Serve It Up

Aug. 29, 2005

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue volleyball team kicks off its 2005 campaign at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the Dayton Flyers visit the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility. The Boilermakers will be looking to win their ninth season opener in the last 10 seasons.

Multimedia Information
All four of this week's matches will be broadcast live on WLAS 1410 AM and on Live stats of the Dayton match also will be available on Fans can access the live radio feed by clicking on the "Listen" link next to each match on the schedule on the site front page or on the volleyball schedule page. Live stats can be accessed by clicking on the GameTracker link in the same locations.

Series Information
Dayton (Dayton leads 2-0): The Boilermakers and Flyers are renewing a series which began on Oct. 15, 1977. Dayton took that contest, which was played in Oxford, Ohio, by a score of 2-0. The teams last met in an Oct. 30, 1979 match in West Lafayette. The Flyers won that match 3-0.

Saint Louis (Purdue leads 2-0): The Boilermakers and Billikens have met twice previously with Purdue taking both contests. The Boilermakers won a 3-0 decision in West Lafayette in 2000, and earned a 3-1 victory in St. Louis in 2003. This is the first neutral site meeting.

Bradley: This is the first meeting between the Boilermakers and the Braves.

Pacific (Pacific leads 5-0): This year's meeting in Stockton, Calif., marks the first meeting between the Boilermakers and the Tigers since the 1988 season. The teams first met on Oct. 19, 1979 in Logan, Utah, where the Tigers won 2-0. The teams played two contests in 1980, one in 1984 and, most recently, on Sept. 3, 1988. The Boilermakers are 0-2 when playing in Stockton.

A Look at the Boilermakers
Purdue, which returns five starters from last season, looks to continue its ascension into the national prominence in 2005. The Boilermakers are fresh off their best season in recent history, after garnering an NCAA Tournament berth and a sixth-place conference finish in 2004. Twelve letterwinners return from last year's squad which posted a 17-15 overall record and a 9-11 mark in conference play. Four highly touted freshmen will help fill the holes left by three graduated seniors.

Senior left side hitter Leah Wischmeier leads the list of returning offensive players. Wischmeier put down 3.92 kills per game, while hitting at a .270 clip in 2004. Sophomore outside hitter Sammi Mader tallied 2.70 kills, while junior right side hitter Melanie Ukovich accounted for 2.22 kills and 0.67 blocks per game. Sophomore Lizzie Jacques will lead Purdue in the middle after posting 1.90 kills per game, a .310 hitting percentage and 0.79 blocks per game last year. Sophomore Emily Williams (1.10 kpg, 0.69 bpg) and senior Sarah Vitali will also see time at the middle hitter position.

Preseason All-Big Ten honoree Renata Dargan returns as court director after handing out 13.30 assists per game last season. The senior setter also accounted for 1.79 digs, 1.56 kills and 0.78 blocks per game. Senior defensive specialist Lauren Berg leads the Boilermaker backcourt players. Berg averaged 2.80 digs per game in 2004, despite missing a month of season due to injury. Sophomore Anne Mastandrea pulled up 2.75 digs per game, while junior Brittany Dildine accounted for 2.42 digs per stanza. Berg and Williams are still recovering from ACL injuries suffered during the spring season.

The Boilermakers add height and depth to their roster with four freshmen: 5-10 left side hitter Krystle King, 6-3 middle hitter Stephanie Lynch, 6-4 left side hitter Danita Merlau and 5-8 left side hitter/defensive specialist Kelli Miller. Purdue is coached by Dave Shondell, who is in his third year with the team.

Facts about the Flyers
The Dayton Flyers enter Tuesday's meeting after posting a 2-0 record en route to the tournament title at the Pepsi Challenge in Charleston, Ill., over the weekend. The Flyers defeated Bradley (3-2) and host Eastern Illinois (3-0) at the tournament, as sophomore outside hitter Robynne Green and junior middle hitter Faye Barhorst garnered all-tournament team honors. In two matches, the Flyers have racked up 13 aces.

Dayton returns 11 letterwinners from its 2004 NCAA Tournament team that ended the season with a 23-9 record and a first place tie in the Atlantic 10 (12-2). The team is led by its five returning starters: Barhorst, Green, sophomore outside hitter Amanda Kenny, senior setter Nicole Schott and sophomore libero Adrienne Green. Barhorst averaged 4.44 kills and 1.47 blocks per game in 2004 en route to Honorable Mention All-America honors. Robynne Green averaged 1.94 kills and 1.47 blocks per game en route to Atlantic 10 Rookie Team honors, while Kenny tallied 1.26 kills and 1.15 digs per game on the outside. Schott averaged 11.16 assists, 2.54 digs and 1.06 digs per game as the team's starting setter, while Adrienne Green pulled up 4.30 digs per game in the libero role.

