Dec. 12, 2008

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The 10th-seeded Boilermaker volleyball team had its chances against No. 6 Hawai'i but could not close the door on the Rainbow Wahine, instead falling 3-1. Hawai'i won the match 18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-20 to move on to the Elite Eight and end Purdue's season.

"I can't find anything negative to say about our team tonight," head coach Dave Shondell said. "I feel bad for our three seniors who did all of things they needed to do to get us here, but unfortunately it didn't work out, at time for obvious reasons and at times for strange reasons. I felt bad about game three. We felt like we were in the driver's seat and should have been ahead 24-20, but wound up tied at 22-22. Even still, we thought we were in position to win, but we didn't seize it. That is when the match was won or lost; that was the real turning point."

Sophomore Kristen Arthurs paced the Purdue offense with 14 kills on .500 hitting effort, while senior Stephanie Lynch racked up 13 putaways and six blocks in her final match as a Boilermaker. Senior Danita Merlau tacked on eight putaways, while junior Carrie Gurnell added seven.

Defensively, senior libero Kelli Miller pulled up 11 digs, while freshman Emily Ehlers and sophomore Jaclyn Hart added 10 each. Hart rounded out her double-double with 34 assists. At the net, Merlau put up five blocks, while Arthurs added four. Purdue outblocked the Rainbow Wahine 13 to 9, but won only that statistical category.

The Boilermakers started the match on a 7-3 tear, including a pair of blocks by Lynch and an ace by Pierce. The Rainbow Wahine made it a two-point game at 7-5 and remained close until Purdue scored three in a row, including a kill and a block assist by Merlau to go up by five at 13-8. Trailing 14-9, Hawai'i posted a 4-0 run to cut it to 14-13. The Boilermakers took advantage of a service miscue and added kills by Hart and Arthurs to push the lead back to four at 18-14 prompting a UH timeout. Putaways by Gurnell and Arthurs made it 22-17 and forced the Rainbow Wahine to use their second and final timeout. Ullrich served up an ace out of the break. A double-hit call on Hart paused Purdue momentarily, but Arthurs pounded a kill off the block attempt and Merlau put down the final kill at 25-18 as Hawaii was in the net. The Boilermakers outhit the Rainbow Wahine .345 to .147 and outblocked UH 3-1 in the stanza.

Purdue jumped out to the early lead again in the second set, going up 7-2 early, despite dropping the first two points of the stanza. A trio of blocks and an ace by Pierce helped the Boilermakers to the advantage. Hawai'i cut the margin to three at 11-8. The teams split the next eight points leading to a 15-12 score. Back-to-back hitting miscues pushed the Purdue lead back to five at 17-12, but the Rainbow Wahine rattled off six straight to go up 18-17. The Boilermakers were forced to use both of their alloted timeouts during the rally. A kill by Arthurs tied the score at 18, but UH tacked on four more points after the effort to go up 22-18 on an ace by Jayme Lee. Hawai'i tallied two hitting errors followed by two kills to bring up set-point at 24-20. A service error and a putaway by Lynch kept the set going, but Jamie Houston pounded down her eighth kill of the match to give Hawai'i the 25-22 win. The Boilermakers hit -.030 in the stanza and UH racked up four blocks.

The Boilermakers and Rainbow Wahine split the first 12 points of the third set, with the lead changing hands four times during the span. Down 6-5, Purdue capitalized on a pair of UH miscues then Gurnell put up a solo block to put the Boilermakers on top 8-6. Purdue kept at it, turning an 11-9 lead into a 17-11 advantage as Lynch pounded down three kills and Merlau and Arthurs tacked on one each. The Rainbow Wahine called a timeout at that point and scored six of the next eight to cut the Purdue lead to two at 19-17, prompting a Boilermaker pause. Purdue scored three of the next five including a block and kill by Arthurs and an overpass putaway by Lynch to make it 22-19. Back-to-back UH kills and a questionable Boilermaker hitting miscue brought the score to a 22-22 tie. The Rainbow Wahine closed out the set with three of the next four including two more Purdue hitting errors and the final putaway by Houston. Hawaii hit .278 in the set to Purdue's .194 effort in the comeback win.

Purdue scored three of the first four points of set 4 as Merlau tallied two kills and Lynch added one, but Hawai'i evened the score at five and six, before pushing ahead to a 9-6 lead of its own. The Rainbow Wahine kept the edge, going up by four at 13-9. The Boilermakers narrowed the gap to one at 13-12 and forced a UH timeout after putaways by Lynch and Merlau and a stuff by Hart and Arthurs. Merlau set the ball over to tie it up at 13, but Hawai'i managed to go up three at 17-14. Freshman Tiffany Fisher registered a cross-court kill to cut it to two. The teams split the next eight point leading to a 21-19 score. The Rainbow Wahine then took advantage of back-to-back Purdue errors to go up 23-19. A UH hitting error helped the Boilermaker cause, but a kill by Kanani Danielson and a block by Danielson and Amber Kaufman ended Purdue's Elite Eight hopes at 25-20. Hawaii hit .405 in the final set en route to the victory.

The Boilermakers wrap up the season at 26-9, the program's best mark since 1985, as seniors Stephanie Lynch, Danita Merlau and Kelli Miller finished out their Purdue careers.