November 28, 1998
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - What a finish. The Purdue volleyball team won its last match of the season with a 15-13, 6-15, 15-12, 9-15, 15-12 victory at Minnesota tonight. The win gives Purdue a seventh-place finish in the Big Ten, while Minnesota settles for eighth place. The eight wins are the most in the Joey Vrazel era for the Boilermakers, and the seventh-place finish marks their highest in the conference in Vrazel's four-year tenure. It also gives the Boilers their third season sweep of s Big Ten opponent this season (also Michigan and Iowa). Purdue closes its season with a 14-15 (8-12 Big Ten) record, while Minnesota drops to 17-14 (7-13 Big Ten).
"This is a great win for us," Vrazel said. "We knew it would be tough to come in here and succeed, but we hung tough and pulled it out. It's great to go out on a high note."
Neither the Boilers nor the Gophers could build a substantial lead at the start of Game 1. The two teams were tied at 1-, 2- and 3-apiece before Minnesota went up by two at 5-3. Purdue answered to tie at 5-all, but the Gophers pulled ahead by three at 8-5. Purdue fought back to reach within one at 8-7, but the Gophers capitalized on two kills by Nicole Branagh and two Boilermaker errors to increase their advantage to four at 11-7. Battling for the next point, the Boilers and Gophers traded six sideouts before Branagh, Minnesota's offensive leader, went down with an ankle injury and had to leave the court. That Gopher misfortune worked in Purdue's favor, as the Boilers rallied from a five-point deficit to grab their first lead of the game at 14-13. And on their fourth game-point opportunity, the Boilers made good on a block by Christy Case and Connie Paul to take the 15-13 win.
The sparring continued into Game 2, as Purdue and Minnesota were deadlocked at every point from one to six before the Gophers built a four-point lead at 10-6. That spread concerned the Boilers, who used their final timeout to stop the momentum. Unfortunately that strategy did not work for Purdue, as Minnesota ran off the last five points unanswered to win 15-6.
Formidable blocking by Kelly Colangelo and Sarah Emke helped Purdue build a 6-1advantage in Game 3. But a 3-0 run by Minnesota brought the Gophers to within two at 6-4. The Boiler lead was two again at 8-6, but Purdue used more blocking by Colangelo and a couple more Minnesota mistakes to score three straight for an 11-6 edge. The Boilers went up by six at 14-8 and had four chances at game-point, but the Gophers saved those and scored four points to close the gap to two. But on Purdue's fifth game-point opportunity, Colleen Henican and Emke came through with a block to lift the Boilers to a 15-12 victory.
Purdue was up 2-0 in Game 4 before Minnesota went on a 5-1 run to overtake the lead. A kill by Bev Krupa and a Gopher error knotted the score at 5-5, and a service ace by Taryn Catlin gave the Boilers a 6-5 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Minnesota came back with three consecutive points to go ahead 8-6. Purdue came back to tie and went up 9-8, but the Gophers rattled off seven unanswered points to pull out the 15-9 win, forcing a fifth game of rally scoring.
Down 3-1 in Game 5, a 4-0 Boilermaker run capped off by two kills by Arosarena put Purdue in front by two. The Boilers increased that lead to five at 10-5, causing Minnesota to spend a timeout. A kill by Krupa made the Purdue lead six, but that cushion dwindled to two at 13-11. Despite seeing that margin decreased, the Boilers hung on to win 15-12 on a kill by Arosarena and a Minnesota service error.
"We had a great collective effort," Vrazel said. "Everyone really beared down and gave us everything they had. They left nothing on the court, and that should help us as we prepare for the future."
Especially heroic was Krupa, who led the Boilers in kills (27) and digs (career-high 20). Catlin ran the offense smoothly, contributing 64 assists with seven kills from her setting position. Connie Paul added 18 kills, one shy of a career best. Arosarena and Emke finished with 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
As a team, Purdue hit .217 to Minnesota's .255. Both teams registered 11 blocks. Sonja Posthuma led the Gophers with 25 kills.
This game marked the last in the careers of Krupa and Henican. Krupa, a native of Fairbanks, Alaska, finished seventh on Purdue's all-time kills list with 1,265. She tallied 924 digs in four years.. Henican, a transfer from Iowa State, closed her career with a total of 1,048 kills and 1,066 digs.
"Bev and Colleen did a great job for us this year," Vrazel said. "And Bev had a great career here, too. We would have liked to have had Colleen a little longer, but we wish them both the best in the future. They've done a lot for this program."