Sept. 6, 2003
HOUSTON - The arm of outside hitter Rebeca Pazo helped lift the Owls over Purdue 3-2 Saturday night in the final match of the Crowne Plaza Rice Invitational. The Owls came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the match by scores of 28-30, 24-30, 30-24, 31-29 and 15-12. Despite the loss, junior Kim McConaha (Centerville, Ind.) put her name in the record books, tallying her first career triple-double with 13 kills, 14 digs and 10 blocks. She is now the 12th Boilermaker to achieve the task.
Rice carried its momentum from games three and four into the deciding fifth game, jumping out to an early 5-1 lead. Purdue remained calm edging back into the contest and cutting the lead to one at 7-6. The Owls boosted the advantage to four at 11-7, but the Boilermakers were not done yet, cutting the lead to two at 12-10 on a block by McConaha and freshman Melanie Ukovich (Minooka, Ill.). Rice scored two of the next three bringing it to game point Owls. McConaha paused the Rice drive, but Pazo's arm clinched the match at 15-12 with her 34th kill, just one shy of her career best.
"I have no qualms about how we played tonight," head coach Dave Shondell said. "We played with pride and mental toughness, we just came up a few points short against a good team with an All-American left side hitter and she really was the difference in the match. I think we were a little bit tired by the end of the match. Because of our youth and injuries we didn't have the ability to play a variety of people. The players just had to suck it up out there, like Katie Dobson twisted her ankle and we had to keep her in the game. At some point, as this team evolves, we will win those matches, but eight days into the season, I am not disappointed."
The Owls took the early control of game one, but the Boilermakers clawed away at the 11-5 deficit turning it into a 17-15 Purdue advantage moments later. McConaha tallied two kills, a block and an ace during the turnaround. Purdue expanded the lead to three at 20-17, but Rice answered with four straight points to take a 21-10 lead. The Boilermakers bounced back to make it 24-21 after scoring four of their own behind two Kim Cappa (West Lafayette, Ind.). Purdue went up four at 27-23 but saw that lead sliced to one at 28-27, before a Leah Wischmeier (Brownstown, Ind.) kill clinched the game at 30-28.
Purdue led game one from the beginning, except for a 2-1 deficit early on. The teams traded points from that point until a tie at 5-5, then the Boilermakers scored five straight including a McConaha ace. Neither team could get a run going until the Owls went on a 5-1 tear to slice the Purdue lead to two at 23-21. After a timeout, Cappa caught fire tallying three kills over the next five Boilermaker points, leading to a 28-21 Purdue advantage. Rice then slowed the Purdue effort with a pair of points. Ukovich put the Boilermakers in position, but Rice forced a second game point before a Cappa kill, her eighth of the game, shut the door at 30-24.
After a 2-1 Boilermaker lead, game three was all Rice. The Owls went up four at 9-5, then Purdue cut the margin to two at 12-10, but Rice kept the Boilermakers at bay, expanding the lead to seven at 21-14. A timeout sparked a 5-1 Boilermaker run including a Wischmeier ace, making it 22-19. Rice answered scoring three of the next four points, but Purdue would not give in. The Boilermakers made it 25-22, but could not break through the three-point margin. The Owls claimed the game at 30-24 with three straight points.
Game four offered a rollercoaster ride for both Purdue and Rice fans. The Owls took the early lead 4-1, but Purdue worked their way back in, taking an 11-8 lead. The Boilermakers maintained their advantage, even increasing it to six at 18-12. Rice rallied to pull within one at 18-17 and eventually took a 21-20 lead following an ace and two Purdue miscues. The teams tied at 25, before the Owls scored four straight, three on kills Pazo. Purdue stuck through three game point attempts, tying it at 29. A Pazo kill and a solo block gave the Owls a 31-29 win and forced the deciding fifth game.
McConaha tallied her first career triple-double with 13 kills, 14 digs and a career-high 10 blocks, while adding four aces. Cappa led the Boilermakers with 23 kills, while Wischmeier added 14 and Ukovich put up 10. Purdue had a balanced defensive effort as sophomore Renata Dargan (New Lenox, Ill.), McConaha and freshman Andrea Kolwitz (Naperville, Ill.) each pulled up 14 digs.
McConaha, Dargan and Wischmeier were named to the all-tournament team.
"For the first time this season, I though Dargan and McConaha took control and played a gutsy match," Shondell said. "That is a real positive sign. When I talk about leadership, I mean the way you play and your presence on the court in a big match. They had the right court personalities tonight and that allowed us to play at a high level tonight."
The Boilermakers will be back in action Sept. 12 when they play host to the Mortar Board Purdue Premier which features matches with Indiana State, Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State.