Nov. 25, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 18 Boilermaker volleyball will make its final case for the NCAA Tournament selection committee this weekend when the team faces Northwestern and Wisconsin on the road to wrap up the Big Ten play. Purdue looks to wrap up season sweeps of both teams, which would move the Boilermakers to 24-8 on the year and 13-7 in conference play heading into the postseason.
Both of this weekend's matches will air live on WSHY 1410 AM in Lafayette and on yahoosports.com. Live statistics of the matches can be found on purduesports.com.
NCAA Selection Show
The Boilermakers will learn their postseason fate at 10 p.m. Sunday when the NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs live on ESPNU. The half hour show will break down the 64-team bracket.
The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: The No. 18 Purdue Boilermakers are 22-8 on the season, including an 11-7 mark in the Big Ten, good for fourth place in the league standings. The Boilermakers have secured a winning conference season for the fourth-straight season, while surpassing their overall win total from 2007 (19-14).
Last Time Out: The Boilermakers fell to No. 16 Illinois on Wednesday, but rebounded with a sweep of Michigan State on Friday.
Statistically Speaking: Middle hitter Stephanie Lynch paces the Boilermaker offense with 3.52 kills on a team-best .413 hitting effort, while also leading the team at the net with 1.41 blocks per set. Outside hitter Danita Merlau is right behind with 3.01 kills per set. Middle hitter Kristen Arthurs tacks on 2.14 kills and helps out at the net with 0.88 blocks per set, while outside hitter Carrie Gurnell averages 1.96 kills and 0.71 blocks per set. In the backcourt, libero Kelli Miller racks up a team-best 4.24 digs per set. Merlau adds 1.97 digs per set, while defensive specialist Jessica Ullrich and setter Jaclyn Hart pull up 1.95 and 1.75 respectively. Hart also has dished out 9.94 assists per set, while adding 0.71 blocks per set. Purdue has served up 99 aces, paced by Miller's output of 25. Ullrich, junior outside hitter Sam Ainsworth and Lynch have added 19, 15 and 12 respectively.
Northwestern (Purdue leads the series 43-22): 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 have taken the last five meetings, including the Oct. 18 contest earlier this season.
Wisconsin (UW leads the series 36-24): The Boilermakers won 13 of the first 16 meetings in the series which began on Oct. 11, 1975, including a string of 10 straight from 1981-1986. Wisconsin won 11 of the next 19, before beginning a 17-match win streak, which lasted from 1996-2004. Since then, the Boilermakers have won two matches, including a 3-1 win in Madison in 2005, Purdue's first road win against the Badgers since 1992. Wisconsin had taken the last four meetings, until the Boilermakers topped the Badgers in five sets on Oct. 17.
News About Northwestern
At First Glance: The Northwestern Wildcats (8-21, 2-16 Big Ten) are searching for their first win since Nov. 1. The Wildcats, under ninth-year head coach Keylor Chan, have faced three ranked teams during their current six-game skid.
Last Time Out: Northwestern dropped conference matches to No. 1 Penn State and Indiana last weekend, falling to the Nttany Lions in three sets and the Hoosiers in four.
Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Brittani Gray, middle hitter Chelsy Hyser, and middle hitter Sabel Moffett lead the Wildcat offense with 2.61, 2.55 and 2.39 kills per set respectively. Hyser is hitting at a .278 clip to lead the team, while Moffett chalks up a team-best 0.98 blocks per set. Libero Kate Nobilio is average 4.66 digs per set to pace the NU defense. Setter Elyse Glab (1.90) follows. Setter Madalyn Shalter (18) leads a group of eight players with double-digit aces tallies, helping NU to its total of 108.
Words About Wisconsin
At First Glance: The Wisconsin Badgers (17-13, 9-11 Big Ten) are 3-9 in their last 12 matches, beginning a five-set loss to Purdue on Oct. 17. The Badgers are in their 10th year under head coach Pete Waite.
Last Time Out: Wisconsin fell to Indiana in four sets and was swept by No. 1 Penn State last weekend.
Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Brittany Dolgner leads the Badger offense, averaging 3.40 kills per set. Middle hitter Audra Jeffers (2.45) and outside hitter Kaity DuPont (2.10) follow. Outside hitter Katherine Dykstra also contributes 1.95 kills to the offense. Jeffers boasts a team-best .302 hitting effort and leads the team at the net with 1.11 blocks per set. Middle hitter Elle Ohlander adds 0.89 blocks per set. Libero Kim Kuzma paces the Wisconsin backcourt with 4.25 digs per set. Dolgner chips in 2.21 digs per set to the team tally. UW has served up 106 aces, led by setter Nikki Kligsporn's 23.
