UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (Purdue Sports) — Behind a career night from redshirt senior Sherridan Atkinson, the No. 17 Boilermakers repeated history with a 3-2 upset over No. 4 Penn State on Saturday night. Resembling Purdue's 2010 five-set victory over the Nittany Lions, the come-from-behind 11-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 20-18 win is Purdue's first against a Top-5 opponent this season and the first over Penn State since 2010. It also marked head coach Dave Shondell's first career victory in Rec Hall and Purdue's first win in University Park since the Boilermakers defeated Penn State, 3-1, in 1982.
Delivering an All-American performance, Atkinson led the way with a career-best and match-high 32 kills to become the first Boilermaker to register a 30+ kill performance since Annie Drews tallied 33 at Western Kentucky in 2014. Fourteen kills into her stellar performance, the veteran also became the 17th Boilermaker in Purdue program history to notch 1,000 career kills. Danielle Cuttino was the last Boilermaker to achieve the milestone last season.
Sophomore Caitlyn Newton followed with an essential 15 kills of her own, while redshirt junior Blake Mohler punched nine kills and freshman Grace Cleveland added six. Overall, Penn State outhit Purdue .257-.233, but the Boilermakers dominated the last three sets: .312-.184, .302-.243 and .321-.182.
Defensively, freshman Marissa Hornung tied her career-best mark with 16 digs, while sophomore Jena Otec pulled up 14 digs for second-straight match. Sophomore Julianna Reisinger added nine and senior Brooke Peters tallied six. At the net, freshman Jael Johnson guided the Boilermakers with a four assisted blocks while Atkinson and Cleveland each chipped in a solo stuff.
Purdue (19-4, 8-4 Big Ten) and Penn State (18-4) opened the fifth and final set tied at three, before two Purdue miscues gave the control to the Nittany Lions, 7-4. Purdue answered with three Atkinson kills to come within one at 12-11, and prompt a Penn State timeout. The teams traded the next thirteen points to tie the match at 18. Atkinson's 32nd kill of the match put the Boilermakers on the hill and just like Purdue's 2010 upset, Penn State's final hitting attempt sailed long clinching Purdue the 20-18 set and the national upset.
Penn State led the opening frame from start to finish. Powered by a .455 hitting clip and aided by nine Boilermaker errors, the Nittany Lions owned the set, 25-11.
In the second set, Purdue answered each of the Penn State's points over the first 42 points. With the frame tied 21-21, the Nittany Lions utilized a pair of Taylor Leath putaways to claim the set, 25-22, on a 4-1 run.
Much like the first set, Penn State jumped out to a 20-13 advantage, but a string of five serves from Otec brought it to a one-point gap. Down 21-20, Purdue took the lead off back-to-back stuffs, with the first one coming from an Atkinson-Johnson effort and the second coming from Cleveland. The Boilermakers maintained their lead and stole the set, 25-23, on kills from Atkinson and Newton.
The back-and-forth continued into the fourth set, but Purdue prevailed with a .302 hitting clip and 21 kills. Playing through five ties and four lead changes, the Boilermakers used seven kills from Newton and five from Atkinson to secure the set, 25-22.
The victory was Purdue's first upset since the Boilermakers defeated then-No. 10 Wisconsin, 3-0, last November. It also marked Penn State's first loss at home this season.
The Boilermakers return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday when they face off with Michigan State for the second time this season.