The Flyers must replace Christy Utnage (4.51 kpg, 3.41 dpg) who was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in 2004 and Shanna Pressler (1.80 kpg, 2.72 dpg and 0.73 bpg). Five freshmen and two redshirt players join the 2004 corps. Dayton is coached by Tim Horsmon, who is in his third year with the Flyers.

Scouting Saint Louis
The Saint Louis Billikens bring a 2-1 record into the Nike Invitational after competing in the Clarion Hotel Missouri State Invitational to open the season. SLU topped Southeast Missouri State (3-1) and Arkansas-Little Rock (3-1) and fell to Kansas State (3-0) in the Springfield, Mo., event.

Saint Louis is looking to improve on its 15-17 record from a year ago. The Billikens return 10 letterwinners including five starters from that squad, and also add three newcomers to the mix. Senior middle hitter Aida Antanaviciute, who earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades in 2004, leads the Billiken offense after averaging 6.21 kills and 2.80 digs per game. Senior outside hitter Lauren Boissevain averaged 2.26 kills, 2.55 digs and 5.19 assists per game in 2004, while sophomore middle hitter Sutton Lasater averaged 2.34 kills, and 1.02 blocks per game, while serving up 31 aces. Sophomore outside hitter Chrissy King pulled up 2.73 digs per game while serving up 31 aces, while senior setter Erin McClanahan dished out 11.77 assists per game and tallied 2.29 digs per game.

SLU must replace libero Jessica Kmitta, but junior outside hitter Tatyana Menshikova, a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, has picked up part of the load. In just three matches, Menshikova has made a drastic impact on the team, tallying 59 kills and 32 digs, an average of 5.36 kills and 2.91 digs per game, while serving up 10 aces. The Billikens are coached by Anne Kordes, who is in her second year with the team.

A Bit About Bradley
The Bradley Braves are looking to shake an 0-2 start when they take on Pacific on the opening day of the Nike Invitational. The Braves opened the season with five-game losses to Dayton and Eastern Illinois at the Pepsi Challenge on Saturday. Senior middle hitter Lindsay Stalzer and sophomore Nikki Pierzchala earned all-tournament team honors for their efforts.

The Braves return 11 letterwinners, including all six starters from the 2004 squad which went 9-20 overall. Stalzer led the team with 4.97 kills and 1.05 blocks per game as well as 34 aces last season. Biony Hammet averaged 2.90 digs and 2.17 kills per game, while Gillian Falnor pulled up a team-best 3.33 digs per game. Amy McFarland averaged 1.04 kills and 0.90 blocks per game, while setter Ashley Vance dished out 11.77 assists to go with 2.10 digs per game.

The Braves add a pair of freshmen, Katrina Goncher and Sam Black to their ranks. Bradley is coached by Scott Luster, who is in his seventh season with the team.

A Peak at Pacific
The Pacific Tigers prepare to host the Nike Invitational after posting a 2-1 record at the Marquette Kick-Off Tournament last weekend. The Tigers started the tournament with a four-game loss to Virginia Commonwealth, then rebounded with wins over North Dakota State (3-0) and Marquette (3-1).

Pacific posted a 19-10 record in 2004, including a second-place finish in the Big West and an NCAA Tournament berth. Ten players return from that team, including four starters, while five newcomers join the fold. Senior middle hitter Sidney Bennett compiled a .332 hitting percentage last season, while averaging 3.42 kills and 1.14 blocks per game and serving up a team-high 33 aces. Senior outside hitter Ashley Groothuis tallied 4.14 kills and 2.31 digs per game. Senior middle hitter Susan Drollinger added 1.85 kills per game and served up 27 aces, while sophomore libero Julie Magud averaged 3.61 digs per game.

The Tigers must replace setter Hayley Anderson (12.56 apg, 2.45 dpg), Joanna Rentz (1.83 dpg), Sarah Vinall (1.78 kpg, 21 aces) and Stevie Mussie (3.53 kpg, 2.89 dpg). Five newcomers look to fill those rolls. After three matches, Groothius leads the team with 5.18 kills per game. Pacific is coached by Jayne McHugh, who is in her fifth season with the team.

Sizing Up the Opposition

Category       Purdue    Dayton    Saint Louis   Pacific      Bradley
Hitting %       .256      .258        .226         .268	        .187
Kills          16.81     16.62       15.52        16.23	       14.47
Assists        15.55     15.45       14.13        14.56	       13.42
Aces            1.18      1.39        1.35         1.56	        1.37
Blocks          2.29      3.37        2.50         2.23	        2.14
Digs           16.43     17.24       14.47        16.30	       15.19

Preseason Picks
Renata Dargan, a 6-foot setter, was one of 12 players named to the preseason All-Big Ten list as voted on by the league's coaches. The honor is just the latest conference accolade for the New Lenox, Ill., native. Dargan was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2002 and as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection the last two seasons.

