Sept. 18, 2005
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker volleyball team wrapped up the Mortar Board Premier with a 3-0 sweep of No. 16 Tennessee Saturday night. With the 30-26, 30-22, 30-26 win, Purdue claimed the tournament title and moved to 11-0 on the season for the first time since 1985.
The Boilermakers opened the match with kills by senior Renata Dargan (New Lenox, Ill.) and freshman Stephanie Lynch (New Albany, Ind.) as well as an ace by sophomore Lizzie Jacques (Winfield, Ill.). Purdue led by three at 3-0 and 4-1, but Tennessee tied the score at 4-4 on an ace by Yuliya Stoyanova. The Boilermakers scored seven of the next nine points including an ace by sophomore Annie Mastandrea (Downers Grove, Ill.) to take an 11-6 lead. The Lady Vols scored five of the next six to pull within one at 12-11. The close score prompted a 4-0 Boilermaker run, which included a pair of kills by Lynch and another ace by Jacques, to move the score to 16-11. Tennessee cut the margin to one at 17-16 and 18-17, but Purdue would not let up. After a tie at 19-19, the Boilermakers rattled off five straight points including two kills and a block by Jacques to go up 24-19. The Lady Vols would not go away, instead cutting the point margin to one at 27-26 on another Stoyanova ace. A pair of kills by sophomore Sam Mader (Algonquin, Ill.) set up Purdue's first game-point attempt. A block by senior Leah Wischmeier (Brownstown, Ind.) and Lynch capped the game at 30-26. Lynch and Wischmeier each tallied four kills in the stanza, while the Boilermakers hit .341.
Tennessee shook off the Game 1 loss, kicking off Game 2 with an early 5-1 lead. Playing from behind for the first time in the match, Purdue responded with a 6-1 rally to turn the deficit into a 7-6 advantage. Purdue put up two blocks in the run, while also capitalizing on two Lady Vol miscues. UT tied it up at 7-7, but the Boilermakers maintained control, bumping the point margin to seven at 15-8 after another 5-0 run. The Lady Vols pulled within three at 17-14 and eventually tied the score at 22-22. From that point on, it was all Boilermakers, Wischmeier specifically, as the left side hitter downed five kills in the last eight serves from the hand of Mastandrea. Purdue hit .308 in the stanza as Wischmeier totaled seven kills.
The Lady Vols scored the opening point of Game 3, but Purdue quickly answered with four straight points, including a pair of blocks and a service ace by Jacques. The Boilermakers led by two at 7-5, before taking off an a 6-0 run, which featured kills three kills by Mader and two from Wischmeier, to make it 13-5. UT called a timeout and scored three straight out of the break to make it 13-8. Wischmeier broke the string with a kill, but suffered a knee injury after the play, forcing her to exit the game. The Boilermakers called on team unity and maintained their focus following the injury timeout with a block by Jacques and freshman Kelli Miller
(Muncie, Ind.). Tennessee also took advantage of the break and the devastated Boilermakers, rallying to turn a 16-10 deficit into an 18-17 lead. The teams tied at 19 and 20, before Purdue regained control for good. Down 21-20, the Boilermakers used back-to-back kills from Miller and a UT serving mishap to take a 23-21 lead. After a brief pause, Miller struck again, then junior Melanie Ukovich
(Minooka, Ill.) followed with a service ace to make it 25-22. Purdue scored four of the next six points, coupling kills by Dargan and Merlau with a pair of Lady Vol miscues to set up game point at 29-24. Tennessee thwarted two game-point attempts, before a kill by Merlau sewed up the bittersweet sweep and the Mortar Board Premier tournament title.
"It is hard to feel good right now," head coach Dave Shondell said. "This gym is like a morgue right now, because everyone is concerned about Wischmeier. It is hard to generate any sort of excitement because of that, but we played tough throughout the weekend and hung in there with and beat three good opponents."
Wischmeier led all hitters with a match-high 14 kills on a .542 hitting percentage, while Mader added 11. Jacques added seven kills to go with a career-high three aces and five blocks. Mastandrea led the Boilermaker defense with a match-high 17 digs. Purdue hit .277 to Tennessee's .185 percentage, while also outblocking the Lady Vols 12 to 5.
"Our team played well tonight," Wischmeier said after the match. "Our confidence was at an all-time high this weekend. Tonight, I was playing one of the better games I have all season before the injury."
Wischmeier was named MVP of the Mortar Board Premier, while Mader and Miller garnered all-tournament team recognition. Ohio's Melissa Griffin and Julia Winkfield, Tennessee's Kristen Andrea and Xavier's Kate Duchek rounded out the all-tournament team.
The Boilermakers (11-0) return to action on Friday, Sept. 23, when they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 14 Ohio State in both teams' conference opener. Purdue will then take on No. 4 Penn State in University Park, Pa., on Saturday evening. Both matches will be broadcast live on WLAS 1410 AM and purduesports.com.