November 12, 1998
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue volleyball team fell 7-15, 6-15, 15-17 to No. 14 Michigan State in the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility tonight. The loss drops the Boilers to 11-13 (5-10 Big Ten), while the Spartans improve to 20-4 (12-3 Big Ten). This was Michigan State's eighth straight win.
"I was really pleased with our young kids," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "They played hard and brought good energy into the match. But I was very disappointed with how flat we were. We would have had a chance to win tonight if we came out in the beginning like we did in Game 3."
Flat was a good word to describe Purdue's play at the start of Game 1, as the Boilers allowed the Spartans to cruise to a 9-0 lead to open the match. Holding a 13-2 advantage, Michigan State appeared poised to run away with the game, but Purdue strung together four of the game's next five points to draw within seven at 14-7. Despite that flurry and despite saving three game points, the Boilers could not come any closer and dropped the game 15-7.
Purdue started off much better in Game 2, but still could not prevent the Spartans from jumping out to a 6-0 lead. The lead was six again at 8-2 in favor of Michigan State before the Boilers cut the deficit to four. The Spartans were ahead by nine at 13-4 when three straight kills by Connie Paul earned Purdue a sideout and two points to cut the deficit to seven. But Michigan State did not relent and finished off the game on its second opportunity, winning 15-6.
A block by Bev Krupa gave the Boilers their first lead of the match at 3-2 in Game 3. That lead did not last long, though, as Michigan State reeled off six points in a row to reclaim the edge at 8-4. Down four, the Boilers rallied to knot the score at 8-apiece. Both teams were deadlocked at 9, as well, before the Spartans went on a 5-0 run to go ahead 14-9. And just when Michigan State looked like it would walk away with the win, the Boilers fought off three match points to tie the score again at 14-all. A block by rookie reserve Maegan Petersen lifted Purdue back in front and gave the Boilers a chance to serve for the match. But that opportunity was squandered, and the Spartans went on to win the extended game 17-15.
"We made an adjustment in our blocking in Game 3 and that helped to spark us," Vrazel said. "And our young kids performed well, which is very encouraging."
Christy Case was one of the youngsters Vrazel cited. The freshman outside hitter recorded a season-high six kills, just four behind the team leader Krupa, who tallied 10. Petersen finished with five kills, matching a season-best.
Purdue hit a respectable .200 (39-19-100) for the match, but the Spartans hit .314 (52-20-102). Michigan State outblocked (10-5) and outdug (32-24) the Boilers, as well. Jenna Wrobel, the nation's leader in kills, paced the Green and White with 16.
The Boilers have one day off before they entertain Michigan in the IAF on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. The Wolverines (12-12, 4-10) will play at No. 20 Illinois on Nov. 13. Purdue defeated the Maize and Blue 3-1 in Ann Arbor in the 1998 conference opener.
"The extra day off will help us to regroup and refocus," Vrazel said. "Now we can get back to what we need to do in order to get a win against Michigan."