LEXINGTON, Ky. (Purdue Sports) — No. 12 Purdue defeated East Tennessee State, 3-0 (25-23, 25-7, 25-18) to open the 2018 NCAA tournament at Memorial Coliseum on Friday evening.
"We were really concerned about East Tennessee State University," Shondell said. They've had a fantastic season. They've got a couple of players from our neighborhood that we are very familiar with—a setter that I recruited at Purdue. So, it was a match that we spent a lot of time preparing for and I think it was one of those matches for us where we did a lot of good things. We kept the pressure on them and it helped us persevere. We're just happy to be advancing and we know there will be another really good team to play tomorrow but it was a good performance for us and I told our players in the locker room I thought our ball control players made the difference tonight. Their presence on the floor was significant—from the serving to the passing to the defense to just the way they looked on the floor—I thought was a real difference tonight."
With the win, the Boilermakers advance to the NCAA Second Round match up against the victor of No. 10 Kentucky and Murray State. It is the 13th time in 13 appearances under head coach Dave Shondell that the Boilermakers advance to the second round.
Redshirt senior Sherridan Atkinson and freshman Grace Cleveland led the Boilermakers with double-digit kills. Atkinson posted a match-high of 12, also recording seven digs and four blocks, while Cleveland finished with 10, while also adding a block.
Sophomore Caitlyn Newton aided the Boilermaker offense with nine kills on 15 swings for a .467 hitting clip.
Freshman Marissa Hornung was the lone Boilermaker and student-athlete to record double-digit kills. The rookie led Purdue with a match-best 16 digs, while sophomore Jena Otec followed with seven and senior Brooke Peters chipped in five.
In a competitive opening set, the teams saw the score knotted seven times. At the final tie of 22, the Boilermakers prevailed with a kill from redshirt junior Blake Mohler and a pair of kills from Atkinson, taking the set 25-23. Overall, the Bucs lead Purdue in kills 16-14, but the Boilermakers capitalized on nine ETSU errors to claim the edge.
It was a much improved start to the second set at the Boilermakers rattled off seven points before the Bucs got on the board. Fueled by 15 team kills, including seven from Cleveland, Purdue never allowed its lead to drop to single digits, sailing to a 25-7 second set victory. The set win saw Purdue hit a .700 clip to defeat an opponent by 18 points in the tournament for the first time since 2007, when the Boilermakers outpaced Cal Poly 30-12 in their matchup's opening set.
Leading 2-0, Purdue jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the third and never looked back, closing the match with a 25-18 final frame. The set was highlighted by six kills from Atkinson and five Boilermakers registering at least one dig.
The win marked Purdue's first sweep since the Boilermakers defeated Ohio State in three sets on Oct. 21. The Boilermakers now own a 24-8 overall record as well as a 29-19 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches, including a 23-12 showing under Shondell.