Oct. 11, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Almost a miracle -- that is what Purdue head coach Dave Shondell had to say about his team's five game loss to Michigan Saturday night. The Boilermakers (11-5, 4-2 Big Ten) fell 30-21, 27-30, 20-30, 30-22, 15-12 despite a valiant team effort minus the help of junior middle hitter Kim McConaha, who was out due to injury.
"I thought it was a very gutsy, very admirable effort by our young volleyball team," Shondell said. "We found out 10 minutes before the start of the match that our most experienced and probably best overall player was not going to be able to play. If the players were as frazzled as I was, then it was a tough way to play. We weren't very good in the first game even though we kind of came back and made it interesting. Then we settled down and got used to the new lineup and played pretty well the rest of the night."
Purdue looked to hold the upper hand in game five of the match, owning a 7-4 lead in the early goings as Michigan committed three errors and three different Boilermakers racked up kills. The Wolverines fought back turning a 10-8 deficit into a 13-10 lead behind three Purdue mistakes. Redshirt sophomore Leah Wischmeier pulled Purdue to within two at 13-11, but a kill by Danielle Pflum set up match point at 14-11. A Wischmeier kill prolonged the Boilermakers life, but Erin Moore's 28th kill of the night sealed the victory for Michigan at 15-12.
Junior Kim Cappa led Purdue with 18 kills, while Wischmeier added 17 in the effort. Freshman Melanie Ukovich also reached double-figures with 12 kills, while Wischmeier served up a career-high four aces in the match. Junior Daren Poe tallied 17 digs and a career-high six assists, while redshirt freshman Sarah Vitali posted a team-high seven blocks in her first start as a Boilermaker. Michigan was paced by Moore's 28 kills, and out-blocked Purdue 18-13 in the match.
In game one action, Purdue faced a seven-point deficit at 16-9 after being tied at 6-6. The Boilermakers then cut the lead to four at 22-18 in a string that including a Leah Wischmeier service ace and two Melanie Ukovich kills. The Wolverines scored five of the next six points to make it 27-19. Five serves later Erin Moore ended it at 30-21 with her sixth kill of the game. Michigan out-hit Purdue .281 to .065 in the game.
Game two saw the Boilermakers jump out to an 8-3 advantage, before allowing the Wolverines to catch up and make it 11 all. The game would be tied 10 more times until Michigan made it 24-21 with a three-point run. Purdue answered with a 4-0 rally of its own including a Wischmeier ace and three UM miscues. After ties at 25 and 26, Purdue set up its first game-point attempt at 29-26. A Wolverine kill stifled the effort only briefly as a Michigan attacking error a play later sealed the game 30-27 for Purdue. Ukovich racked up eight kills on nine attempts for a .889 percentage in the game.
The third game was decidedly in Purdue's favor. The Boilermakers returned from the intermission to score the first six points of the game, including two Wischmeier aces and three Michigan errors. Purdue paused only slightly before making it a seven-point game at 13-6. The lead expanded to 10 at 20-10 after three Kim Cappa kills and a trio of Wolverines mistakes. Michigan cut the margin to seven at 25-18 but then saw it rise to ten at 28-18, and 29-19. Another kill by Moore again paused the Boilermaker drive, but a Wischmeier kill gave Purdue a 2-1 lead in the match and a 30-20 win.
Michigan turned a 6-6 tie into a 14-9 lead early on in game four. Purdue settled down and capitalized on four Wolverines miscues to tie it up at 15. The Boilermakers took their first lead since 2-1 at 18-17 on a kill by Renata Dargan, but it was short lived as Michigan went on a 10-2 run including three kills by Gandolph to put the game out of reach at 27-20. Purdue stopped the bleeding with a block by Ukovich and freshman Katie Dobson and kept the game going with a kill by Cappa, but another Gandolph kill and a Wolverine block forced the deciding game five. Gandolph had seven kills in the 30-22 Michigan win as the team hit .400 to Purdue's .147 effort.
"We had two freshman middles out there tonight, and one was playing in the first real match of her career and was matched up against Erin Moore," Shondell said. "We had a freshman right side player matched up against Jennifer Gandolph and then we had two sophomores and a junior. It is not really fair to expect them to go out there and win and yet they almost did that. It was almost a miracle considering the set of circumstances that we had that we almost won the match."
Purdue will be back in action Wednesday night when they play host to cross-state rival Indiana (9-8, 2-4 Big Ten). All Purdue students, faculty and staff get in for free, while all other fans will pay just $1.