Irish volleyball ready to pay back Boilermakers
Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Don’t be fooled by the rankings. Tonight’s match against unranked Purdue will be a battle for the No. 18 Irish.
“[Today] is going to be a huge match for us,” setter Kristen Kinder said. “Last year we had a bad match with them.”
In 2002, the Irish defeated No. 10 Pepperdine at the Joyce Center in an exciting five-game match. Four days later in West Lafayette, Ind. the Irish built off that momentum, winning the first two games against the Boilermakers, but Purdue won the last three games and upset the Irish.
Purdue (7-2) comes off a strong weekend at the Mortar Board Purdue Premier tournament, beating Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee State and Indiana State en route to the title. They won nine of the 10 games they played.
On the other hand, the Irish come off a disappointing loss to South Carolina in the final match of the Shamrock Invitational. The Irish only managed to hit .165 in the match, almost 100 points lower than their season average.
“We really didn’t have a strong offensive night,” Kinder said. “We’re going to be fired up, motivated and ready to go.”
Kinder is joined on the front lines by outside hitter Emily Loomis and middle hitters Lauren Kelbley and Lauren Brewster. Loomis leads the team in hitting with a .325 hitting percentage to go along with 3.81 kills per game.
Meanwhile, Kelbley hits .311 and averages 3.29 kills per game. Brewster racks up 3.16 kills per game, while leading the team in blocking (1.28 blocks per game).
Kinder is joined by her sister Jessica, who leads the team with 16 aces and 3.19 digs per game. Their senior leadership, with the two being co-captains, has been crucial for the young Irish.
“I think we both take full responsibility for the team, win or lose,” Kristen Kinder said. “It is our jobs to get the team going.”
The Kinders know that tonight’s game will be crucial, as Purdue leads the all-time series 11-6. The Boilermakers took the first nine matches, beginning in 1983, and ending in 1989, when thPe Irish were finally victorious.
Purdue is among the best in the Big Ten, ranking third in hitting percentage
(.282), assists (15.41 per game), kills (17 per game) and aces (1.91 per game).
However, the Irish are up to the challenge and eager for revenge from last year’s defeat, with the Kinders looking to lead the Irish back into the win column.
“No matter what happens, it’s on our shoulders to make it better,” Kristen Kinder said. “We shouldn’t have a problem bouncing back.”