Oct. 20, 1997

Purdue Volleyball Falls at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Huff Hall on the Illinois campus has not been kind to the Purdue volleyball team.

On Friday night, the Boilermakers suffered their eighth straight loss (all three game sweeps) in the facility since Illinois began using it for volleyball in 1990. The score last week was 16-14, 15-7 and 1,679.

Overall, the Boilermakers (7-11, 0-7) have dropped 13 in a row to the Fighting Illini in the Land of Lincoln, dating to a four-game victory at Kenney Gym on Oct. 12, 1984. During that same period, Purdue is 7-5 against Illinois in the friendly confines of the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility.

Meanwhile, the Boilermakers continued their worst start in Big Ten play since the 1989 team also lost its first seven matches. That squad won its next two outings and went on to finish 7-11.

"I was really pleased with a lot of things tonight, but once again we hurt ourselves at crucial times," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "The players are working very hard and we're not getting blown out on the court, but we just haven't been able to get a win in the conference."

"We're still searching for the right combinations, but I really believe that when that happens we will be alright."

Purdue had a golden opportunity to win Game 1 with a 14-12 lead and four attempts at game point. But the Illini (12-5, 3-4) responded each time and went on to score four points themselves to capture the victory. Two of the four points came on blocks and a third was the result of a Purdue hitting error. Connie Paul had nine kills and hit at a sizzling .818 clip.

The Illini led from start to finish in Game 2, tallying the first five points and taking a 9-3 advantage. After the Boilermakers closed to within three points at 6-9, Illinois answered with a 6-1 spurt to finish matters.

In Game 3, Purdue rallied from a 3-7 deficit to tie the score at 7-all. However, Illinois scored the next eight points, allowing just three side outs and taking advantage of five errors by the Boilermakers.

Paul paced Purdue with 16 kills and two blocks, while Katie Gibbons had 15 kills, a season-high 18 digs and three service aces. Kelly Colangelo added eight kills.

The Illini, who outhit the Boilermakers .347 to .211, were led by Christy Chapman's 22 kills on a robust .710 attack percentage.

The Boilermakers travel to Wisconsin (15-2, 6-1) on Saturday fir a 7 p.m. match against the No. 8 Badgers, who defeated Ohio State 12-15, 15-2, 15-4, 15-9 at home Friday.