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Gold and Black Illustrated Vol28, Digital1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1 73 group, it led to inconsistency in the second half of the Big Ten slate. Purdue started the year strong, winning 10 of 11 in the non-conference season, but then tapered off in the Big Ten; it rebounded late, beating Iowa State in the NCAA before falling to the Tigers. The Boilermakers finished the season 19-14, including 8-12 in the always-tough Big Ten. But the roster saw significant offseason additions. Shondell bolstered his roster by adding four freshmen — outside hitter Caitlyn Newton will be hard to keep off the floor, even though Purdue has veterans on the front row — and a transfer, Erin Williams, a middle blocker from Loyola Marymount. "There was no depth," Cuttino said of last season. "Now, if we need a change, then we can make that change." Shondell estimated he has as many as 10 he would feel comfortable putting on the floor, a luxury if he wants to try to change up the on-court chemistry. But the Boiler- makers will frequently look toward their front-line play- ers. And they've got good ones. Cuttino, a left-side hitter, is one of the best in the Big Ten, voted to the preseason All-Big Ten team and a unan- imous selection last season. The powerful, athletic 6-foot- 4 Indianapolis native moved to the outside after playing her first two seasons as a blocker, and blossomed in the second half of the year. "She's phenomenal," said Evans, a fifth-year senior setter. "She's one of the most athletic people we've ever had since Dave and John (Shondell) have been here and in the history of Purdue. She's a beast, and it's so fun to play with her." And Cuttino has offensive help. Unlike a couple years ago, when opponents knew the ball was going to Annie Drews as frequently as possible, Evans has options. Cut- tino is No. 1, but fellow left-side Stahl is solid as well, and has the versatility to stay on the floor for all six rotations, and equally strong is 6-6 right-side hitter Sherridan At- kinson. Shondell says the former transfer played at an All- Big Ten level the last 10 matches last year, getting fully back in a groove after a nasty ankle injury at Long Beach, her previous school, had set her back. And then there's Newton, a 6-1 rookie from Terre Haute who might be even better than her No. 59 national prospect ranking suggests. "She just hits it a ton," Dave Shondell said. "She was one of the most underrated recruits that we've ever got- ten here at Purdue. She's really good. She will be very difficult to keep off the floor. But we didn't have that op- tion last year. It was like I was trying to be a psychiatrist last year most of the time to try to get people to snap out of it and get better because we didn't have anywhere we could go. "Now, we have somewhere to go. So the best form of motivation is going to be sitting somebody down and bringing somebody (else) in. We have that (depth) in about every area." The backcourt, too. Purdue will need to find an every- day libero, and that could be junior Brooke Peters, who started five games there after Natalie Haben's leg injury, or Damler. Freshmen Jena Otec and Julianna Reisinger add needed depth on the backline. One area of note is at middle blocker, where Purdue has solid athletic players in returnees Blake Mohler, Shavona Cuttino and Williams, the transfer. They do happen, how- ever, to be shorter than ideal for their defensive-minded blocking positions. Mohler and Cuttino are listed at 6-2. Williams only 5-11. "But they're also quick and athletic," Shondell said. "Offensively, they'll be good. The issue is going to be stopping people. We're going to get better at blocking out Purdue On Aug. 22, Dave Shondell signed a contract extension that will keep him on the sidelines at Purdue through the 2022 season. In 14 years, he's taken the Boilermakers to 11 NCAA Tournaments, including two Elite Eights.

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