Nov. 29, 2008
MADISON, Wis. - The No. 18 Boilermaker volleyball team posted its 13th Big Ten win of the season on the road at Wisconsin Saturday night, marking the program's highest conference win tally since 1987 (14-4). Purdue topped the Badgers in five sets by scores of 25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 19-25 and 15-13.
Senior Danita Merlau racked up 19 kills to pace the offense, while senior Stephanie Lynch added 17 putaways and a season-best 13 blocks. Sophomore Jaclyn Hart tacked on eight kills, while redshirt sophomore Lisa Pierce notched seven.
Defensively, senior Kelli Miller pulled up 21 digs and sophomore Jessica Ullrich added 11. Freshman Tiffany Fisher chipped in six blocks to the winning effort. Purdue topped the Badgers in all major statistical categories.
"This was a very big win for so many reasons," head coach Dave Shondell said. "We made the decision to rest Carrie Gurnell tonight. We also committed to play Sam Ainsworth and Tiffany Fisher tonight, because they deserved it and I thought Fisher was big in so many ways.
"The key tonight, however, was our three seniors. If you wonder how a team can be 7-0 in Big Ten five game matches, you have to look at those three. You have to have a driving force of experience and toughness and it starts with those three seniors. They didn't do it alone, but they carried us tonight."
Purdue chalked up three kills and an ace in the fifth and deciding set to take an early 5-2 lead. The Boilermaker lead stood at four at 10-6 soon after, prompting Wisconsin to use its second timeout of the set. The Badgers scored four straight to tie it up at 10. Kills from Fisher and Lynch and a block by Lynch and Merlau pushed the score to 13-10. Wisconsin posted a 3-0 run to knot the score at 13 prompting a Purdue timeout. The pause iced the server, then Lynch followed with an overpass putaway to clinch Purdue the 15-13 win. Merlau tallied four kills in the set, while Lynch added three.
The Boilermakers jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set and went on to a five-point advantage at 9-4 on a block by Arthurs and Fisher. The Badgers fought back, tying the score at 10 and 11. The knot ups, however, sparked a 9-3 Purdue rally, which included two block and kills by four different players, and brought the score to 20-14. A set into the corner by Ullrich put the Boilermakers up six again at 23-17. A kill by Fisher moved the score to 24-19, but UW denied two set-point attempts, before a hitting error capped the 25-21 victory. Lynch and Hart tallied four kills apiece in the stanza.
Purdue started the second set with back-to-back aces by Ullrich and led by four at 9-5 soon after. Wisconsin scored six of the next seven points to take its first lead of the night at 11-10. The Boilermakers answered, however, with three straight to go up 14-11. The Badgers knotted the score at 15 prompting a Purdue timeout. The Boilermakers ripped off four in a row, including an ace by Merlau to go up 19-15. UW cut the deficit to one four times, last at 23-22, but putaways by Merlau and Hart gave Purdue the 25-22 win. Pierce paced Purdue with four kills in the set.
Wisconsin returned from the intermission renewed, taking an early lead in the third set and carrying it throughout. Purdue managed ties at four, eight and 13, but gave the Badgers a 7-0 run after the last knot up which put the set out of reach. Purdue fought valiantly, slicing the margin to three at 23-20 with a 5-1 run, including three Merlau putdowns. Wisconsin, however, scored two of the last three to take the set 25-21.
The Badgers carried the momentum into the fourth set, racing out to an 11-6 advantage. Purdue pulled within two at 12-10 on a block and a Merlau kill. The Badgers pushed the margin to six at 16-10, but the Boilermakers answered with a 4-0 run, including three blocks, two by Merlau and Lynch, to prompt a UW timeout. The teams traded four-point rallies again, with Lynch tallying two kills and Merlau serving up an ace to draw the score at 20-18. Wisconsin closed out the set with a 5-1 run for the 25-19 win.
The Boilermakers (24-8, 13-7 Big Ten) await their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced on the NCAA Selection Show at 10 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU. Purdue will watch the show at the Kissell Center located on the east side of Ross-Ade Stadium.