WACO, Texas — For the first time, Baylor's volleyball team will play in the Elite Eight.
Top-overall seed Baylor beat No. 16 Purdue (25-12, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17) in the Sweet 16 at the Ferrell Center on Friday morning.
In the first set, Tara Wulf took the Bears on a 9-1 run to end the set, including two aces to win their 13th consecutive set, dating back to a first-set loss at West Virginia on Nov. 26. Baylor won that match 3-1.
That streak was snapped immediately, though. The Boilermakers took the second set, after Baylor thwarted two set points to make it a one-point set, late.
"I think this team just emulates the great leadership we have from our seniors," Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. "And their drive is contagious."
At that point, the Bears were out-hitting and out-acing Purdue, but a few balls bounced the wrong way.
In the third, Baylor righted the ship, taking the set and re-taking the lead. Marieke Van der Mark, just a few points after dancing to Rihanna's Pon de Replay in the huddle, ended the set with a block to put the Bears just 25 points from clinching the historic win.
"She hasn't peaked, yet," McGuyre said of his hitter's historic NCAA Tournament. "She's just going to keep getting better."
In the fourth, redshirt sophmore Van der Mark set a career high in kills, finishing with 16. She has set or tied her career high in each of Baylor's three NCAA Tournament matches.
Baylor ended the match with a .339 hitting percentage and three players with more than 10 kills: Yossiana Pressley with 15 and Gia Milana, who tied her season high with 13.
"If Baylor keeps playing like this, they're going to have a hard time getting beat," Purdue coach Dave Shondell said.
The Bears will face No. 8 Washington, which beat No. 9 Kentucky (25-16, 26-24, 15-25, 25-22), in the Elite Eight. That match is at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center in Waco.