The New Lenox, Ill., native has compiled more than 4,000 assists in her three-year Boilermaker career, an average of 12.11 per game, and stands fourth on the all-time assists list with 4,383. In 2004, Dargan dished out 13.30 assists per game, which ranked 18th in the nation. She also added 1.79 digs, 1.56 kills and 0.78 blocks per game, while serving up 26 aces.

The Big Ten coaches also tabbed the Purdue team to finish fifth in the conference race. Two-time defending league champion Penn State, which is ranked No. 5 in the AVCA preseason national coaches poll, was named as the preseason favorite, followed by Minnesota and Wisconsin.

What a Difference a Win Makes...

If the Boilermakers top Dayton tonight...

• They will garner their first win in the series with the Flyers.

• They will have won their season opener for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

• They will improve the program's opening day record to 25-6 all-time, and 14-1 in season openers played at home.

• They will improve the program's record to 24-7 in all-time home openers.

Talented Freshmen
This year's freshman class was ranked among the Top 10 recruiting classes nationally by both and Volleyball Magazine. The former dubbed the Purdue freshmen as the sixth-best class in the nation, while the latter tabbed the Boilermaker rookies as the ninth-best class. Left side hitter Danita Merlau (New Palestine, Ind.) and middle hitter Stephanie Lynch (New Albany, Ind.) were named as Fab50 players by Volleyball Magazine, while Merlau, Lynch and left side hitter/defensive specialist Kelli Miller (Muncie, Ind.) were all named among the Top 50 senior recruits by

Tall Tall Trees
At 6-foot-4, freshman Danita Merlau is one of the tallest players to ever don a Purdue volleyball uniform. Lyndsey Phillips (2001) is the only other player of that stature to play for the Boilermakers. Only five players have measured 6-foot-3 or taller in Purdue history. Two current players, freshman Stephanie Lynch and sophomore Lizzie Jacques, as well as Monica Hardy (1991) have each topped out at 6-foot-3.

Tough Competition
The Boilermaker volleyball team will take on tough competition this season, facing 10 teams that parcipated in last year's NCAA Tournament, including five that finished the season among the nation's Top 25.

Record Watch
Senior Renata Dargan is just 201 assists shy of the Purdue career record. The setter has tallied 4,383 assists thus far in her three-year career, a tally which ranks fourth on Purdue's all-time assists list. The court director, who has averaged 12.11 assists per game in her career, surpassed both the 3,000 and 4,000-assist milestones in 2004. Dargan became just the fifth player in Boilermaker history to surpass the 4,000 assist mark.

Dargan owns three spots among the single-season top 10 lists and put her name in the single-game record book with a 72-assist performance against Michigan on Oct. 1, 2004. That tally was the second-highest, four-game match total in Purdue history. In addition to 13.30 assists per game, Dargan added 1.79 digs, 1.56 kills per game and 26 aces to the team's 2004 totals.

The New Lenox, Ill., native, was one of 12 players named to the preseason All-Big Ten list as voted on by the league's coaches. The honor is just the latest conference accolade for the New Lenox, Ill., native. Dargan was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2002 and as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection the last two seasons.

Wisch is a Star
Left side hitter Leah Wischmeier became the 17th Boilermaker player to surpass the 1,000-career kill mark last year. The Brownstown, Ind., tallied the milestone kill came in Game 5 of Purdue's Nov. 6, 2004, match with Michigan. Wischmeier wrapped up the season with 1,089 total kills. In her Boilermaker career, Wischmeier has averaged 3.33 kills per game, a tally which ranks eighth on the Purdue kills per game list. She needs 134 more kills to enter the career top 10 list in that category.

Can You Dig It?
With 31 digs in Purdue's Sept. 4, 2004 match with Missouri, defensive specialist Anne Mastandrea became the first Purdue player since 1990 to pull up more than 30 digs in a match. With the effort, the Downers Grove, Ill., native became the first Purdue player to eclipse the 30-dig mark since Kelly Niedbalski tallied 32 on Oct. 12, 1990. Graduated senior Daren Poe followed the effort with a 33-dig performance against Illinois on Nov. 13, marking the second highest dig tally behind Becky Kanitz's pair of 37-dig matches in 1987.

Across the Pond
Graduated senior Kim McConaha has taken her talents to the next level. The middle hitter from Centerville, Ind., is playing volleyball professionally in La Rochette, France this fall. McConaha is a member of the Melun Val De Seine La Rochette team. The squad will play its first match of the season on Sept. 9 in Belgium. Former Penn State player Sydney Nadeau is also on the team.

