September 11, 1998
LARAMIE, Wyo. - It was a day of dichotomies for the Purdue volleyball team. Despite the duality, Purdue came away with two victories in the opening day of play in the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. The Boilers steamrolled the Bengals of Idaho State in their first match 15-4, 15-6, 15-9, in just over one hour of play. In the afternoon, however, Purdue needed five games and almost two hours to down the Denver Pioneers 15-9, 10-15, 6-15, 15-1, 15-3. The wins improve Purdue's record to 5-0, the first time a Boiler team has begun their season so prodigiously since 1993.
"It was great for us to get these two wins," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "Some people stepped up and made big contributions today. We are excited to be 5-0 and are looking forward to playing Wyoming for the championship."
Purdue used precise hitting to overpower the Bengals. The Boilers stormed out in Game 1 with a .593 hitting percentage (17-1-27) behind four kills by outside hitter Bev Krupa. Despite being down 0-2 in the early going, reserve setter Amy Schweitzer entered the game and served Purdue into an 8-2 lead. Purdue stayed in control from there and closed out the match with four straight points for the 15-4 win.
Purdue was proficient in Game 2, as well, hitting .306 (15-4-36). The Boilers were ahead 7-5 when they rattled off six consecutive points on two kills by Colleen Henican and four Bengal errors to go up 13-5. After a number of sideouts and a Bengal point, Purdue finished the match off 15-6.
Game 3 was a bit more nip-and-tuck, as the Boilers and Bengals were knotted 8-8 at the midpoint. A timeout called by Vrazel, however, re-energized Purdue, which immediately earned a sideout and went on a 7-1 run to post a 15-9 victory.
Henican led the Boilers with 16 kills, but Krupa was Purdue's offensive and defensive star. The co-captain recorded 14 kills on a .478 hitting percentage (14-3-23), while coming up with a team-leading 14 digs. Sarah Emke tallied 11 kills and two blocks. As a team, Purdue hit at a .415 clip (61-12-118).
The Boilers had more of a struggle with the Pioneers, however. Despite winning Game 1 15-9 with a solid offensive effort (23 kills, .327 hitting percentage), Purdue looked sluggish in Game 2. The Boilers jumped out to a 7-1 lead, but Denver responded with an 11-1 run to take a 12-8 advantage. Purdue fought back to 10-12, but it was not enough.
Purdue, saddled by errors, could not get on track in Game 3. The Boilers, who led at only one point in the game (3-2), hit -.143 with just five kills against 10 errors. Denver hit only .182 (8-4-22), but it was more than enough to come away with the 15-6 win.
"Our backs were up against the wall after we lost Game 3," Krupa said. "But we regrouped and refocused and came out a lot tougher in Game 4. We knew we had to make a major turnaround to win and we did that." The Boilers picked up the intensity in Game 4, hitting .667 (11-1-15) en route to a 15-1 victory, forcing a rally-scoring fifth game. Having seized the momentum in the contest, Purdue coasted through Game 5. The Boilers ran out to a 5-3 lead and scored the next 10 points to claim the game and match victory.
Krupa had her second double-double of the day, recording a team-high 15 kills and 14 digs. Henican added 12 kills and 13 digs, while Kelly Colangelo notched 18 digs, one shy of her career best.
"I'm really proud of the way we hung in there," Vrazel said. "This team has a lot of character and showed it will not give up no matter what the circumstances are. We have good heart and that doesn't show up on the stat sheet."
The Boilermakers, who are looking for their second straight tournament title this season after winning the Mortar Board Purdue Premier in West Lafayette last weekend, will face host Wyoming in the final match of the tournament tomorrow at 1 p.m.
"Wyoming is a big blocking team so we are going to have to make even better decisions against them," Vrazel said. "A win on their court will be big for us."