Game Notes 16: NCAA Regionals

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Purdue looks to make the Elite Eight for the second straight year with a victory over Florida State on Friday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Purdue looks to make the Elite Eight for the second straight year with a victory over Florida State on Friday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Dec. 6, 2011

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -

The Slate Friday, Dec. 9:
6 p.m. (EST): #12 seed Florida State vs. #5 seed Purdue
Webcast: ESPN3.com; Radio: WSHY 1410 AM; purduesports.com
8 p.m. (EST): #4 seed Iowa State #13 seed Minnesota

Saturday, Dec. 10:
9:30 p.m. (EST) Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2
TV: ESPNU; Play by Play: Beth Mowins, Color: Karch Kiraly

The Book on the Boilermakers At First Glance: The eighth-ranked Boilermakers (29-4, 16-4 Big Ten) are making the program's 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and seventh in the last eight seasons after posting their best record since the 1985 season (34-4), including the most conference victories since 1985. Purdue which finished second in the Big Ten its best placing since 1987, is in the NCAA third round for the sixth time in program history and fifth since 2005 (also 2006, 2008, 2010). The team also boasts its highest ranking since Nov. 14, 1983 (7th). Purdue returns 12 players, including five starters, from the 2010 team which went 24-11, defeated three Top 10 foes and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. Head coach Dave Shondell is in his ninth season with the team.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers swept Morehead State and topped Louisville 3-1 in the first and second round at home on Belin Court last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Ariel Turner paces the Boilermaker offense with 4.87 kills per set, while also adding 2.77 digs per set and 19 aces. Middle blocker Tiffany Fisher has put down 2.48 kills per set, while hitting .395, putting up 1.03 blocks per set and serving up a team-leading 29 aces. Outside hitters Val Nichol (2.15), Katie Griffin (1.84) and Catherine Rebarchak (1.74) follow. Middle blocker Anna Drewry chips in 1.23 kills per set and 0.90 blocks per set, while middle blocker Kierra Jones paces Purdue at the net with 1.24 blocks and adds 1.43 kills per set.

Defensively, Blair Bashen leads a group of five players with more than two digs per set. Bashen manages 3.99 saves per stanza, while serving up 27 aces. Turner (2.77), libero Carly Cramer (2.70), defensive specialist Emily Ehlers (2.64) and setter Rachel Davis (2.43) round out the group. Cramer adds 12 aces to the team's tally, while Davis also contributes 10.91 assists per set. Purdue is outhitting opponents .266 to .144 and outblocking foes 2.80 to 1.48.

What a Difference a Win Makes...
If the Boilermakers top No. 21 Florida State on Friday ...

• They would advance to the Regional Final, setting up a meeting with the winner of the Minnesota/Iowa State match on Dec. 10 in Minneapolis.

• They will move the program's all-time NCAA Tournament record to 20-13 and advance to the Regional Final for the third time in program history (also 1982, 2010).

• They will move to 30-4, marking the program's best record since 1985 (34-4).

• They will defeat their eighth ranked opponent of the season, the most in program history.

• They will improve to 22-18 all-time when playing in December, including a 3-5 mark when playing on Dec. 9.

Series Information
Florida State (Series is tied 3-3): The Boilermakers and Seminoles have split the six meetings in the series, which began on Dec. 7, 1979. The programs have alternated wins in the series with Purdue taking the first at the AIAW National Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and FSU taking the most recent with a sweep in Tallahassee on Aug. 30, 1997. Purdue is 2-1 in nuetral site meetings in the series.

Iowa State (Purdue leads 1-0): The Boilermakers won the lone previous meeting with the Cyclones, taking a 3-0 decision at the Boilermaker Fall Preview on Sept. 2, 1989.

Minnesota (Minnesota leads the series 43-28): Purdue dominated the early part of the series with the Golden Gophers, which began on Oct. 11, 1975, posting 18 wins in the first 20 meetings. Minnesota won 19 of the next 25, though Purdue swept the 1990 series. The Boilermakers took the 1998 series in a pair of five set matches, but the Gophers have won the last 22 of the last 24. Purdue topped the Gophers 3-1 in the lone meeting this season.

Comparing the Teams

Stat.    Purdue   FSU       ISU      Minnesota
Hit. %   .266     .264      .257     .234
Kills    13.72    14.03     14.17    14.12
Assists  12.63    12.67     13.09    13.40
Aces     1.15     0.96      1.19     1.11
Blocks   2.80     2.95      2.20     1.92
Digs     15.27    15.68     17.82    15.98

Scouting The Seminoles
At First Glance: The No. 21 Florida State Seminoles (26-6, 18-2 ACC) are making their 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and the second Sweet 16 appearance in program history. The Seminoles earned an automatic bid after winning the ACC title. FSU is coached by Chris Poole, who is in his fifth year with the team.

Last Time Out: Florida State advanced to the Sweet 16 with a sweep of Albany and a five-set win over Cincinnati at home in Tallahassee last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova paces the FSU offense with 3.27 kills per set, while also adding 2.75 digs per set and 13 aces. Outside hitter Visnja Djurdjevic follows with 2.88 kills and 3.21 digs per set and 32 aces, while Elise Walch adds 2.10 kills per set, while hitting .305. Outside hitter Rachael Morgan (1.80) and middle blocker Sareea Freeman (1.76) also contribute offensively. Freeman is hitting at a team-best .323 clip and puts up 1.19 blocks per set, while Morgan has served up 20 aces and added 0.91 blocks per set. Middle blocker Ashley Neff leads the team at the net with 1.61 blocks per set. FSU is outhitting opponents .264 to .187 and outblocked foes 2.95 to 1.84.

