TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 15 Purdue volleyball team battled for back-to-back wins against Southern Miss and No. 25 Alabama in the opening day of the Crimson and White Tournament. The Boilermakers defeated the Eagles, 3-2 (27-29, 26-24, 25-16, 23-25, 21-19), before handing the Crimson Tide its first loss of the season with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-15) victory in the tournament's last match of the day.
Against Southern Miss, Purdue received career-best performances from seniors Sherridan Atkinson (25 kills) and Brooke Peters (32 digs), redshirt junior Blake Mohler (21 kills), redshirt freshman Hayley Bush (62 assists/17 digs) and freshman Marissa Hornung (14 digs).
In Purdue's match against the Crimson Tide, the Boilermakers were guided by Atkinson with 10 kills, Bush with 37 assists and Peters with 17 digs and three service aces.
With the wins Purdue improves to 10-0 on the season, its best marks since 2011, when the Boilermakers went 14-0 to start the year.
Match One: Purdue 3, Southern Miss 2
Southern Miss opened the match with an early lead, going up by as much as four (8-4) after a pair of Purdue errors, but the Boilermakers answered with a 4-1 rally tying the set at 10. The teams battled back-and-forth for remainder of the set, tying the frame 15 times. With the score knotted at 27, a kill from USM's Ashley Berry and a Purdue attacking error ended the set in favor of the Eagles, 29-27.
The Eagles carried their momentum into the second set, claiming an 11-9 advantage, forcing Purdue to a timeout. Regrouped, an Atkinson putaway ignited a 6-1 run for the Boilermakers. The senior delivered six more kills and four blocks to keep Purdue in the set. Purdue and USM traded the lead six times, tying the score at 24, when back-to-back kills from Mohler sealed the set victory for Purdue. The junior tallied nine putaways in the frame.
In the third set, Purdue's defense limited the Eagles' offense to a .143 hitting percentage, while the Boilermakers' front line hammered out 17 kills to USM's eight. Purdue maintained control and cruised to a 25-16 finish.
The Boilermakers strung together a 9-4 advantage to open the fourth set, but the Eagles kept it close. Exchanging runs, the teams tied the set at 20. The tie was broken with a kill from USM's Ashley Berry, while the Eagles grabbed four of the last seven points to claim the set, 25-23.
With the match tied 2-2, Southern Miss rallied to a 6-2 advantage, but a kill from Atkinson sparked a 5-1 Purdue run to knot the set at 12. The teams went point-for-point tying the set once more at 19, but a USM setting error and a Peters ace ended the match as Purdue captured the final frame, 21-19 and the match, 3-2.
Match Two: Purdue 3, Alabama 0
The opening set was a back-and-forth affair with six tie scores before the 15-point mark. After four more tie scores, a kill from Mohler and a service ace from Reisginer pushed Purdue to a 24-22 lead and Alabama to its second timeout of the set. The Boilermakers held their advantage with a Crimson Tide attacking error, claiming the first set, 25-22.
Alabama opened the second set with a 7-4 advantage, only to the have the Boilermakers tie the set at 11, 12 and 13. Back-to-back kills from Atkinson and Cuttino broke the tie while Purdue maintained control the rest of the way with a .341 hitting clip. A pair of Alabama miscues secured the set for the Boilermakers, 25-19.
In the third set, the Boilermakers posted a .452 hitting percentage and held the Crimson Tide to only nine kills and a .088 hitting clip. Behind five kills from Atkinson and Newton, Purdue opened the frame with a 10-5 lead and never looked back. The Boilermakers closed out the set scoring four of the final five points to take the set 25-15 and the match 3-0. Purdue's victory snapped an 11-match winning streak for Alabama.
Purdue is set to conclude the Crimson and White tournament with a noon matchup against South Alabama on Saturday.