IU entered Wednesday night’s match starving for its first victory in a home finale since 2010, but the Hoosiers would be denied in their quest as Purdue claimed the win in five sets (21-25, 25-15, 25-15, 18-25, 15-7).
“This match showed us the core of our team and how we really fight a lot,” senior outside hitter Allison Hammond said. “We have three games left, and we need to win all three, but it was a good feeling fighting like that.”
Purdue took advantage of a 5-0 scoring run midway through the first set to move ahead 16-11, but IU would storm back with a 6-1 run of its own to tie the score and force Purdue to call timeout, much to the elation of the home crowd.
The Hoosiers refused to allow their comeback attempt to go to waste, and behind a service ace from freshman Meaghan Koors on a set point, took the first set 25-21.
This marked the first time IU has won a set against Purdue since Oct. 11, 2014.
The Boilermakers responded with a fury and never let IU get close in the second set, winning 25-15. The Hoosiers did not own a single lead, only tying Purdue twice, at 3-3 and 4-4.
Junior middle blocker Danielle Cuttino paved the way for the Boilermakers and provided 11 kills on a .421 hitting percentage through the first two sets. She would finish with 20 kills in the match.
IU had a remarkably balanced offensive attack early on as Hammond, sophomore right side hitter Jessica Admire and freshman outside hitter Kendall Beerman each contributed a team-leading five kills through the second set. Sophomore right side hitter Elizabeth Asdell and freshman middle blocker Deyshia Lofton added four kills apiece in that span.
IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan’s locker room speech to her team at the intermission reignited the Hoosiers, and they returned with the same intensity they showed in the first set. However, Purdue owned the third set after IU took an 8-7 lead, winning 25-15.
IU jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the fourth set, prompting Purdue to call timeout. After a brief run by the Boilermakers, the Hoosiers got back on track and extended their lead back up to five, 13-8.
On the ensuing play, IU’s Beerman went down with a right ankle injury and would be removed from the match with 11 kills to her name. The redshirt freshman missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL in her left knee and entered the match ranked second among Big Ten freshmen in hitting percentage and fifth in kills.
The Hoosiers continued to play fiercely and forced a fifth set after taking the fourth, 25-18. This was only the third time all season IU has gone the distance, and just the first since conference play began.
But it didn’t keep the momentum going.
“I thought we got soft in the fifth set,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “You can’t play the game like that. You have to stay on it and be aggressive.”
Purdue cruised to a 15-7 victory to close out the match.
“Sometimes you go into a locker room after a loss and it’s very depressing, but tonight it felt like the kids were more motivated,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “There was no crying, no heads being held low. They knew it was a good match and they’re ready to get back to practice. That’s the sign of a resilient team.”
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An official starting time will be released at a later date.