Nov. 25, 1997

Gibbons Leads Purdue into Final Two Matches at Northwestern, Michigan

By Tom Schott

One of the bright spots for the Purdue volleyball team during the 1997 season has been the play of Katie Gibbons.

The freshman outside hitter has been one of the Boilermakers' most consistent and top all-around players. She tops the team in kills (3.57), digs (2.23) and service aces (35) and would become just the second player in the 23-year history of the Purdue volleyball program to lead in those three categories (along with All-American Debbie McDonald as a senior in 1989).

"Katie has been there for us all year," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "It didn't take her long at all to get accustomed to the college game, and she has improved every day. The most exciting thing is that we have her for three more years."

Not only has Gibbons performed well, but she also has displayed a demeanor and court sense rarely seen by first-year players.

"You will never see Katie get rattled," Vrazel said. "She is an extremely confident player, and if things aren't going well you can't tell it by her actions. She is as even-tempered a freshman as I have ever seen."

Gibbons, from Naperville, Ill., is pleased to have been able to contribute to the Boilermakers, but she doesn't get caught up in her impressive numbers that include season highs of 26 kills (the most by a first-year Purdue player since McDonald in 1986), 18 digs and seven aces (tied for fourth on Purdue's match list).

"It's been a great learning experience," Gibbons said. "My goal was just to come here and help the team and hopefully get better the more I played. The only stats that matter and wins and losses, and I know we will get better."

The Boilermakers (10-19, 3-15) close out the 1997 season this weekend at Northwestern (12-17, 3-15) on Friday and at Michigan (18-11, 11-7) on Saturday. Purdue and Northwestern are tied for ninth place in the Big Ten Conference, while Michigan is tied for fifth place with Michigan State.

Noteworthy ...

The Boilermakers will hold their annual postseason banquet Saturday, Dec. 6 at the University Inn in West Lafayette. The festivities will begin at noon. For tickets, priced at $16 each, contact the Purdue athletic ticket office at 765-494-3194 (locally) or 1-800-49-SPORT (out of town).

1997 Big Ten Conference Volleyball Standings (through Nov. 23, 1997)
Penn State      17-1    .944    28-1    .966
Wisconsin       17-1    .944    26-2    .966
Minnesota       12-6    .667    22-7    .759
Ohio State      12-6    .667    21-9    .700
Michigan State  11-7    .611    21-10   .677
Michigan        11-7    .611    18-11   .621
Illinois        6-12    .333    15-13   .536
Indiana         5-13    .278    18-13   .581
Purdue          3-15    .167    10-19   .345
Northwestern    3-15    .167    12-17   .414
Iowa            2-16    .111    9-20    .310

This Week's Schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 26
Indiana at Penn State, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 28
Ohio State at Michigan, 7 p.m.
Penn State at Michigan State, 7 p.m.
Iowa at Illinois, 8 p.m.
Minnesota at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.
Purdue at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 29
Purdue at Michigan, 7 p.m.
Indiana at Michigan State, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Illinois, 8 p.m.
Iowa at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.
Ohio State at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m.

All times EST.