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The Sett, Week 1 - Purdue

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It took until 2021, but the 2020 volleyball season starts for the Badgers against the Boilermakers on Friday night.

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Semifinals Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

“Last” Year In Boilermakers Volleyball

In 2019, Purdue was part of the Big Ten’s middle class. They avoided any losses to a sub-.500 conference team, but only went 1-5 against the best four teams. That got them the final seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they defended their home court before they lost to Baylor.

Also, their coaching staff has been together for 18 years. Even more impressive: head coach Dave Shondell hasn’t fired his younger brother John Shondell just to prove a point. I’d do it. (Editor’s note: I know Rock’s younger brother and he’d make a terrible volleyball coach.)

Front Court

Purdue’s three all-conference nominations came from their front court. Grace Cleveland (first team) and Caitlyn Newton (second team) return as the main outside hitters. Both placed among the top in conference kills per set, and stayed in rotation often with triple-digit digs for each on the season. Cleveland also notched a block per set in conference play. Comparatively, Newton took more swings, but ended up with an error for every two kills.

First-team Big Ten Shavona Cuttino started between them, but as she moves on Jael Johnson will most likely take her playing time ahead of three freshman. The big question will be if she can replace Cuttino’s blocks, as Purdue was only behind Minnesota in conference blocks per set.

Back Court

Junior Hayley Bush averaged double-digit assists her first two years and figures to keep that streak alive. Her back row partners, libero Marissa Hornug and Jena Otec, got half of the team’s digs and also return. Otec was a serving fiend, racking up a Red Baron-esque 50 aces in 2019. Emma Terwilliger and Maddie Schermerhorn were the deeper parts of Purdue’s back line reserves.

Game Info

Elsewhere Around The Conference

Wisconsin plays the only ranked matchup this weekend because we’re still in a pandemic!

Michigan State heads to Minnesota, Ohio State hosts Maryland, Illinois is in Iowa City, Huskers are in Bloomington, and Northwestern hosts Rutgers. Honestly, the Big 10 schedule is pretty ho-hum for the first three weeks, as none of the four conference title challengers play each other until Valentine’s Day.