Sept. 18, 1997
Volleyball Prepares for North Carolina and Duke on the Road
Purdue volleyball coach Joey Vrazel knew the Boilermakers' 1997 non-conference schedule would challenge her team both in terms of the competition and the travel involved. During the first three weeks of the season, the Boilermakers have played teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Western Athletic Conference while venturing from Florida to Utah. They have flown nearly 6,000 miles. This weekend will be more of the same for Purdue (6-3), which plays North Carolina on Friday and Duke on Saturday and travels 1,200 miles round trip to do so. Both matches will be played in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Michigan also will play the two Tar Heel State schools in an unofficial Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Friday matches originally were scheduled for Durham, N.C., but renovations to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium floor are not complete.
"There's no question we have been tested so far both by playing a wide range of teams and taking some pretty long road trips," Vrazel said. "But we set up the schedule that way on purpose to get us ready for the Big Ten season. Conference play can be grueling, and this schedule should have us prepared."
Senior co-captain Sarina Harris believes the time spent on the road also has been a tremendous benefit to the team's chemistry.
"We had been able to spend a lot of time together, which is good," Harris said. "We have five freshmen on the team, and it's been good to get to know them better and let them get to know the upperclassmen better."
The Boilermakers, who are riding a short two-match losing streak, continue to be an offensive machine. One year after setting a school season record and ranking 12th in the nation in kills, they are swinging away again. Purdue is averaging 17.00 kills per game (17.36 a year ago). Sophomores Kelly Colangelo and Sarah Emke top the team with 3.90 kills per game apiece, while freshman Katie Gibbons is at 3.63 and junior Bev Krupa is at 2.83.
"We love to hit," Colangelo said. "Everyone has contributed and made an impact. The difference this year is we have more weapons. Last season is was mostly Brooke (White) and Lauri (Grimes), but now we have a lot of options." Vrazel's biggest concern entering the final weekend of non-conference play is the Boilermakers' blocking. They are averaging a respectable 2.07 blocks per game but have been beaten in that category in each of their three losses (to Florida State, Weber State and Utah). Emke leads the way at 1.17 blocks per game.
"We have worked on blocking a lot in practice this week and are showing signs of getting better," Vrazel said. "Blocking is always the last part of the game to come around, but we have to start having more of a presence at the net."
North Carolina (5-4) and Duke (4-6) have played tough schedules to this point, which account for their less-than-stellar records.
Purdue/Michigan vs. North Carolina/Duke at Chapel Hill, N.C. Friday Purdue vs. North Carolina, 4 p.m. Michigan vs. Duke, 6 p.m. Saturday Purdue vs. Duke, 4 p.m. Michigan vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m. Radio: Updates on WAZY (96.5 FM) 1997 Big Ten Conference Volleyball Standings (through Sept. 16, 1997) Big Ten Overall Indiana 0-0 Q 10-0 1.000 Penn State 0-0 Q 9-0 1.000 Wisconsin 0-0 Q 8-0 1.000 Illinois 0-0 Q 8-1 .889 Minnesota 0-0 Q 7-1 .875 Northwestern 0-0 Q 9-2 .818 Iowa 0-0 Q 7-2 .778 Michigan State 0-0 Q 7-3 .700 PURDUE 0-0 Q 6-3 .667 Ohio State 0-0 Q 6-3 .667 Michigan 0-0 Q 5-4 .556