VB Takes Down Illinois in Three
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – No. 18 Purdue (14-2, 4-1 B1G) turned in a complete team effort in order to sweep (25-23, 25-19, 25-19) the Fighting Illini (12-4, 3-2 B1G) on their home floor in a packed Huff Hall. Jena Otec’s serve was a game changer for the Boilermakers as she aced the Illini three times and Purdue won the point 12 of the 18 times she served.
“We came in here thinking we could have a balanced attack against Illinois because teams are not going to pay enough attention to our middles,” said head coach Dave Shondell. “We saw in practice this week the emergence of Shavona Cuttino hitting the ball with authority and getting up quick. I thought she was a difference maker in the first set and really throughout she had to be defended.”
“Blake (Mohler) has been really tough to defend the last couple of weeks and Sherridan (Atkinson) got going after the first set. They did a good job on Danielle (Cuttino) and Azariah Stahl has been as solid as you could ever ask her to be in all aspects of the game. Overall, the balance, we thought we could have it and you have to credit Ashley Evans for making that happen, getting the ball to the right people at the right time.”
Purdue’s offense was challenged in the contest as the best blocking team in the Big Ten held the Boilermakers to a .261 hitting percentage. However, Purdue’s defense and serving were the keys to victory as it out-blocked the Illini 10-5, sided-out 69-percent of the time and registered six service aces. Altogether, the Boilermakers held Illinois to a .158 hitting percentage including a .098 hitting percentage in the third set.
Brooke Peters, Stahl and Carissa Damler were impressive in the back row, recording 17, 13 and nine digs respectively. Stahl was just two kills shy of a double-double with a .250 hitting percentage and an ace to her credit on the outside. The Cuttino sisters led the blocking efforts as Shavona Cuttino denied six of Illinois’ swings while Danielle Cuttino finished with five blocks. Both were factors on offense as well as Danielle led the Boilermakers with 13 kills and Shavona posted six kills and a .333 hitting percentage.
Blake Mohler turned in a complete performance in the middle as she finished with nine kills, a .375 hitting percentage and three blocks. Sherridan Atkinson was errorless in the contest with six kills on 16 attempts to match Mohler’s .375 hitting percentage. Floor general Evans assisted the Boilermakers on 37 of their 44 kills while adding two kills, two aces, four digs and a pair of blocks to her line.
Illinois fired out of the gate to appear in control of the first set until a service run by Otec, in which she aced the Illini twice, fueled a 5-0 run to give the Boilermakers a 15-13 lead. Both teams continued to trade blows until Illinois used a 5-2 run to tie the set at 23 but a block by Danielle and Shavona Cuttino gave Purdue the edge it needed to close out the set. Otec delivered a tough serve and Stahl put an end to the rally with a kill.
The Illini jumped out to a 5-3 lead in the second but Otec capped off another service run with an ace to win Purdue’s fourth-straight point, lifting Purdue to a 7-5 advantage. Illinois pulled within one point of Purdue but following a kill by Danielle Cuttino the Boilermakers never looked back. Purdue went off on a 10-3 run to take a 23-15 lead eventually leading to its 25-19 victory in the second set.
Both teams struggled to maintain a lead in the third set, however with the score tied at 13 it was the Illini who blinked first. Purdue used a 7-2 run capped off by an ace from Stahl to take a 20-15 lead, giving the Boilermakers the cushion it needed to control the lead until they closed out the match with a 25-19 score.
Purdue will face a dangerous Northwestern squad in Evanston, Illinois, on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m. ET. The Wildcats will be looking for revenge after falling to the Boilermakers 3-0 in their Big Ten opener.