Sept. 13, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - In a battle for intrastate pride as well as the Mortar Board Purdue Premier tournament title, Purdue took no chances, sweeping Indiana State 3-0 with scores of 30-19, 30-17 and 30-25 moving its record to 7-2 on the season and taking its own tournament title.
Purdue scored the first point of game one on a kill by Kim Cappa (West Lafayette, Ind.) and except for a tie at one, never looked back. The Boilermakers went up by two at 6-5, then scored five straight to make it 11-5. The Sycamores answered with a 3-1 run, slicing the lead to four. Purdue put together a 7-2 run, including a pair of Kim McConaha (Centerville, Ind.) service aces, to make it 19-10. The Boilermakers then extended their lead to 12 at 25-13 on a kill by freshman Melanie Ukovich (Minooka, Ill.). ISU cut the point margin to 10, but that was as close as they would get. A block by Ukovich and freshman Katie Dobson (Indianapolis, Ind.) set up Purdue's first game-point attempt at 29-18. The Sycamores posted a block to delay the inevitable, but a Dobson kill closed the door at 30-19. Purdue hit .500 in the game, as not a single Boilermaker hit under .300.
The momentum carried on for the Boilermakers in game two as Purdue posted a 30-17 victory. The Boilermakers scored first on a Ukovich kill and took control of the game from that point on. Sophomore Jen Orlowski (LaPorte, Ind.) served up an ace to make it 3-1, but that was just the beginning for Purdue. The lead exploded to eight at 11-3, including four kills by sophomore Renata Dargan (New Lenox, Ill.). A 7-2 Purdue run made it 18-5, but the Boilermakers could not put the game away just yet. The teams each racked up 12 points over the final minutes of the match, but Purdue reached its first game-point attempt at 29-16. Again Indiana State held the Boilermakers off for a moment, but Dargan sealed the deal with a kill to make it 30-17.
Game three offered a different flavor as Indiana State took its first lead of the match at 5-4. The teams battled back and forth for the next several minutes. Purdue took a 10-8 lead, but that soon turned into a 12-10 deficit. Purdue tied it at 13 and 14, before taking the lead for good. Purdue scored four straight to make it 20-15 forcing a Sycamore timeout. ISU scored the first point following the break, but the Boilermakers answered with three of its own. The point margin swelled to seven at 23-16, but the Sycamores would not give up, cutting the lead to three at 26-23. The teams traded two point rallies setting up a 28-25 Purdue lead. An ISU service error and a block by redshirt sophomore Leah Wischmeier (Brownstown, Ind.) and Dobson gave the Boilermakers the victory and the tournament title with a 30-25 win.
Wischmeier led the Boilermakers with a .571 hitting percentage, racking up a team-high 13 kills, while committing just one error in 21 attempts. Ukovich and Dargan each tallied 11 kills in the match, both hitting over .400 as well. Wischmeier added a team-high eight digs and two service aces in the match. McConaha and freshman Andrea Kolwitz (Naperville, Ill.) also served up two aces for Purdue. McConaha led the Boilermakers with five blocks. ISU's Kylee Osborne led all hitters with 14 kills and the Sycamores' Meghan Pollard picked up a match-high 13 digs.
"When Mel Ukovich plays the way she played this weekend, we are going to hit at a higher percentage, because she went from where she was fairly invisible offensively to where she was MVP of the tournament," head coach Dave Shondell said. "It takes a lot of pressure off the left side hitters, who have been working hard to keep their heads above water. It opens up a lot of things for them and they were able to relax a bit. Mostly, I think it was just the emergence of Melanie Ukovich that made us a much better team."
Ukovich was named Mortar Board MVP, while Dargan and McConaha received all-tournament team honors. Osborne and teammate Brittany Stowell were named to the all-tournament team along with Middle Tennessee State's Andressa Lyra and Mississippi State's Jennifer Rousey.
"I was really excited to play at home for the first time and that really fired me up," Ukovich said. "I knew I had to do well and I really focused on that. Being named MVP was really cool for me because when they announced that Kim (McConaha) and Renata (Dargan) made the all-tournament team, I figured someone else had gotten MVP. I didn't even think that I could be me. I thought, `next year I can get it and make the all-tournament team'. I didn't even realize I could be MVP and then they said my name and I said, `hey, that's me.'"
Purdue returns to action Wednesday night, when the team travels to South Bend for a 7 p.m. meeting with Notre Dame. The Boilermakers lead the series 11-6, including a thrilling five-game victory last year.
"We have to look at some tape and figure out what they are doing," Shondell said of the Fighting Irish. "We had a good scouting report on both teams today, but we have to have the best report possible against Notre Dame, because we are playing a team with more talent than we have, in their gym, and they are angry after what happened last year. It will be a real challenge, but that is what we are here for. It will be a great opportunity for us to see how good we are."