September 26, 1998
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Purdue volleyball team started off its Big Ten season on the right foot, defeating Michigan in Ann Arbor 6-15, 15-12, 15-8, 15-8 tonight. This win improves the Boilers' record to 7-3 and makes them a perfect 1-0 in conference play. Michigan is now 8-3 and 0-1 in the Big Ten.
"What a great win," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "We were firing on all cylinders. We blocked well, we hit well and we passed well. Those are the things we know will make us successful."
It took a while for Purdue to get those cylinders firing, though. Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead in Game 1, the Wolverines responded with a 9-0 run to overtake the advantage at 9-2. Purdue came back to score three straight points to close the gap at 5-9 and came within four again at 6-10. But sloppy play by Purdue and sharp play by Michigan allowed the Wolverines to emerge with the 15-6 victory.
"Certainly we would have liked to have gotten Game 1, but we felt like we were doing some positive things and that we were competing," Vrazel said.
Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 2, but Purdue answered with a 6-0 run to go up 6-2. The Boilers continued to press and took an 8-4 lead on a block solo by Connie Paul. A timeout by the Wolverines, however, stemmed the Purdue tide and resulted in a 3-0 Michigan run. That brought the Maize and Blue to within one at 8-7. Despite that Michigan threat, the Boilers surged forward and took an 11-7 lead on a kill by Colleen Henican. Michigan closed to within one again at 11-10, but Purdue persevered. A block by Jennie Williams and Taryn Catlin, followed by a Michigan error and two kills by Bev Krupa, helped Purdue finish the match on a 4-2 run to exit with the 15-12 win.
The Wolverines took an early 2-0 lead in Game 3, as well, but strong play by Krupa guided Purdue on a 10-1 run which gave the Boilers a 10-3 advantage. Michigan made a run of its own, however, scoring five unanswered points to come within two at 10-8. But strong blocking by Henican and Sarah Emke keyed a 5-0 Boiler spurt and gave Purdue the Game 3 victory at 15-8.
The Boilers brought that momentum into Game 4 and earned an immediate sideout on a kill by Kelly Colangelo. Purdue was ahead 4-1 before Michigan came back to tie things up at 4-all. Both teams fought for the game's next lead and the Wolverines got it on a service ace. But the Boilers posted the game's next six points to go ahead 10-6. Michigan was not ready to call it quits, however, and pulled within two at 10-8 before the Boilers took a timeout to regroup. That respite seemed to help, as Purdue earned a sideout and rallied to score the game's final five points consecutively. The punctuation mark was delivered by Colangelo and Paul, who teamed up on a block to finish the game and match with a 15-8 Game 4 win.
"This is awesome," Henican said. "We knew we could have success against Michigan if we executed well and did the things we are supposed to do and practice every day. All of our hard work and preparation paid off and it's a great feeling. It gives us a lot of confidence going into Michigan State."
The story of the match for Purdue was its blocking. The Boilers tallied 12 total blocks, two shy of a season best. Individually, senior outside hitters Krupa and Henican played with urgency, contributing 20 and 15 kills, respectively. Both Krupa and Henican did the job defensively, as well, as each came up with 17 digs.
"Colleen and Bev really did a job for us," Vrazel said. "They truly showed the talent and capability they have to be impact players not only on this team, but also in this league. We hope they can continue to contribute these kind of numbers as the season progresses."
As a team, Purdue hit at a .246 clip, while holding Michigan to a .201 hitting percentage. That Wolverine effort was 60 points below their average for the season.
Purdue completes its opening conference weekend with a match at Michigan State tomorrow at 6 p.m. The Boilers are looking to complete some unfinished business in East Lansing. Last season, Purdue took the 24th-ranked Spartans to five games before falling.
"We definitely are psyched up for Michigan State," Emke said. "We want that match really bad, especially because of what happened there last year. The win tonight is pumping us up even more."