Sept. 20, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Behind 12 kills from standout Annie Drews, No. 11 Purdue took down the University of Notre Dame volleyball team, 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-16), Saturday night in the championship match of the Purdue Active Ankle Challenge.
The Irish held leads in each of the first two sets, but couldn’t close the deal as the Boilermakers rallied back each time behind a rowdy crowd of 7,030 at Mackey Arena. An NCAA quarterfinal team a year ago, Purdue hit .307 for the match, had nine service aces and doubled up the Irish in blocks with eight. Drews, who had a match-high 12 kills, attacked at a .476 clip. KiKi Jones tallied six kills and five blocks while hitting .462.
The match featured just eight ties and two lead changes.
After spectacular efforts Friday, freshman Sam Fry (8 K, 1 SA, 2 B vs. Purdue) and graduate student Nicole Smith (7 K, 2 B vs. Purdue) earned spots on the all-tournament team. Sophomore Katie Higgins (5 K, .500 A%, 2 B) also had some big plays against the Boilermakers.
The match, which was shown nationally on Big Ten Network, was the first national TV appearance for the Irish since an ESPNU contest with Villanova in 2011.
Despite the loss, the Irish (3-8) will have plenty of positives to look at this week in practice after claiming wins over Morehead State and Saint Louis Friday to secure their first winning weekend of the young season and a second-place showing at the tournament.
Winners of three of its last five matches after starting the season 0-6, Notre Dame enters Atlantic Coast Conference play next weekend at Miami and No. 6 Florida State knowing it can compete with some of the best teams in the country. While the three matches against ranked Big Ten teams resulted in losses, all three featured close, winnable sets for the Irish. The Irish youth are also gaining experience with every match as five freshmen received significant playing time tonight.
The Irish came out hot in set one, as they forced a Purdue timeout after jumping out to an 11-7 lead. However, the Boilermakers wouldn’t stay down for long as they roared back with an 18-4 run to win the opening frame convincingly, 25-15. After totaling four kills in the first 11 points, Smith finished with five of Notre Dame’s eight kills, as the Irish hit .000. The Irish also struggled at the net as Purdue had five blocks (0 for ND) to go along with its .312 attack percentage. Sam Epenesa tallied five kills and hit .625.
A wild back-and-forth second set went the way of the Boilermakers as they handled some early adversity to claim a tight, 25-23, victory and take a 2-0 victory into the break. Notre Dame again jumped out to an early lead, boasting a four-point advantage at 10-6. The Irish held a three-point lead at 13-10, but Purdue started chipping away at the lead soon after, as it tied the contest up at 14. A couple of points later, the Irish led 17-15, but couldn’t maintain the advantage. Purdue grabbed its first lead at 20-19 and extended it to 24-21. The Irish tried to make it interesting with back-to-back block assists from Higgins and Smith, but Purdue finished off the second frame with a kill from Drews.
The Irish out-hit the Boilermakers in the second, .250 – .220, but the home squad tallied two more kills and had the sets only three service aces. Drews had seven kills in the frame and hit .500.
Purdue finished off the sweep in set three as it took an early lead, held off a Notre Dame run in the middle of the set and then went to work later in the frame for a convincing 25-16 victory. The Irish trailed early, 9-4, but trimmed it to one at 12-11 after back-to-back blocks from Fry. However, the Boilermakers came out of their timeout and went on a 13-5 run to end the set. Purdue hit .429 for the final frame, as it pounded home 16 kills. The Boilermakers also recorded three service aces.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director