SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Purdue Sports) — No. 16 Purdue (23-9, 12-8 B1G) won its 12th NCAA Tournament opener in as many trips to the postseason under head coach Dave Shondell with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-12) victory over High Point (24-8, 16-0 Big South). Purdue's defense was the difference in the contest as the Boilermakers out-blocked (12-3) and out-dug (59-51) the opposition to hold High Point to a .073 hitting percentage in the match.
"We're happy to be moving on," said head coach Dave Shondell. "I know how hard it is to advance in the NCAA Tournament and to get into the NCAA Tournament so we're really excited that we got the win. I'm proud of the way we fought, the way we competed and now we're ready for whatever happens next."
Purdue seniors Danielle Cuttino, Ashley Evans, Azariah Stahl and Carissa Damler willed Purdue to victory as they were each a major factor offensively and defensively for the Boilermakers. Evans set the offense on 39 of its 53 kills while adding five kills, a .364 hitting percentage, three blocks and 14 digs to earn her 11th double-double of the season. Cuttino posted a match-best 20 points thanks to 18 kills, a .368 hitting percentage and four blocks. Stahl added six kills while hitting .385 to complement her 10 digs two blocks and an ace. Damler earned her second ace in as many matches with three digs in the contest.
Blake Mohler seemed to come up with the clutch play whenever Purdue needed it most as she finished the night with eight kills, a .273 hitting percentage and seven blocks. Sherridan Atkinson continues to thrive offensively and defensively for the Boilermakers as she finished with 11 kills, six digs and four blocks while Caitlyn Newton added four kills and a pair of blocks in her first NCAA Tournament contest.
Leading the defense was first-year libero Brooke Peters who finished the match with 10 digs and a pair of service aces. Freshmen Jena Otec and Julianna Reisinger were both impressive in their first taste of postseason play as they finished the night with eight and six digs respectively. After the Panthers hit .290 in the first set, Purdue responded defensively by holding High Point to 27 kills and forced 26 errors on 106 swings in the final three sets. The defensive effort led to a .009 hitting percentage by the Panthers in the final three stanzas.
Purdue moves on to the Round of 32 and will play No. 13 Utah on Friday, Dec. 1, at 9 p.m. ET at the Utes' Jon M. Huntsman Center.