Going for the Record
Purdue set the NCAA single-match attendance record for volleyball on Oct. 29, 1985, when 10,645 fans filled Mackey Arena for a match between the Boilermakers and Western Michigan. That record has since been topped, but the Boilermakers hope to reclaim the record for their own. The squad will play in Mackey Arena on Oct. 2 as part of a Pack Mackey promotion, during which tickets are just one dollar and the Boilermakers hope to pack in an NCAA record crowd. It would take 13,195 fans to break the current NCAA mark of 13,194, which was set when Long Beach State and Penn State met in the 1998 NCAA Finals. The match took place on Dec. 19, 1998 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.

If the Boilermakers acheive a new record mark, they would also break the Big Ten regular season record of 10,927, which was set when Minnesota and Illinois met in Williams Arena (Minneapolis) on Oct. 16, 2004.

Among the Nation
The Boilermakers' 2004 statistics not only ranked them among the top of the Big Ten, but also put the team among the top tier of the nation. In the final statistical rankings, setter Renata Dargan's average of 13.30 assists per game put the her at No. 18 on the national list. As a team, Purdue made the national top 40 in three categories: assists per game (14th with 15.54), kills per game (18th with 16.80) and hitting percentage (40th with .253).

Smarty Pants
Senior Leah Wischmeier garnered second-team Academic All-America honors in 2004 as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Wischmeier, a three-time Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten honoree, was the first Boilermaker player to garner the national honor since Barbara Meeker did so in 1988. The Brownstown, Ind., native who owns a perfect GPA in her health sciences major, is one of 18 players granted Academic All-America status, six to each of three teams. Wischmeier was the lone Big Ten representative among the honored student athletes and is one of three District V honorees. In addition to excelling in her studies, Wischmeier posted 3.92 kills and 1.08 digs per game on the court to go with a .270 hitting percentage.

A Banner Year
The 2004 Boilermakers reached several team and program milestones in 2004. The team beat four Top 25 teams, matching a task last completed by the 1985 team.

The Boilermakers also picked up season sweeps of Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana and Iowa. The sweep of the Fighting Illini was the first since 1982, while the Michigan State wins were the first since 1992. Purdue swept Indiana for the second straight season, a task last accomplished in the 1984-1985 seasons. Purdue swept Iowa for the first time since 1998, then followed it with the program's first win over Wisconsin since 1992.

Individually, three players surpassed the 1,000-kill milestone in seniors Kim McConaha and Kim Cappa as well as redshirt junior Leah Wischmeier. Senior Daren Poe reached the 1,000-dig milestone for her career and setter Renata Dargan posted both her 3,000th and 4,000th career assist. McConaha posted her second career triple-double in the regular season finale. Poe and freshman Annie Mastandrea became the first players to compile more than 30 digs in a match since 1990.

Several players earned spots among the Boilermaker single season and career top 10 lists. On the single-season lists, Poe posted the third-best digs per game tally (4.02) and is third on the digs list with 470. Dargan has handed out 1,556 assists to rank second on that list, while McConaha ranked third on the single-season block assists list with 129 and 10th on the kills per game register with 4.02.

The trio also rewrote the career top 10 lists. In her three years at Purdue, Poe averaged 3.72 digs per game, topping the previous record of 3.56 dpg set by Becky Kanitz (1985-88). She also ranked second on the all-time digs list with 1,299. McConaha set a new Purdue career block assists mark with 282 total, while Dargan climbed to fourth on the career assists list with 4,383. She is just 201 shy of Taryn Catlin's career tally of 4,584. McConaha put herself among the career top 10 in seven different categories: block assists (1st with 382), total blocks (6th with 441), blocks per game (6th with 1.06), kills per game (6th with 3.40), kills (7th with 1,418), total attempts (7th with 3,438) and hitting percentage (10th with .286).

The team finished the regular season with a 16-14 overall record, including a 9-11 mark in the Big Ten Conference. Their 17 overall wins and the nine conference victories were the most since the 1992 season, when the team went 17-13 and 10-10 in the Big Ten. With the 9-11 conference mark, Purdue finished in a sixth-place tie with Michigan, marking the team's best Big Ten finish since 1993, when the team also placed sixth.

In a Single Game...
The Boilermakers not only rewrote season and career records in 2004, several players posted stats that ranked among the single-game top five. Senior Daren Poe pulled up 33 digs against Illinois, Nov. 13, marking the third-most by a Purdue player all time. Freshman Annie Mastandrea also joined the single-game dig top five with 31 against Missouri, Sept. 4. Both marks also rank among the top five dig tallies in a five-game match. In three-game match records, sophomore Brittany Dildine served up six aces, second most all-time in a short match. Redshirt junior Leah Wischmeier posted a .619 hitting percentage against Central Michigan to rank fifth on that list. In four-game matches, Poe tallied 27 digs against Valparaiso to rank fifth. Dargan posted 72 assists at Michigan to rank second on the list. Dargan reached the five-game match top five in hitting percentage with a .571 at Indiana (15-3-21) and a .500 effort at Michigan State (9-0-18).




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