Purdue Gets Swept by Illinois


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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 18 Boilermaker volleyball team's bid for a fourth-straight conference win was thwarted by the No. 19 Illinois Fighting Illini Wednesday night. Illinois won the match 3-0 by scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-21.

Seniors Stephanie Lynch and Danita Merlau paced the Purdue offense with 10 kills apiece, while redshirt freshman Mandy Nichols and junior Kristen Arthurs added six each. Defensively, senior Kelli Miller racked up 14 digs, while Nichols added nine.

Illinois managed a 7-5 lead to start the match, but Purdue rallied to tie the score four times, before going ahead 11-10 on a kill by Gurnell. Another Gurnell putaway and an ace by Lynch put the Boilermakers up two at 13-11, but the Illini charged back with three straight to regain the lead at 14-13. A block by sophomore Jaclyn Hart and Arthurs knotted the score for the 12th time, but Illinois racked up 11 of the next 15 to close out the set at 25-18. Laura DeBruler chalked up 10 kills in the stanza for Illinois, while the Boilermakers matched the total as a team.

Purdue took an early 5-3 lead in the second set, behind putaways by Merlau, Lynch and Gurnell. Illinois scored three straight to go up 6-5, but the Boilermakers countered with three of the next five to make it 8-7. The back-and-forth battle continued as UI countered with a 7-4 run to take a 14-12 lead. A trio of Illini miscues put Purdue up 15-14 midway through, then a pair of Nichols putaways kept the Boilermakers on top. Trailing 17-16, Illinois rattled off nine of the next 12 to take the 25-20 win. Merlau tallied six kills in the stanza, while Lynch added four.

The teams split the first 10 points of the third set. The Illini, however, scored eight of the next 12 to go up 13-9. The Boilermakers slashed the margin to one at 14-13 as Lynch, redshirt sophomore Lisa Pierce and Arthurs supplied putaways. Illinois pushed the margin to three at 18-15, but a service error and a Lynch kill made it a one-point game again at 18-17 and prompted a UI timeout. The teams traded points over the next six serves leading to a 21-20 score, but Purdue was unable to break through as the Illini closed out the set at 25-21. Lynch tallied six kills in the final set, while Arthurs tacked on four, but it was not enough.

The Boilermakers (16-5, 5-4 Big Ten) return to action at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, when they take on Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., to wrap up the first half of conference play.

Article courtesy of Purdue athletics.

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