Nov. 27, 2009
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IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Iowa volleyball team defeated Purdue tonight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a five-set thriller (25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 16-25, 16-14). Sophomore Tiffany Nilges paced the Hawkeyes with her first career double-double, posting career highs in kills (18) and digs (12). Senior Christina Meister led the Hawkeye defense with 17 digs, while junior Mara Hilgenberg led Iowa with 36 assists.
“The win feels great,” said Head Coach Sharon Dingman. “I was really proud of the way we competed. I thought every player on the team came out and played hard. They weren’t looking at the score board, they were just playing very competitive volleyball. That was our game plan and I couldn’t be happier with the effort.”
Senior Megan Schipper set the tone for the night, battling on both sides of the ball and pacing Iowa with four kills and three digs in the opening frame. The Hawkeyes and Boilermakers fought to an 11-11 tie in the match opener before Schipper attacked with a kill to spark a 7-3 Hawkeye run. Purdue later closed within two points, 20-18, before Schipper recorded an ace and a kill to force set-point, 24-20. Sophomore Mallory Husz and junior Katie Kennedy then stepped up to the net and stuffed a Purdue attack to give Iowa the 25-20 set-one victory.
Schipper was aided by Nilges’ career night as Iowa rallied from an early deficit to win set two, 25-21. Trailing 9-6, Nilges recorded one of her five second set kills to spark a 9-0 Hawkeye run and give Iowa its biggest lead of the night, 15-9. Purdue later rallied to tie the set, 20-20, before a kill from Nilges and a pair of kills from junior Becky Walters sparked Iowa’s 5-1 run to give the Hawkeyes the second set victory and a two-game match advantage.
Purdue (5-14, 13-17) then rallied from the intermission with wins in sets three and four to force a decisive game five. The Boilermakers grabbed an early 5-4 lead in the third set and never looked back, battling to a 25-18 win. Purdue matched that effort in set four, seizing a 6-5 lead and holding on for a 25-16 win.
The rubber match started with ties at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3, before the Hawkeyes used kills from Nilges and freshman Emma Krieger Kittle to take a 6-3 advantage. Purdue would rally, and after tying the set, 8-8, the Boilermakers fought off two match points to knot the score at 14-14. Walters than attacked with a kill to force Iowa’s third match point, and Nilges turned the ensuing serve into a Boilermaker error to give Iowa the decisive, 16-14, set-five victory.
“We continued to battle in that fifth set,” said Dingman. “Purdue had the momentum after rallying from two sets down, but we really held our composure and put together a strong effort. Mara was very good controlling the offense and Schip, Tiffany and Emma did a great job on the outside. It was a tremendous team effort by everyone.”
The Hawkeyes (5-14, 13-18) conclude the regular season tomorrow vs. Indiana. Iowa hosts the Hoosiers at 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fans are asked to attend tomorrow’s match and help celebrate the careers of Hawkeye seniors Christina Meister and Megan Schipper. Both will be making their final appearance in the Black and Gold.