For the first time since 2013, the No. 7-seed Purdue volleyball team has reached the Regional Final of the NCAA women's volleyball tournament.
The Boilermakers defeated No. 10 Oregon (15-5) in four sets Sunday night, surviving a third-set Ducks victory and a fourth-set slugfest. Purdue (16-6) won, 25-17, 25-16, 22-25 and 16-24.
Purdue handled the first two sets the way fans would expect the Boilers to handle a mid-tier conference opponent. The Boilermakers won each by near double-digits and never looked off balance.
Three different Boilermakers ended the match with double-digit kills, including senior outside hitter Caitlyn Newton, junior outside hitter Grace Cleveland and junior middle blocker Jael Johnson.
Junior setter Hayley Bush continued her reign of terror at the net, earning 50 assists and 21 digs. She out-dug senior libero Jena Otec, who finished the match with 17.
Oregon began to put fear in the Boilers' hearts in the third set. The Ducks held sway for the majority of the set, and they were on the brink of victory several times. Purdue staged a rally down 24-19 to prevent Oregon from taking a crucial set point. Purdue managed to get within two points, but Oregon sealed the set with a kill from Karson Bacon.
The fourth set solidified how much Oregon had the team on its heels. Purdue had to come back from a 5-point deficit in the middle of the set and only retook the lead after both teams had reached 20 points. Oregon forced Purdue to go beyond 25 points to win when it tied the match at 24, but the Boilers were able to finally put the match away with a 26-24 set victory.
Purdue retakes the court Monday at a to-be-determined time to face No. 2 Kentucky (21-1). The match will air on ESPN2. The Wildcats beat previously unbeaten Western Kentucky (23-1) in straight sets, 25-20, 25-16 and 25-10 late Sunday night.