Sept. 19, 1997

Boilers Unable to Rebound

By TOM SCHOTT

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - For the third time in as many matches, the Purdue volleyball team was victimized by early deficits.

As a result, the Boilermakers (6-4) saw their losing streak extended to three with a 15-5, 15-8, 16-14 defeat at the hands of North Carolina on Friday evening at Carmichael Auditorium.

The Boilermakers fell behind 3-0 in Game 1, 6-0 in Game 2 and 5-0 in Game 3. Still, they had a chance to win the third game, rallying from an 8-13 hole to go ahead 14-13 and serve for the win. But a hitting error gave the Tar Heels (6-4) new life, and they took advantage to earn their second straight win after a four-match losing skid.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we can't keep falling behind right out of the gate," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. "We are not a powerful enough team to consistently come back from huge deficits."

The Boilermakers, who emphasized blocking in practice, were better in that area against North Carolina but still not consistent enough.

"Blocking and digging scores points," Vrazel said. "We can hit and hit and hit and side out all we want, but you have to put points on the scoreboard to win."

There was plenty of Purdue offense. Kelly Colangelo and Sarah Emke both had 15 kills, while Katie Gibbons added 13. The Boilermakers and Tar Heels actually both finished with 53 kills, but North Carolina was much more efficient (.271 to .155), thanks largely to a 14-5 advantage in blocking. Both teams had 47 digs. Purdue also was hurt by managing just one service ace, while committing 10 serving errors, including six in the final game.

Emke had three blocks and Colangelo came up with 12 digs. The comeback in Game 3 provided some encouragement. Down 8-13, Purdue took advantage of two North Carolina errors for two points, got kills from Colangelo and Emke for two more markers and got a block from Connie Paul and another stuff from Colangelo and Emke to take its only lead of the match.

Backup setter Linda Menconi, who was sent on off the bench with her team struggling in Game 3, helped turn the tide.

"As a senior, it's my job to provide a spark," said Menconi, who had a block and a dig to go with 17 assists. "That's all I tried to do tonight."

On Saturday the Boilermakers play their final non-conference match against Duke at 4 p.m. The Blue Devils, who were picked to finish first in the ACC in the preseason coaches' poll, played Michigan on Friday night.

Big Ten vs. ACC
at Chapel Hill, N.C.

Friday
North Carolina def. Purdue 15-5, 15-8, 16-14 Michigan vs. Duke

Saturday
Purdue vs. Duke, 4 p.m.
Michigan vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m.