WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — No. 16 Purdue (22-9, 12-8 B1G) finished the regular season with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-21) upset of No. 10 Michigan State (20-8, 13-6 B1G) on Senior Night at a sold-out Holloway Gymnasium. The victory is Purdue's fourth of the season over a top-10 opponent and its third in its last three contests against top-10 programs.
Victories over No. 9 Creighton, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 10 Michigan State mark the first time in program history the Boilermakers have defeated four top-10 opponents in a single season. Purdue now has 56 ranked wins under head coach Dave Shondell and of those wins, 41 have been upsets. Of Purdue's 33 wins over ranked opponents in West Lafayette, Indiana, since 2003 when Shondell took over, the Boilermakers were the lesser-ranked team in 25 of them.
The Boilermakers were fueled by elite performances by their seniors as Ashley Evans, Danielle Cuttino, Azariah Stahl and Carissa Damler were all key contributors in the win. Evans registered 44 assists, 11 digs, three kills, a service ace and four blocks to earn her 10th double-double of the season. With her performance, she becomes the seventh Boilermaker in program history to earn 4,000 career assists and is the first Purdue student-athlete to ever register 4,000 assists and 1,000 digs. Damler matched Evans with an ace of her own.
Cuttino was as dominant as she's ever been in her final match on Belin Court. The Indianapolis, Indiana, native registered 22 kills on 35 swings and hit .457 with four blocks to her credit. Fellow middle blocker Blake Mohler was also a consistent problem for the Spartans as she finished with 11 kills on 22 swings and hit .364 with four blocks as well. Combining the two efforts, Evans set her middles to 33 of Purdue's 51 kills and a .421 hitting percentage as Cuttino and Mohler found the floor on 58-percent of the swings they took.
Sherridan Atkinson was contained to eight kills but denied two of Michigan State's attempts and added an ace to her line. Caitlyn Newton factored in five clutch kills and a .272 hitting percentage in the final two sets.
Purdue's defense was what eventually wore down the Spartans as three Boilermakers finished with dig numbers in double figures. First-year libero Brooke Peters earned 16 digs while Stahl matched Evans with 11 digs to go along with her four blocks. Freshman Jena Otec finished just two digs away from becoming Purdue's fourth student-athlete with 10 digs or more. One of the conference's toughest servers aced the Spartans three times and with her efforts from the service line, Otec leads all Big Ten freshmen with 27 service aces in conference play. Fellow freshman defensive specialist Julianna Reisinger also contributed five digs on the evening.
Purdue now waits for Sunday, Nov. 27, when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee reveals the bracket for the 2017 NCAA Tournament on the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Selection Show at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The volleyball program is hosting a watch party that is open to the public and the media at the Spurgeon Club in Mackey Arena. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
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