Nine sets were enough for the Boilers to sweep an entire tournament.
While hosting the Mortar Board Premier last weekend, the Purdue volleyball team took down three teams – Baylor, Virginia Commonwealth University and College of Charleston – in only three sets apiece.
This year marks the first since 2008 that Purdue both won the tournament title and started the season 3-0. It’s been even longer since the program swept all matches, which happened in 2005.
Friday night, the Boilers faced off against the Baylor Bears, which were expected to be the biggest competition in the tournament. A dominant first set, which ended 25-14, proved that the Boilers were set on starting the season right.
“Baylor’s a good team and it’s great for us to come out and play at the high level that we did,” said junior outside hitter Ariel Turner, whose 15 kills and 10 digs set Purdue’s pace.
Saturday morning brought the Boilers to the floor against the VCU Rams, who defeated College of Charleston in the tournament’s first match. A quick first set, 25-8, was followed by two that challenged the Boilers to focus and fight for each point.
By Saturday evening’s match against the College of Charleston Cougars, Purdue already had secure the tournament title, win or lose the final match. Nevertheless, the Boilers showed no signs of letting up as they took the Cougars in another three sets. Turner and senior middle blocker Tiffany Fisher each tallied 15 kills, and freshman middle blocker Kierra Jones continued an outstanding start to her collegiate career with 9 kills.
“I thought it was a really good tournament,” Fisher said. “We had a lot of good teams in here ... We had a lot of competition and I thought we played well.”
Jones was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after kicking off her collegiate career with 21 kills in three matches and quality blocking.
Turner and Fisher were awarded all-tournament team honors. Turner brought home 40 kills and 19 digs for the Boilers during the weekend, and Fisher had 28 kills and was a key factor in the final match against the Cougars.
Purdue coach Dave Shondell sees the tournament as both a way for his squad to get better and a potential advantage come postseason.
“Right now we’re just trying to get better as a team and get opportunities to play and develop,” Shondell said. “You want to win when you’re playing teams you’re supposed to beat, otherwise it affects your RPI in a negative fashion.
“I think this was a good RPI tournament for us and I think all three of those teams will have winning records at the end of the year and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see one or two of them in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Boilers will next travel to play in the Denver Invitational, where they will take on Air Force, Bryant University and Denver on Sept. 2 and 3 in Denver.