SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Purdue Sports) — No. 16 Purdue's (23-10, 12-8 B1G) season comes to a close with a 3-1 (23-25, 19-15, 25-13, 25-27) loss to No. 13 Utah (24-9, 13-7 PAC-12) on its home floor at the Jon M Huntsman Center. Purdue out-performed the Utes in the final two stanzas but its comeback attempt wasn't enough as Utah managed to comeback to take the fourth set and advance to the Sweet 16 after trailing 24-22 in the fourth.
"First of all, congratulations to Utah," said head coach Dave Shondell. "Coach Beth Launiere has been a friend of mine for a long time and is a wonderful person. I think everyone here knows that. This is certainly one of the best teams she's had the fortune to coach. They're a likable team, they play hard, they compete, they're well coached, well disciplined, they're athletic, they can do some different things, and they were every bit as good as I was afraid they might be."
"I'm very proud of Purdue. I thought we competed to the very end, there were some incredible rallies down the stretch at the end that showed that both teams belonged to be in this tournament with an opportunity to advance even further. I think these are two really good teams. It's a statement about the Big Ten and the PAC-12 that the fifth and fourth place teams can get together and play that kind of volleyball. It was really impressive."
Thanks to big time efforts in the final two sets, the Boilermakers out-hit (.356-.253), out-dug (64-52), and out-blocked (13-3) the Utes in the contest. Seniors Ashley Evans, Danielle Cuttino and Azariah Stahl gave Purdue everything they had left in the tank in the final match of their collegiate careers.
Evans turned in a complete performance in which she registered 44 assists to set the offense to its .356 hitting percentage while hitting .429 on her own with seven kills and added three blocks and 10 digs to earn her 12th double-double of the season. Stahl turned in her best performance of the season as she registered 15 kills and a .481 hitting percentage with a block and 11 digs to earn a double-double. Cuttino dropped 16 kills and a .333 hitting percentage on the Utes while adding five blocks and six digs to her line.
Blake Mohler turned in the most efficient performance of the night as the redshirt sophomore hit .529 with 10 kills and just one error on 17 swings and six blocks. Coming on late were Sherridan Atkinson and Caitlyn Newton as the two pin hitters were contained early, but fought in the final two sets to finish with seven and five kills respectively. Atkinson added seven blocks and nine digs on the night while Newton earned a block as well.
Brooke Peters led the back row with 12 digs in the contest while freshman Jena Otec added nine of her own. The defense did a solid job of giving Purdue a chance to win as the Boilermakers out-hit Utah in each of the first three stanzas but the Utes took advantage of its 34 more swings on the evening. The Utes registered 18 kills in each of the first two sets and registered 20 kills in the fourth set.