Illinois Defeats Purdue in Five-Game Thriller at Huff Hall
Oct. 24, 2003
Champaign, Ill. -
Behind the hot hitting of senior Melissa Vandrey, the Illini volleyball team defeated Purdue in an exciting five-game match by the score of 22-30, 30-23, 30-14, 34-36, 15-11 in front of 1,481 fans at Huff Hall. With the victory, Illinois extends its winning streak to five in a row and improves to 16-3 on the season and 7-2 in Big Ten play. Purdue, meanwhile, falls to 12-7 overall and 5-4 in the conference.
Vandrey was a workhorse for the Illini, belting a career-high 30 kills on the evening. She outdid her previous best of 26 kills, which also came against Purdue during her freshman season (Oct. 4, 2000). Vandrey's 30 kills are the most by an Illini player in four seasons, since former UI outside hitter Shadia Haddad tallied 32 kills at Florida on Dec. 3, 1999 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Vandrey took a career-high 63 swings in tonight's match, the most attack attempts by an Illini player this season. She had just seven errors on the night to record an astounding hitting percentage of .365 from the left side. She added nine digs, three blocks and an ace to round out the best match of her collegiate career.
Reigning national player of the week Jessica Belter had 17 kills on .500 hitting and finished with a double-double, adding 13 digs. The Illini had a total of five players record double figures in kills on the evening, with senior Lisa Argabright (16 kills), sophomore Rachel VanMeter (12) and senior Shelly O'Bryan (10) joining Vandrey and Belter.
Junior setter Erin Virtue set a career-high 80 assists and led the Illini to a team hitting percentage of .271. Illinois outhit Purdue by more than 100 points on the night (.271-to-.150), highlighted by .311 hitting in game two, .483 hitting in game three and .476 hitting in the deciding fifth game.
The Illini outblocked the Boilermakers 14-11, led by six blocks apiece from Argabright and O'Bryan, and outdug Purdue 88-72. Junior libero Lauren Harks tied her season high with 19 digs while freshman Beth Vrdsky had a career-high 14 digs.
Illinois is back in action Saturday night, hosting Indiana (9-11, 2-7) at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall. Fans attending the Illinois-Minnesota Homecoming football game can bring their ticket stub to receive free admission to the volleyball match.