September 5, 1998
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - You would have to go back to 1993 to find the last time a Purdue volleyball team started its season with a 3-0 record. The 1998 Boilermakers matched that feat with two wins in the ninth-annual Mortar Board Purdue Premier in West Lafayette, today, defeating both Alabama-Birmingham and Kentucky in three games. Purdue opened its season with a 3-2 win over Central Florida on Friday night. This is the second straight year Purdue has claimed the Mortar Board title and third time overall.
"I am definitely pleased," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "Everyone really did their jobs tonight. We have spent a lot of time practicing on the skills we know will make us better and are confident we will keep going in that direction."
A total of 1,163 fans were on hand in the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility to witness Purdue claw the Wildcats in the championship match by the score of 15-10, 15-5, 15-7. Purdue was in charge from the start, as it grabbed an early lead in Game 1 and never relinquished it. Some mental miscues and casual play allowed Kentucky to make a late challenge, but the Boilers held them off to capture the 15-10 win.
The Boilers dominated Game 2, scoring points in chunks and quickly building an insurmountable 11-3 lead. Much of that run was keyed by junior middle blocker Sarah Emke, who contributed a block, a kill and two service aces. At the end of the game, a kill by senior Colleen Henican and an error by Kentucky gave Purdue the 15-5 victory.
It was more of the same in Game 3 as the Boilers jumped out to an 8-3 lead with no sign of looking back. Inspired play by junior Kelly Colangelo, including a devastating kill from a nearly impossible angle, and senior Bev Krupa helped stave off a late Wildcat rally to lift the Boilers to the game (15-7) and match victory.
"This is a great win for us and we are pretty pleased," Krupa said. "It was the first time in my four years here that we went out gunning from point 1 to point 15."
"This tournament was a lot of fun," Henican said. "It was a great team effort. We had six people on the court doing the right things at the right times, and that is what made us successful."
Though the individual statistics were not gleaming for the Boilermakers, the team numbers told the story. Despite having just one player record more than 10 kills, Purdue hit at an astounding .455 clip (43-8-77).
This error-free playing allowed Purdue to dominate the Wildcats, who could not crack .200 in any of the three games. Leading the way for the Boilers was Krupa. The Alaskan Assassin recorded a team-high 11 kills on a .471 hitting percentage (11-3-17) to go along with seven kills and a solo block. Henican added eight kills and a team-best three service aces. Junior Taryn Catlin handed out 22 assists.
Against Alabama-Birmingham, the Boilers relied on another team effort to win 15-10, 15-9, 15-2. Not one Boiler recorded more than eight kills or eight digs, but Purdue played almost flawlessly. The Boilers hit .329 (33-9-73) for the match, including .727 (8-0-11) in Game 3.
Emke, Henican and Krupa were all recognized for their outstanding performances throughout the tournament. Emke was named Most Valuable Player after totaling 31 kills, 11 blocks, eight digs and seven service aces from her middle blocker position. Henican, a transfer from Iowa State, recorded 37 kills and 20 digs in three games. Krupa tallied 42 kills and 25 digs.
"We are so proud of our entire team, but those individual honors are great, as well," Vrazel said. "Sarah had an awesome all-around tournament and Colleen and Bev were monsters on the outside. They are all very deserving of their honors."
Also honored were Central Florida's Lisa Liljenquist, Alabama-Birmingham's Shelly Greene, and Kentucky's Katie Eiserman and LaTanya Webb. Eiserman led the Wildcats against the Boilers with 10 kills. Purdue will return to the court when it competes at the University of Wyoming Cowgirl Classic on Sept. 11-12 in Laramie. Idaho State and Denver will also be competing.
"We've got to prove that we can win on neutral sites and in unfriendly confines" Vrazel said. "We need to show that we are contenders in the Big Ten and the Wyoming tournament will be a chance to prove that."