gurnell (0.90), freshman Jaclyn Hart (0.72) and junior Danita Merlau (0.65).

On Sept. 22 vs. Iowa, the Boilermakers chalked up 18.0 blocks in a three-game sweep, marking the second-highest blocking tally in a three-game match in program history. Only the Sept. 10, 1983 match with Illinois State featured more Purdue stuffs in a three-gamer, with 19.0.

Ain't It Grand
Five Boilermaker players have added their names to the Purdue record books in 2007. Three players have reached the 1,000-kill milestone, while two others have tallied their 1,000th-career dig.

Senior outside hitter Samantha Mader became the 18th player in Purdue history to reach the 1,000 kill milestone during Game 4 of the team's Aug. 25 contest with No. 18 Duke. Mader entered the season with 967 kills, just 33 away from the milestone. With 34 kills at the Duke Invitational, Mader boosted her career tally to 1,001.

On Aug. 31, senior Anne Mastandrea became the 11th Boilermaker player to reach the 1,000-dig milestone. She entered the Mortar Board Premier opener with Dayton just 10 shy of the mark, and posted 65 on the weekend. That moves her career tally to 1055, which ranks ninth on the Purdue career digs list. Coming into the 2007 season, the Downers Grove, Ill., native had pulled up 907 digs. She began 2007 by tallying 83 at the Duke Invitational, an average of 7.55 per game.

Junior Kelli Miller posted her 1,000th-career dig in Game 2 of Purdue's Sept. 7 match with Florida A&M. Entering the 2007 season, Miller had pulled up 889 digs.

Junior outside hitter Danita Merlau, who entered that weekend with 975 kills, racked up her 1,000th-career putdown in Game 3 of the team's match vs. Florida A&M. Coming into the 2007 season, Merlau had recorded 883 putdowns.

Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch posted her 1,000th career kill against No. 1 Penn State, Nov. 2. She entered the match needing just seven kills to reach the milestone. Coming into the 2007, Lynch had put down 663 kills.

Super Stephanie
Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Nov. 5, for her performances against No. 1 Penn State and Ohio State over the weekend. Lynch anchored the Purdue block with 2.43 stuffs per game, including a 13-block effort against Ohio State, equalling the second-highest block total in a conference match this season. She rounded out the double-double against OSU with 11 kills. Lynch contributed 2.71 kills per game on the weekend, including a .429 hitting percentage against Penn State. The New Albany, Ind., native reached the 1,000-kill milestone in the match with PSU, making her the 20th Purdue player to reach the 1,000-kill mark.

The Player of the Week honor is the second of Lynch's career and her first defensive accolade. She was named the conference's Player of the Week on Nov. 20, 2006, when she was also named National Player of the Week by the AVCA.

Marvelous Miller
Junior libero Kelli Miller garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors, Oct. 22, after helping the Boilermakers climb to third place in the conference on the strength of the team's first win over a ranked opponent this season. The junior racked up 9.5 digs per game and was a perfect 81-for-81 on service receptions as Purdue went 1-1 on the week, including a four-game win at No. 15 Michigan on Saturday. Against Indiana on Wednesday, Miller broke a 20-year-old school record with 40 digs. Against Michigan, she added 36 digs to her tally. The Muncie, Ind., native also contributed seven assists and three services aces on the weekend, including game point in Game 1 (31-29) against the nationally ranked Wolverines.

Amazing Annie
Anne Mastandrea was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week August 27 for her efforts at the Duke Invitational. She racked up 83 digs on the weekend, a tally of 7.55 per game, while also making good on 96 percent of her serve reception opportunities, including a perfect 30-for-30 mark against Winthrop. The performances moved the Downers Grove, Ill., within 10 digs away from the 1,000-dig milestone for her career. She also set a new four-game match record with 31 digs against Winthrop.

Tournament Honors
Senior defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea and junior outside hitter Danita Merlau garnered all-tournament team honors at the Duke Invitational Aug. 25-26. Mastandrea racked up 7.55 digs per game and made good on 96 percent of her serve reception opportunities. Merlau averaged 3.82 digs per game, 3.36 kills per game and 0.82 blocks per game, while also serving up three aces on the weekend.

Junior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch was named to the all-tournament team at the Mortar Board Premier, Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Lynch racked up 4.08 kills per game, while putting up 1.85 blocks per game. She tallied 15 blocks in Purdue's contest against Utah, just one shy of the Purdue record of 16 and the most for a Purdue player since the 1992 season.

Lynch was named MVP of the Big Orange Bash, while Merlau and freshman setter Jaclyn Hart were named to the all-tournament team. Lynch posted 4.91 kills per game on a .495 hitting percentage. Merlau added 4.55 kills per game, 4.00 digs per game and 10 blocks, while Hart accounted for 14.36 assists, 1.82 digs, 1.09 kills and 0.91 blocks per game.

Preseason Predictions
Junior Stephanie Lynch was listed among the best volleyball players in the Big Ten as the league announced its Preseason All-Conference team. The 6-3 middle hitter was one of 12 players named to the preseason list as voted on by the league's coaches. The honor is just the latest conference accolade for the team's top blocker, who is looking to build on her previous success, which brought Honorable Mention All-America honors as well as first team All-Big Ten and All-Mideast Region accolades a year ago. All told, Lynch tallied 2.71 kills per game on a team-best .328 hitting percentage, which ranked seventh in the Big Ten, while adding 23 aces and 1.14 blocks per game. As a team, the Boilermakers were picked to finish fifth in the league.

Fabulous Freshmen
This year's freshman class was ranked as the seventh-best recruiting class in the nation by Three members of the class were included in prepvolleyball's list of top 50 recruits, while one was named to Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 list. The class features six players: 6-3 middle hitter Kristen Arthurs, 5-10 outside hitter/defensive specialist Blair Bashen, 5-7 defensive specialist Jordan Fullove, 6-1 setter Jaclyn Hart, 6-3 outside hitter Mandy Nichols and 5-8 defensive specialist Jessica Ullrich.

Dig For A Cure
Purdue Athletics and its more than 500 student-athletes and coaches will be partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation ( and the American Cancer Society ( for a year-long fundraising and awareness campaign to benefit cancer research.

The campaign will include one event from each Boilermaker team that will be designated as a cancer awareness day/event and will feature opportunities to donate and special recognitions or educational materials. To celebrate this event, Follett's Purdue Pride stores will have a commemorative t-shirt on hand at events for fans to purchase, with $3 from each shirt sold going directly to the cause.

As part of the campaign, the volleyball team hosted Dig for a Cure night on Oct. 13. Fans pledged funds for each dig the team tallied during the match against Michigan State, raising more than $1,200. The team wore pink ribbons and fans received pink rally towels to show support.