8/29/21 Kansas, Grace Cleveland

Senior outside hitter Grace Cleveland extends to hit the ball over Kansas’ blocker.

An early hot start came to a close against what was arguably Purdue’s toughest challenge of the season.

A four-team tournament featuring then-No. 6 Purdue (5-1), then-No. 10 Louisville (8-0), Lipscomb (1-6) and Xavier (4-4) ended in just one closely contested match. The Musketeers and Bison duked it out for five straight sets, with the Musketeers winning by just 3 points in the last frame.

Every other match ended in a 3-0 sweep. The closest of the three dominating wins came in Purdue’s compensation match against Lipscomb, where the Boilermakers won by just 3 points in the first two sets.

The Cardinals, whose only set losses had come against Arizona State (6-3) at the end of August, played arguably their best weekend of the season against Purdue and Xavier. They won their sets by an average of 9 points.

Lipscomb

The same day the Boilermaker football team took a 49-0 victory over UConn, Purdue volleyball ended its weekend with a 3-0 sweep over the Bison.

While Purdue struggled to find its rhythm in the opening two sets, winning by 3 points each, the Boilermakers finally sealed the game with an 8-point set victory in the third.

Purdue managed to hit for 52 kills, eight higher than Lipscomb. Three players combined for 85% of their combined kill production. Senior setter Hayley Bush served 42 assists, her second-highest total since a 45-assist performance against the Washington State Cougars (3-4).

Louisville

Before that performance, though, Purdue endured a heartbreak.

The Boilers’ four-match winning streak, one that saw them lose just one set to Loyola Marymount (7-1), finally came to an end against the eventual Xavier University Tournament champion Cardinals.

Two Louisville players hit for double-digit kills in a dominant offensive performance. Sophomore outside hitter Anna Debeer hit for 12, while graduate student outside hitter Anna Stevenson hit 11 with a .611 hitting percentage.

Purdue’s offense managed to counter it with 33 kills of its own. Senior outside hitters Grace Cleveland and Caitlyn Newton combined for 20 kills on a 0.189 hitting percentage.

Bush tallied 25 assists, her lowest total in the season, behind a slower offensive performance from the Boilermakers. Purdue hit a .124 hit percentage, its lowest of the season, while dishing its lowest assists total and hitting its third-lowest amount digs total for the year.

Purdue will play its next match against Jacksonville State (9-1) in the fifth edition of the “Stacey Clark Classic.” The series is dedicated to honoring the Gold Block booster club president and 23-year volleyball season ticket holder.

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