Cuttino, Atkinson Earn National Awards
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Danielle Cuttino and Sherridan Atkinson each earned national player of the week honors following Purdue’s upsets of No. 5 Minnesota and No. 10 Wisconsin. Cuttino was named ESPNW Player of the Week for the second time in her career while VolleyMob.com awarded Atkinson with her first National Player of the Week honor.
The duo led Purdue to historical efforts as for the first time in program history, Purdue defeated top-10 opponents on back-to-back days, both of which were in front of sell-out crowds at Holloway Gymnasium. The victory over Minnesota snapped an 11-match winning streak while the win against Wisconsin was the Badgers’ first three-set loss of the season. Purdue now has 55 ranked wins under head coach Dave Shondell and of those wins, 40 were upsets. Of Purdue’s 32 wins over ranked opponents in West Lafayette, Indiana, since 2003 when Shondell took over, the Boilermakers were the lesser-ranked team in 24 of them.
Playing in an offensive system in which she’s hitting on the pins, in the middle and out of the back row, Cuttino led Purdue’s efforts in which it out-hit and out-defended two of the top teams in the nation. She accounted for 10 of Purdue’s 15 blocks on the weekend in which the Boilermakers out-blocked its opponents 15-13 while averaging four kills per set with 28 total kills and a .312 hitting percentage. She’s now hitting .358, averaging 3.81 kills per set and 1.06 blocks per set since she moved to the middle back on October 20 against Penn State.
Atkinson led Purdue hitters with 31 kills on the weekend and averaged 4.43 kills per set while also registering a .364 hitting percentage. The right side was a factor defensively as well, totaling nine blocks and 13 digs to average 1.29 blocks per set and 1.86 digs per set. She has torched opposing defenses in her last seven matches with hitting percentages north of .400 in five of them with at least 10 kills or more. She’s hitting .418 in that stretch, averaging 3.85 kills per set with 104 total kills.
The honorees led an offense that picked apart two of the best defensive units in the Big Ten entering the weekend. Wisconsin and Minnesota were ranked two and three in the league, holding opponents to hitting percentages of .163 and .180 respectively this season. The Badgers averaged 2.71 blocks per set to rank third while the Gophers blocked 2.62 balls per set to own the league’s fourth best average. Minnesota also began Friday night’s match with the conference’s top digs per set average of 16.51.
The duo also led a defense that neutralized two of the top offensive teams in the conference as the Badgers’ .298 hitting percentage ranked third in the Big Ten and the Gophers’ 14.57 kills per set was good for best in the league entering the weekend.