Oct. 31, 1997

Purdue Volleyball Falls To Minnesota In Four Games

By Tom Schott
For the Journal and Courier

In a season of ''could haves,'' the Purdue volleyball team let a potential victory slip through its collective fingers Friday night, as the Boilermakers lost to Minnesota 9-15, 15-13, 13-15, 9-15 in front of 1,139 fans at the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility.

The Boilermakers (8-14, 1-10) should have won Game 3, which meant they very well could have won the match. Purdue was running on all cylinders en route to building a convincing 12-5 lead, but a determined Minnesota team (17-5, 7-4) scored nine straight points to forge ahead 14-12. After the teams traded a couple of sideouts, the Golden Gophers completed the comeback to steal the momentum and, ultimately, the match.

"I have to hand it to Minnesota, they have a veteran team, and their experience showed," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "That's the type of team that can fall behind but find a way to come back. I felt we had everyone focused, but when it comes down to crunch time, we are still not getting the job done."

The Gophers, who are tied for fourth place in the Big Ten Conference with Michigan State and Ohio State, nearly pulled off a similar comeback in Game 2, rallying from an 8-13 deficit to tie the score at 13-all. But Purdue regrouped and won the game on a pair of kills by Sarah Emke.

Minnesota rallied from an early 4-7 hole to win Game 1 going away and later led Game 4 from start to finish.

Four Boilermakers finished with double figures in kills: Emke (20), Katie Gibbons and Bev Krupa (13 apiece) and Kelly Colangelo (10). Emke and Connie Paul both recorded four blocks, while Gibbons came up with 12 digs and rifled three service aces. Taryn Catlin and Sarina Harris both had two aces.

"I'm proud of our team," Vrazel said. "We're fighting hard, our heads are up and we know we can compete with these teams. It's just a matter of finding a way to beat some of them."

The Boilermakers return to action Sunday against Iowa (9-13, 2-9) at 5 p.m. in the IAF. The match will be televised live by SportsChannel/Fox Sports Chicago.

1997 Big Ten Conference Volleyball Standings (through Oct. 29, 1997)
Penn State      10-1    .909         21-1       .955
Wisconsin       10-1    .909         19-2       .905
Michigan        8-3     .727         15-7       .682
Minnesota       7-4     .636         17-5       .773
Michigan St.    7-4     .636         17-7       .708
Ohio State      7-4     .636         16-7       .696
Illinois        4-7     .364         13-8       .619
Indiana         3-8     .273         16-8       .667
Iowa            2-9     .182         9-13       .409
Northwestern    2-10    .167        11-12       .478
Purdue          1-10    .091         8-14       .364