Nov. 28, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. - It was a squeaker, but the No. 18 Boilermaker volleyball team managed to escape Welsh-Ryan Arena with a five-set win over Northwestern Friday night. Purdue won the match 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 21-25, 15-13 to move to 23-8 on the year, including a 12-7 mark in the Big Ten.
Senior Danita Merlau chalked up a match-high 21 kills to pace the Purdue offense, while junior Carrie Gurnell tacked on 12 putaways. Senior Stephanie Lynch added nine kills, followed by sophomore Kristen Arthurs' seven. Redshirt sophomore Lisa Pierce and sophomore Jaclyn Hart chipped in six apiece for the Boilermakers.
Defensively, senior Kelli Miller pulled up 19 digs, while Merlau rounded out her double-double with 10 digs. Lynch, Hart, Arthurs and Gurnell each posted three blocks.
"Every time we play Northwestern they give us a phenomenal effort," head coach Dave Shondell said. "Keylor Chan always has his team convinced that they are going to beat us. You have to give him and his team credit. They have won just two conference matches, but they outplayed us in nearly every facet of the game tonight. We just weren't very sharp tonight, but we managed to win."
The Boilermakers opened the fifth and deciding set with three straight points, including a block by Pierce and Arthurs. The Wildcats cut the marign to one at 5-4, but Purdue scored three of the next four including a pair on NU errors to go up 8-5 at the changeover. Trailing 10-7, Northwestern called a timeout and then proceeded to score the next two points out of the break. Back-to-back Wildcat miscues made it 13-10 Boilermakers, but NU countered with three straight on a block, a kill and a Purdue error to knot it up at 13-13. Miller sent a free ball deep into the corner for a kill to set up match point and Lynch and Hart combined for a block to cap the 15-13 win.
Northwestern charged out to an 11-6 lead in the opening set. The Boilermakers, however, were able to narrow the gap to two at 14-12 on a kill by Jaclyn Hart. The Hart put away capped an 8-3 Purdue run, which also featured four putaways by Merlau. Trailing by seven at 19-12, the Boilermakers racked up four straight points on kills by Gurnell and Pierce. Facing a 23-18 deficit, Purdue scored four of the next five and held off two NU set point attempts, to make it 24-22. A solo stuff by Gurnell prompted a Wildcat timeout, which iced the server to seal the 25-22 Northwestern win. Merlau racked up six putaways in the stanza, while Pierce and Gurnell each chipped in four.
The Wildcats carried the momentum into the second set, taking a 13-7 lead midway through the stanza. Purdue scored six of the next seven points to slice the margin to one at 14-13 on a NU net violation. Hart supplied a solo block, while Gurnell and Lynch teamed up for a stuff in the rally. Trailing 17-15 moments later, Purdue kicked off a 5-0 run, including two Merlau putaways, to take a 19-17 lead of its own. The teams tied at 20-20, but the Boilermakers maintained control with three straight points, including kills by Merlau and Lynch. Northwestern countered with a pair of points, but Lynch dropped in two kills, one on a slide attack and the other on an overdig, to clinch the 25-22 win.
The teams split the opening 10 points in set three. Purdue then rattled off 11 of the next 13 to go up nine at 16-7. Miller served up three aces in the stretch, while Hart added one. The Boilermakers led by 10 at 18-8 soon after, but that prompted a 10-1 Wildcat run. Purdue recovered from the rally with back to back points off of Gurnell putaway and an NU hitting error. The Boilermaker lead stood at four at 23-19 after Gurnell and Pierce chipped in kills, but Northwestern held on Purdue's first chance at the set to make it 24-22. Merlau tooled the Wildcat block, however, for the 25-22 victory.
Northwestern jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set, after snapping a tie at 5-5. The Boilermakers pulled within two at 18-16 after a kill and a block by Merlau and an ace by sophomore Jessica Ullrich. Another Merlau putaway brought it to 20-18, but Purdue could not overcome the Wildcats, who closed out the set with a 5-3 run.
The Boilermakers wrap up the regular season at 8 p.m Saturday when they take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wis.