Nov. 22, 2003
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - After hanging with #20 Illinois for two games, the Boilermaker volleyball team didn't have enough left to finish off the Fighting Illini, instead falling 3-1. The Illini used their height advantage and healthy bodies to take the win 23-30, 30-26, 30-20, 30-21.
"I think we played about as well as we could play," head coach Dave Shondell said. "We were marvelous for about a game and a half and some of the same play from last night carried over, but we had some people wear down. Our players played hard and that is all that I can ask of them. I have no qualms with the way our team played and competed tonight, we just played somebody that was a bigger team."
Junior Kim McConaha and redshirt sophomore Leah Wischmeier tallied 12 kills apiece for Purdue, while sophomore setter Renata Dargan chalked up 10 of her own. Junior libero Daren Poe led the Boilermaker defense with 16 digs, while freshman Brittany Dildine pulled up 10. Rachel VanMeter led all hitter with 21 kills, while Lisa Argabright tallied six blocks in the match.
Purdue started the match off on the right foot, turning an 8-7 deficit into a 15-8 advantage on a pair of Dildine kills, another from Marie Franke, a Wischmeier ace and a handful of Illini miscues. Illinois cut the point margin to four at 15-11, but could not break through as the Purdue lead rose to eight at 22-14 on a McConaha kill. Strong play by a barrage of Boilermaker offensive weapons kept the Illini at bay, never allowing them closer than five the rest of the game. Franke served up her second ace of the night to make it 28-21, and three plays later Purdue clinched the game at 30-23 on another Illinois mistake. Purdue out-hit Illinois .256 to .130 in the stanza.
The momentum switched hand in game two as Illinois jumped out to a 4-1 lead. The Boilermakers battled back to tie it at six and no one gained a real edge again until the Illini broke a tie at 10 with a 7-2 run. Purdue cut the advantage to three several times over the next few minutes, but couldn't get over the hump. Facing a 28-24 deficit, Dargan chalked up a kill and Wischmeier followed with a solo block to cut the point-margin to two. A ball handling error and a kill stopped the Purdue push, sealing the game at 30-26 for the Illini. The game was fairly even, as Illinois hit .289 to Purdue's .261 but the teams tied in every other category except digs.
Illinois broke things open in game three, chalking up six blocks and hitting .400 en route to a 30-20 win. The game started out in the Boilermakers' favor, however, as the team led 8-3 in the early goings after six Illini miscues. Illinois fought back, turning the deficit into a 15-11 lead scoring 12 of the next fifteen points, four via block. The point margin then teetered between four and six points over the next several serves. The Boilermakers were within four at 21-17, but the Illini rattled off three straight to push the lead to seven, their highest of the night. Purdue squeezed in a point here and there, but couldn't stop the Illini attack. A pair of kills by Rachel VanMeter and Jessica Belter gave Illinois the game at 30-20. Purdue hit -.069 in the stanza.
Game four saw a 5-4 Boilermaker lead fade into a 9-5 Illinois advantage after a trio of errors. Purdue battled, cutting the lead to three at 11-8, but the Illini scored six of the next eight to expand the margin to seven at 17-10. The teams traded points with Kim Cappa supplying four kills and a block coming from McConaha and Dargan for Purdue during the stretch, but it was a McConaha kill and an ace by Dargan that cut the lead to five at 22-17. Illinois answered with a 5-0 run to push the advantage to 10. A Cappa kill, a block by McConaha and Franke and a service ace by freshman Jenny Keresztes pulled Purdue within seven at 28-21, but an Illini kill and a hitting error gave Illinois the match with a 30-21 win. Cappa, who came off the bench in game three supplied five kills in the game for Purdue.
The match wrapped up Purdue's home season and was the final one in the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility for senior Jen Bova. The Milwaukee, Wis., native was honored before the game and saw action for the first time this season with a serve and a dig to start game one.
"I hope that Jen enjoyed the festivities tonight," Shondell said. "She is a special person. She has dealt with a lot of tough things this last year, but she has persevered. I feel bad for what she has had to deal with, but she handled it great. I wish that she would have been able to play with us this year, because she would have helped us quite a bit. We didn't have her experience on the floor and we didn't have someone who could play three different positions like she has in her career. It hurt us not having her on the court, but what she did provide for us was a lot of support."
The Boilermakers (13-16, 6-12 Big Ten) will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Bloomington to face Indiana in a battle for the Monon Spike. The match is set for a 7 p.m. start.