Sept. 20, 1997
Purdue Volleyball vs. Duke
By Tom Schott
For the Journal and Courier
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Purdue volleyball team reached a crossroads Saturday, having lost three straight matches heading into its final pre-Big Ten Conference tune-up.
The Boilermakers (7-4) took the high road and the long one bidding adieu to the losing skid with a thrilling, come-from-behind 7-15, 8-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-12 win over Duke at Carmichael Auditorium.
``This one is huge," Purdue coach Joey Vrazel said. ``We didn't want to go into conference with four straight losses. I give the players a lot of credit. They found a little extra tonight and did not quit. And I thought we really turned up our intensity the last three games and played very well."
It is the Boilermakers second five-game victory of the season (also against Indiana State at home) and the fourth rally from an 0-2 deficit in Vrazel's three-year tenure.
``We needed this win probably more than any other since I've been at Purdue," junior outside hitter Bev Krupa said. ``After getting off to such a good start to the season, we didnUt want to see it all lost before we got into the Big Ten. This match could definitely make the difference in our season."
Ironically, Duke (4-8) was picked to finish first in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason coaches' poll, ahead of Florida State and North Carolina, two teams that have defeated Purdue this year. The Blue Devils have lost six of their last eight matches and also were desperate for a win.
The Boilermakers trailed 5-10 in Game 4 before storming back. Two straight blocks brought Purdue even at 12-all before kills by Connie Paul and Krupa led to the final three points.
``That game says a lot about our team," Paul said. ``We could have folded our tent, gone out to eat and headed home, but we didn't. We were determined to leave here with a win."
The rallying-scoring Game 5 was tied on nine occasions, the last time at 9-all. At that point Purdue was in the midst of a 5-0 run behind the serving of Christi Kelsey to take command. A trio of nifty blocks accounted for points 10, 11 and 12, and a pair of kills by Sarah Emke finished the two hour and 40 minute marathon.
Four Boilermakers finished in double figures in kills: Emke (19), Gibbons (18), Krupa (13) and Paul (season-high 10). Emke had eight blocks, while Kelly Colangelo added six. Paul, playing the back row for the first time in 1997 while dealing with a stress fracture in her back, and Colangelo had 11 and a career-high 10 digs, respectively. It marks Paul's first career double-double.
Purdue finished with 14 blocks to offset a .168 hitting percentage.
Next up the Boilermakers begin Big Ten play next weekend at home against intrastate rival Indiana on Friday and No. 1-ranked Penn State on Saturday.
Big Ten vs. ACC at Chapel Hill, N.C.
Friday North Carolina def. Purdue 15-5, 15-8, 16-14 Michigan def. Duke 14-16, 15-13, 15-13, 15-7 Saturday Purdue def. Duke 7-15, 8-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-12 Michigan vs. North Carolina, 14-16, 15-10, 15-6, 12-15, 15-13