Aug. 29, 2003
sT. LOUIS - The Boilermaker volleyball team kicked off the 2003 campaign with a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Saint Louis University at the Billiken Invitational. The win not only offered a nice start to the season, but brought head coach Dave Shondell his first collegiate coaching victory.
Purdue dropped the first game 30-24 after trailing the Billikens from start to finish. The team maintained its composure and after a few personnel changes bounced back to take the match with scores of 30-18, 30-25 and 30-18.
"When we lost the first game, I am sure that we had some longtime Purdue fans wondering if it was going to be the same old thing," Shondell said. "But, emotionally we held together nicely and stayed positive. We made a couple of lineup changes and put (Katie) Dobson in to play at the middle position in game two. She started us off with some great serves and soon after we were ahead 5-1. From that point on, we were pretty much in control of the match."
After starting game two with a 6-1 lead, Purdue extended its advantage to as many as 15 behind four aces and a .296 hitting percentage. Junior Kim McConaha (Centerville, Ind.) provided five kills in the game, while redshirt sophomore Leah Wischmeier (Brownstown, Ind.) served up back-to-back aces to give Purdue a 22-7 lead. The match evened at one game apiece as Wischmeier and freshman Katie Dobson (Indianapolis, Ind.) combined for the game-winning block.
The Boilermakers jumped out to an early lead in game three, but allowed the Billikens to catch up briefly at 10-10 before putting it away at 30-25 on a SLU service error. Purdue hit .316 to SLU's .167 in the game while outblocking the opponents 4-1. Junior Kim Cappa (West Lafayette, Ind.) added five kills in the game, while sophomore Renata Dargan (New Lenox, Ill.) provided a steady hand from the setter position.
Purdue went up 2-0 to begin the fourth game and never looked back allowing the Billikens to cut the lead to one point just twice in the game. The Boilermakers capped the night with a 6-0 run to clinch the match. Sophomore Jennifer Orlowski
served up her first ace as a Boilermaker, while three other players contributed kills in the run. Dargan put the final nail in SLU's coffin with her ninth kill of the night.
Cappa led the Boilermakers with 15 kills and a .462 hitting percentage, while McConaha added 13 kills, nine digs and six blocks. Junior Daren Poe (Martinsville, Ind.) pulled up 16 digs in the winning effort. Purdue tallied nine aces including two each by Cappa and Wischmeier, while outhitting the Billikens .248 to .120. The team also racked up 59 kills to SLU's 50 and 12 blocks to SLU's nine.
"I think this win shows how we are starting off the new season and it is a step in the right direction," Cappa said. "The first game didn't go as well as we had hoped but I think we really showed how well we can step it up and come back from adversities."
The win marked the seventh time the Boilermakers have won their season opener in the last eight seasons. Purdue also improved its opening day record to 22-6 all time and its series record to 2-0 over the Billikens.
"This is a big win for Purdue volleyball," Shondell said. "Saint Louis is a good program coming off a great season. They certainly lost some great contributors but they were 11-1 in this gym last year. They are accustomed to winning. I just knew this was a huge match for us to win. To lose a game and be challenged and then win the next three in fairly commanding style should tell people that we are getting better and are a team that can beat good squads. The way we did it should also build our confidence going into tomorrow and the rest of the season."
The Boilermakers return to action at 11 a.m. Saturday with a match against William & Mary.