Oct. 2, 1997

Purdue Travels to Iowa and Minnesota

By Tom Schott

Just two matches into the Big Ten Conference season, the Purdue volleyball team is not desperate for a win. But the Boilermakers are in dire need of one.

The Boilermakers (7-6, 0-2), who dropped a pair of four-game matches to intrastate rival Indiana and No. 1-ranked Penn State at home last weekend, travel to Iowa on Friday night and Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. The Minnesota match will be televised live by SportsChannel/Fox Sports Chicago beginning at 4 p.m.

"It's still early, but we do need to win a conference match," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "Obviously, we face an extra challenge this weekend by playing on the road, but good teams find a way to win away from home. We wanted to be 1-1 at this point, and since we're not we have to win one we weren't expecting to originally.''

Iowa (7-6, 0-2) has the same record as Purdue after losing two five-game matches to Northwestern and Michigan at home last weekend. Meanwhile, Minnesota (11-2, 1-1) rebounded from a five-game loss to Michigan last Friday to sweep Northwestern on Saturday.

"We can't worry about those teams, we just have to focus on ourselves," freshman outside hitter Katie Gibbons said. "If we do the things we should, the winning will take care of itself.''

The Boilermakers showed tremendous character in bouncing back from the disappointing loss to Indiana to give Penn State a run for the money. Purdue became just the fourth team (and first unranked opponent) to win a game against the Nittany Lions. The Hoosiers went on to defeat Ohio State in four games Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, improving to 15-0 overall and cracking the AVCA/USA Today national poll for the first time in their history this week at No. 25.

"After the Indiana loss, we could have not even showed up against Penn State, but this team isn't like that," senior setter Linda Menconi said. "We're a pretty resilient group, and we aren't going to back down from anybody. I thought playing them tough said as much about the character of this team as anything all season.''

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Connie Paul put together back-to-back solid matches last weekend. She posted career highs of 19 kills and a .516 hitting percentage (19-3-31) to go with five blocks and seven digs against the Hoosiers, then had 12 kills and seven digs against the Nittany Lions.

"Connie was awesome," Vrazel said. "There's no question that she is extremely important to our success. I think she's in for a great season."

1997 Big Ten Conference Volleyball Standings

(through Oct. 1, 1997)
                Big Ten     Overall
Michigan        3-0 1.000   10-4   .714
Indiana         2-0 1.000   15-0  1.000
Penn State      2-0 1.000   13-0  1.000
Wisconsin       2-0 1.000   11-1   .917
Minnesota       1-1  .500   11-2   .846
Michigan State  1-1  .500   11-4   .733
Northwestern    1-2  .333   10-4   .714
Illinois        0-2  .000    9-3   .750
Ohio State      0-2  .000    9-5   .643
PURDUE          0-2  .000    7-6   .538
Iowa            0-2  .000    7-6   .538
This Week's Results and Remaining Schedule 
Wednesday, Oct. 1
Michigan def. Northwestern 15-10, 15-7, 15-11 (at Ann Arbor) 
Friday, Oct. 3
Michigan State at Michigan, 6 p.m.
Illinois at Penn State, 6:30 p.m.
Purdue at Iowa, 7 p.m.
Ohio State at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Wisconsin at Indiana, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 4
Wisconsin at Penn State, 6:30 p.m.
Ohio State at Iowa, 7 p.m.
Illinois at Indiana, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 5
Michigan State at Northwestern, 2 p.m.
Purdue at Minnesota, 4 p.m. (SportsChannel/Fox Sports Chicago) 
All times EST.