Defensively, libero Katie Mosher leads the way with 4.58 digs per set, followed by Djurdjevic (3.21) and Stepanova (2.75).

Chatting About The Cyclones
At First Glance: The Iowa State Cyclones (24-5, 13-3 Big 12) are making their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, including four Regional Semifinal berths, and the seventh in program history. The Cyclones earned the tournament's four-seed, the highest in program history, after finishing 22-5, including a 13-3 mark in Big 12 play, good for second place. Iowa State is coached by Christy Johnson-Lynch, who is in her seventh year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Cyclones advanced to the Sweet 16 with sweeps of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and No. 25 Miami (Fla.) at home last weekend.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Carly Jensen leads a group of four hitters averaging more than two kills per set. Jensen puts down 3.88 kills per set, while also adding 3.25 digs per set and 21 aces. Middle blocker Jamie Straube (2.63) and outside hitters Victoria Hurtt (2.28) and Hannah Willms (2.20) follow. Straube is hitting at a team-best .338 clip and chips in 0.94 blocks and 26 aces. Middle blocker Tenisha Matlock leads ISU at the net with 1.000 blocks per set, while also tallying 1.84 kills per set. Iowa State is outhitting opponents .257 to .160.

Defensively, libero Kristen Hahn leads the way with 5.49 digs per set, while four others add more than two digs per set. Jenson (3.25), defensive speciliast Rachel Hockaday (2.78), setter Alison Landwehr (2.51) and defensive specialist Caitlin Mahoney (2.09) make up the group. Mahoney has served up 25 aces, while Landwehr dishes out 11.40 assists per set.

Getting To Know The Gophers
At First Glance: Minnesota (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten) is making its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and 13th consecutive after finishing fifth in the Big Ten. Minnesota has made it to three Final Fours (2003, 2004, 2009) and was the national runner-up in 2004. The Gophers made it to the Regional Semifinals in 2010. Minnesota is coached by Laura Bush, who is in her first year as interim head coach with the team.

Last Time Out: The Golden Gophers advanced to play in the regional on their home court with a sweep of North Dakota State and a five-set comeback win over Washington.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Ashley Wittman headlines a group of four players averaging more than two kills per set. Wittman posts 4.51 kills and 2.76 digs per set, while serving up 18 aces. Outside hitter Katherine Harms (2.80), middle blocker Tori Dixon (2.75) and outside hitter Hailey Cowles (2.00) follow. Dixon is hitting at a team-best .348 clip and boasts a team-best 37 aces, while Cowles adds 2.99 digs per set. Middle blocker Ariana Filho paces the team at the net with 0.90 blocks per set, while also adding 1.83 kills per set.

Defensively, libero Jessica Granquist leads the way with 4.63 digs per set. Cowles (2.99), Wittman (2.76), and defensive specialist Steffi Sooter (1.94) also contribute. Setter Mia Tabberson dishes out 12.15 assists, while also managing 1.92 digs per set. Minnesota is outhitting opponents .234 to .202 and has served up 133 aces.

Rewriting the Record Books
The Boilermakers are making a dent in the season and career record books this year. The team ranks eighth in season block assists 503, just one out of seventh place, and is knocking of the door of the Top 10 for total blocks and digs.

Junior Ariel Turner snapped Colleen DeMeyer's 32-year old record for hitting attempts in a season (1512) as she tallied 43 swings against Wisconsin on Nov. 25, boosting her tally to 1,531. Turner, who has taken 1606 swings in 2011, ranks fourth in career hitting attempts (3,880). Turner entered the Top 10 for season kills on Nov. 23 and has boosted her total to 570, ranking third all-time. The junior broke into the 10th place spot in career kills against Morehead State, and now has tallied 1335.

Redshirt senior Blair Bashen broke into the season Top 10 for digs with 13 against Morehead State, and now ranks ninth with 467. She also ranks seventh in career digs (1245).

With five block assists against Indiana, Nov. 23, senior Tiffany Fisher moved into the career Top 10 in the category, bumping Jaclyn Hart from the 10th place spot (307). Fisher now has 321 block assists, ranking ninth. The senior is 32 total blocks out of the Top 10 in that category.

Among The Nation
The Boilermakers rank among the top 50 nationally in three statistical categories. With a 29-4 record, Purdue ranks fourth in winning percentage (.879). The Boilermakers also are 11th in blocks per set (2.80) and 14th in hitting percentage (.266). The team also ranks 55th in kills per set (13.72) and 63rd in assists per set (12.63).

Individually, junior outside hitter Ariel Turner ranks third in points per set (5.49) and fifth in kills per set (4.87). Senior middle blocker Tiffany Fisher ranks 10th nationally in hitting percentage with a .395 effort. Freshman middle Kierra Jones ranks 39th in blocks per set (1.24). Redshirt sophomore setter Rachel Davis ranks 43rd in assists per set (10.91).

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. Like Purdue Volleyball on Facebook. Follow the team on twitter at twitter.com/PurdueVB or Boilermaker coach Dave Shondell's tweets at twitter.com/daveshondell.