Women's Volleyball

Volleyball Sets Off for St. Louis

Sept. 1, 2015

Marcia E. Hamilton Classic / Chaifetz Arena
Sept. 4-5 / Chaifetz Arena / St. Louis, Mo.

Tournament Central / Game Notes

Purdue vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 / 5:30 p.m.
Live Stats / Live Audio

Purdue vs. No. 12 BYU
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 / 1 p.m.
Live Stats / Live Audio

Purdue at Saint Louis
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 / 8 p.m.
Live Stats / Live Audio / Live Video

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The No. 24 Boilermakers hit the road for the first time in 2015, heading to St. Louis for the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic. Purdue will face off with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, No. 12 BYU and Saint Louis as senior outside hitter Sam Epenesa returns home. The Glen Carbon, Ill., native will be playing just over 20 miles from her home.

At First Glance: No. 24 Purdue (3-0) is looking to build on a perfect opening weekend, when they head to St. Louis for the first of a two-week road swing. The Boilermakers are looking to best its fifth place Big Ten finish, add a sixth-straight 20 win season and return to the NCAA Tournament in 2015 with a roster featuring 11 returning letterwinners, one redshirt and four newcomers. Head coach Dave Shondell is in his 13th season with the team.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers went 3-0 on opening weekend, sweeping VCU, Austin Peay and Ohio en route to the Mortar Board Premier title. Purdue went 22-10 and finished fifth in the Big Ten in 2014, but was left out of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitters Azariah Stahl and Annie Drews paced the Boilermaker offense on opening weekend with 3.75 and 3.67 kills per set respectively. Outside hitters Sam Epenesa (2.25) and Alexa Smith (2.00) and middle blockers Faye Adelaja (1.89) and Danielle Cuttino (1.56) also contributed nearly two kills per set. Adelaja hit at a team-best .484 clip and added 0.89 blocks per set, while Cuttino put up a team-leading 1.33 stuff per stanza. Drews also aiding the team at the net with 0.78 blocks per set.

Defensively, libero Amanda Neill pulled up 3.33 digs per set and served up a team-best six aces. Setter Ashley Evans added 2.00 digs per set to go with her 11.33 assists per set tally. Drews managed 1.89 digs per set and five aces. Freshman Brooke Peters added 1.11 digs per set and served up six aces. As a team, Purdue hit at a .319 clip and served up 22 aces.

In 2014, honorable mention All-American outside hitter Annie Drews paced the Boilermaker offense with 3.92 kills per set. Sam Epenesa (2.43), Faye Adelaja (1.97), and freshmen Azariah Stahl (1.75) and Danielle Cuttino (1.71) also return after managing nearly two kills per set. Cuttino, a Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree, led the Boilers at the net, averaging 1.01 blocks per set. Defensively, libero Amanda Neill pulled up 3.66 digs per set, while setter/outside hitter Ashley Evans (2.34) and redshirt sophomore Kate Workman (1.89) also return. As a team, Purdue hit at a .257 clip and served up 117 aces, including 24 by freshman Lydia Dimke, 19 by Neill, 18 by Evans, 13 by Workman and 11 by Drews.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: This is the first meeting between the Boilermakers and the Golden Lions.

BYU (BYU leads the series 3-1): The Cougars have won three of the previous four meetings with the Boilermakers, in the series which dates back to a Dec. 9, 1978, meeting at the AIAW National Tournament. The teams met again in the 1979 AIAW tournament, where Purdue won 2-0, in Provo, Utah in 1987 and most recently in 2001 at the Point Husky Invitational in Seattle in 2001.

Saint Louis (Purdue leads the series 5-1): The Boilermakers won the first five meetings in the series with the Billikens from 2000 to 2008, but SLU snapped the streak with a five-set win in West Lafayette at the Active Ankle Challenge on Sept. 19, 2014.

