WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Behind a team effort and a standout performance from sophomore Caitlyn Newton, the No. 16 Boilermakers secured a 3-1 (22-25, 25-13, 25-22, 25-19) win over Northwestern on Saturday night at a sold out Holloway Gymnasium.
Redshirt senior Sherridan Atkinson paced the Boilermakers (12-1, 1-1 Big Ten) with 23 kills to go along with two service aces and four digs. Newton followed with a career-best 16 kills with zero errors for a .667 hitting clip, registering Purdue’s highest-program hitting percentage in a four-set match. Newton’s mark replaces former Boilermaker Melanie Ukovich’s .655 (22-3-29) clip set against Mississippi State in 2003.
As a team, the Boilermakers registered a .281 hitting percentage, while holding the Wildcats to a .148 attack percentage, the fifth time this season Purdue has held its opponent to a sub .150 hitting percentage. Redshirt freshman Hayley Bush quarterbacked the effort with a match-high 46 assists, claiming her 500th career assist seven helpers into the match.
Defensively, senior Brooke Peters guided Purdue with 20 digs, while freshman Marissa Hornung added 11, sophomore Jena Otec chipped in nine and Bush recorded eight.
The Boilermakers continued their streak of out-blocking their foe, 11-6, with freshman Grace Cleveland leading the way with five stuffs on the night.
Powered by back-to-back kills, the Wildcats raced out to a 10-2 lead. Northwestern maintained its control with four kills from Danyelle Williams. With the Wildcats leading, 20-13, a trio of kills from Newton ignited a 5-1 run for the Boilermakers. Newton hammered out three more kills in the set to bring Purdue within two at 24-22, but the Wildcats finished off the set with a fifth kill from Williams.
Persistent, the Boilermakers bounced back with 13-6 open in the second set, fueled three consecutive service aces from Peters. Limiting the Wildcats to a -.111 clip, Purdue capitalized on nine Northwestern miscues with five kills from Atkinson and Newton to cruise to a 25-13 second set to even the match, 1-1.
It was a much more competitive third set as an early 6-2 NU lead turned into 12-12 tie. The teams exchanged point for point, tying the match again at 20 and 22. Knotted at 22, Purdue took advantage of three consecutive Wildcat attack errors and grabbed a 2-1 edge with a 25-22 set three victory.
Looking to finish the Wildcats in four, the Boilermakers once again started out strong with as a pair of kills from Newton and redshirt junior Blake Mohler helped Purdue to a 5-3 edge. A pair of kills from Ella Grbac helped the visitors tie the match at five, before the teams once again traded point-for-point, knotting the score four more times. Tied at 16, a kill from Atkinson helped the Boilermakers to a 4-1 run to take back the advantage. With Purdue leading 22-18, the Boilermakers closed out the 3-1 win with four of the last five points for the 25-19 fourth set victory.
Purdue will look to continue its success as it travels to College Park for a midweek conference contest against Maryland. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.