Comparing the Teams
Statistic Purdue Northwestern Wisconsin Hitting % .235 .257 .200 Kills 12.66 13.77 10.37 Assists 11.44 12.56 9.30 Aces 0.88 1.11 0.89 Blocks 2.64 2.57 1.75 Digs 13.14 12.98 11.07
What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top Northwestern on Friday ...
They will move to 23-8 on the season, including an 12-7 record in Big Ten play, which would mark Purdue's fourth straight season with 11 or more league wins.
They will post their first 12-win conference season since 2005 and be just one win away from their first 13 win league campaign since 1987 (14-4).
They will sweep the Wildcats in the season series for the third straight year, while moving to 8-4 against Northwestern in the Shondell era.
Among the Nation
The Boilermakers rank among the nation's top 50 in several team and individual statistical categories. As a team, Purdue ranks 17th in blocks per set (2.64). Individually, middle hitter Stephanie Lynch ranks seventh in hitting percentage (.413) and 14th in blocks per set (1.41).
Middle hitter Stephanie Lynch, outside hitter Danita Merlau and libero Kelli Miller have rewritten the Purdue career record books since arriving on campus in 2004, while helping the team to an 89-42 mark and three-straight NCAA Tournament berths. The trio has garnered both academic and athletic accolades on the conference and national levels.
Lynch, a two-time honorable mention All-America and three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, owns the career records for hitting percentage (.350), total blocks (620) and block assists (513). She also ranks second in blocks per set (1.32), fourth in solo blocks (107) and sixth in kills (1,477).
Merlau, a three-time Academic All-District and Academic All-Big Ten selection, is the Boilermaker career record holder for hitting attempts (5,035). She also ranks second all-time in kills (1,656) and fourth in kills per set (3.55).
Miller, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten and five-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week selection, owns the career records for digs (1,920) and digs per set (4.06). She also set the school record for digs in a match with 40 against Indiana on Oct. 17, 2007.
Rank And File
The Boilermakers remained at No. 18 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll for the fourth-straight week after splitting contests with then-No. 16 Illinois and Michigan State last week.
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 90 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 10 matches thus far in 2008, including No. 17 Illinois. 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 54-166 all-time record in matches against the Top 25.
Packing The House
The Boilermakers rank eighth in national attendance average with 2,692 per match. In 13 home matches, 34,998 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.
A Defensive Force
Senior middle hitter Stephanie Lynch garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for her efforts in weekend matches against Indiana and No. 1 Penn State. The New Albany, Ind., native led the Boilermakers at the net with a 2.4 blocks per set average and 2.00 kills per set against Indiana and No. 1 Penn State over the weekend.
Against the Hoosiers on Friday, the senior recorded her first double-digit blocking performance of the season with 10 total stuffs. The total ties for the fourth-highest in the conference this season and the second-highest tally during a Big Ten match this year. The effort lifted Lynch to the 600 career blocks milestone and helped the Boilermakers defeat Indiana, 3-2, securing the Monon Spike travelling trophy.
Against top-ranked Penn State on Saturday, Lynch tallied nine total blocks, including two solo efforts, to help Purdue score 20 points in two sets against a Nittany Lion squad that has yet to drop a single stanza this season. Behind Lynch, the Boilermakers tallied nine team blocks in the match, which is the highest total by a PSU opponent this year.
The weekly award is the fifth of Lynch's career and her third this season. The senior was named Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 15 and Oct. 20, while libero Kelli Miller took the defensive nod each time.
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 5,009.
Merlau has chalked up 1,646 kills in those attempts, a mark which ranks her second on that Purdue career list. With six putaways against No. 1 Penn State on Nov. 15, Merlau passed Brooke White (1993-96) for the second spot. White accululated 1,642 kills.
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 2,080. The sophomore has racked up 1085 assists thus far this season, while also adding 90 kills (0.83 per set), 194 digs (1.74 per set) and 77 blocks (0.71 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 615 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 508. She then surpassed the 500 total blocks milestone on Sept. 13 and ranks among the career top 10 in solo blocks (4th with 107).
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 1,910. 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 120-74 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 earned 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.