If the Boilermakers top Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday:

• They will move to 4-0 on the season for the second straight season, the seventh time in the Shondell era and 16th time in program history.

• They will improve to 287-149 all-time when playing in the month of September, including a 10-2 mark when playing on Sept. 4. The Boilermakers last played on Sept. 4 in 2010, taking a pair of matches from Pittsburgh and Tulane at the Pittsburgh Invitational.

At First Glance: The Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (0-3) bring a roster featuring 10 returning letterwinners, including four starters, to Saint Louis this weekend. UAPB posted a 12-21 record and finished second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference western division in 2014 .The Golden Lions are coached by Dustin Sahlmann, who is in his first season with the team.

Last Time Out: UAPB went 0-3 on opening weekend at the Bulldog Classic in Starkville, Miss. The Golden Lions fell to Mississippi State, Southern Utah and Louisiana-Monroe all via sweep.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Alexis Smith (1.5), Kayla Dowdell (1.44) and Natalie Gibbs (1.25) led the Golden Lions on opening weekend with more than a kill per set. Dowdell registered a team-best six kills against Louisiana-Monroe, while Smith posted a team-high five against Mississippi State. Gibbs chipped in five kills against ULM, and leads the team with a.285 hitting percentage.Smith also contributed 1.5 digs per set and two aces to the team's tally.

Defensively, libero Courtney Brand led the way with 3.33 digs per set, including two double-digit efforts. Defenisve specialist Jade Sanlin (1.77), Smith (1.50), Gibbs (1.50) and setter Katy Hufnogel (1.44) follow. At the net, outside hitter Lauren Corby paced the team with 0.85 blocks per set, followed by Whitney Harris, a 2014 SWAC second team selection, who added 0.77 stuffs per set. As a team, UAPB is hitting at a -0.018 clip and has served up six aces.

The Golden Lions return four players that averaged nearly 1.5 kills per set in 2014: Dowdell (1.85), Harris (1.83), Corby (1.57) and outside hitter Ayanna Parker (1.43). Harris also added 18 aces and a team-leading 0.76 blocks per set. Defensively, Brand is back after posting 3.30 digs per set. Parker added 2.01 digs per set in 2014. As a team, UAPB hit at a .132 clip and served up 109 aces.

At First Glance: The BYU Cougars (2-1) look to get back on the winning track against Saint Louis on Friday night after dropping their finale at the Baden Invitational last weekend. The Cougars return 10 letterwinners, including five starters, from the 2014 team which finished first in the West Coast Conference and advanced to the NCAA Championship match before falling to Penn State. BYU is coached by Heather Olmstead, who is in her first year with the team.

Last Time Out: BYU went 2-1 at the Women of Troy Baden Invitational in Los Angeles last weekend, topping Chicago State (3-0) and No. 7 North Carolina (3-1), but falling to USC (3-0). The Cougars are coming off a national runner-up finish in 2014.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Alexa Gray paced the Cougars with 4.00 kills per set on opening weekend. Middle blocker Amy Boswell (2.10), outside hitters Cosy Burnett (2.00) and outside hitter Veronica Jones (1.70) and Whitney Howard (1.50) rounded out the offense. Howard hit at a team-best .387 clip and Boswell managed a .312 efficiency. The pair also led the team at the net as Boswell put up 1.90 blocks per set and Howard chipped in 1.00 stuffs per set.

Defensively, libero Ciara Parker led the way with 4.70 digs per set. Setter Camry Willardson added 2.10 digs per set to her 9.20 assists per set, while defensive specialist Jaiden Achermann chipped in 1.80 digs per set and a team-best five aces. As a team, BYU is hitting at a .193 clip and has served up 19 aces.

The Cougars must replace top hitter Jennifer Hamson (3.83 kills per set, 28 aces and 1.35 blocks per set) and Tambre Nobles (2.12 kps, 1.89 dps and 17 aces), but Gray is back after putting down 3.66 kills per set in 2014. The team's top blockers, Young and Boswell also return after posting 1.89 and 1.68 stuffs per set. Parker brings back her 4.01 digs per set as well. As a team, the Cougars hit .271 and served up 150 aces.

At First Glance: The Saint Louis Billikens (1-3) faced off with North Dakota State in their home opener on Monday night, falling 3-1. SLU returns 12 letterwinners, including all seven starters, from the 2014 team which posted a 21-10 record and finished third in the Atlantic 10. The Billikens welcome four newcomers to their roster. Saint Louis is coached by Kent Miller, who is in his sixth year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Billikens went 1-2 on opening weekend at the Redhawk Invitational in Cape Girardeau, Mo., topping Southeast Missouri State, but falling to UMKC in five sets and to Arkansas State via sweep. SLU played its home opener against North Dakota State on Monday and lost 3-1.

Statistically Speaking: Outside hitter Danielle Rygelski paced the Billikens on opening weekend, putting down 3.57 kills per set and managing 3.14 digs per set and a team-best eight aces. Middle blockers Lauren Levenz (2.81) and Taylor Paulson (2.19) and outside hitter Nenye Okoro (1.87) also chipped in nearly two kils per set. Paulson put up a team-best 0.94 blocks per set.

Defensively, Okoro pulled up a team-leading 3.73 digs per set, followed by defensive specialist Mackenzie Long (3.19) and Rygelski (3.14) and middle blocker Megan Gilbert (2.13). As a team, SLU has hit at a .199 clip and served up 18 aces.

The Billikens return their top five hitters from 2014, all of which averaged more than two kills per set, in Rygelski (3.62), Okoro (2.97), Gilbert (2.78), Leverenz (2.21) and Paulson (2.00). Rygelski also added 33 aces and 2.34 digs per set, while Okoro chipped in 2.64 digs per set. Paulson is back after leading the team at the net with 1.03 blocks per set. The team must replace libero Anna Church's 4.04 digs per set, but has Rygelski, Okoro, Long (2.00) and setter Meredith Boe (1.87) returning after averaging nearly two digs per set. Long also served up a team-best 34 aces. As a team, SLU hit .239 and served up 194 aces in 2014.

Purdue moved up three spots to No. 24 in the August 31 poll, after being listed as the second leading vote getter outside of the AVCA Top 25 in the preseason coaches' poll.

The ranking is the team's first since the Dec. 1, 2014, poll. The Boilermakers fell out of the AVCA Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 29, 2010, dropping from No. 24 in the Dec. 1 poll to receiving votes in the final 2014 rankings. The Boilers were No. 8 in the 2014 preseason rankings, marking the highest in program history, ahead of the No. 9 listing to start the 2012 season. The No. 7 ranking on Sept. 1, 2014, matched the highest in program lore, duplicating the team's poll position on Nov. 14, 1983, and Aug. 27, 2012.

Purdue was ranked in the Top 25 throughout the 2014 regular season, peaking with the No. 7 ranking, and had been ranked in 61 consecutive polls dating to Nov. 29, 2010. Purdue has been ranked 161 times since the AVCA polls began in 1982, including preseason and postseason listings.

The Boilermakers served up 22 aces on opening weekend, including a five-ace effort from libero Amanda Neill in the opener against VCU. The performance marked the first time a Purdue player had served up five or more aces since Sam Epenesa did so with five against Alabama A&M on Aug. 31, 2013.

The Boilermakers have won their season opening match 12 of the last 13 years , including 2015, and 33 times in the program's 41-year history. Dave Shondell's teams have been 3-0 after opening weekend eight times since 2004. Shondell's teams have started the year 6-0 or better five times: 7-0 in 2014, 14-0 in 2011, 7-0 in 2008, 9-0 in 2006 and 11-0 in 2005. The team's 18-3 start through 21 matches in 2014 marked the best under head coach Dave Shondell, tying the 2011 and 2005 seasons.

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