It’s not that Purdue will have a completely new look in 2019.
After all, the Boilermakers graduated just three seniors. One barely played, another was libero Brooke Peters, and the other, well, she carried the load.
Sherridan Atkinson had 546 kills, more than 200 more than her closest teammate, and the 6-foot-5 right side got 30 percent of the sets.
“She bailed us out of some rallies, that’s for sure,” coach Dave Shondell said with a smile.
Six freshmen join six sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. The freshman class was ranked No. 7 nationally by VolleyballMag.com.
“I think we’re going to be OK,” Shondell said.
One of those sophomores, Grace Cleveland, will have to step up.
“I think she’s going to be a really, really great player for us,” Shondell said. “We’ll move her to the right side and fill that gap that Sherridan left. We’ve got a couple of freshmen who can fill a left-side spot for us.”
Cleveland, a 6-3 product of Bloomington, Illinois, had 306 kills last season (2.35/set) and 100 blocks (30 solo).
Caitlyn Newton, a 6-1 junior from Terre Haute, Indiana, had 330 kills (2.54/set), and 48 blocks (16 solo).
Two middles return, Shavona Cuttino, a senior from Indianapolis, and Blake Mohler. a senior from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Cuttino played in half the sets and averaged 1.12 kills and had 51 blocks. Mohler had 316 kills (2.43/set), and led with 140 blocks (20 solo).
That big freshman class includes a setter, 6-2 Megan Renner; two defensive specialists, Ava Torrence and Maddie Schermerhorn; and three outsides, Emma Ellis, Madeline Koch, and Maddy Chinn.
“We think Emma Ellis and Maddie Koch will fight for that left-side spot,” Shondell said. “Maybe Maddy Chinn. But everything else is pretty much intact.”
The setter is sophomore Hayley Bush, a product of Union, Kentucky, who averaged 10.89 assists per set.
“She’s a real fireball,” Shondell said. “Our setting is really good.”
The roster also three more defensive specialists.
“Our ball control is all back except for Brooke Peters. And our ball control has been kind of our liability if you look at our history,” Shondell said. “We had a six-rotation player we recruited, Alexa Smith, who we thought was going to be on the floor for four years. After one semester, she went back home (and played at Colorado).”
And libero Natalie Haben saw her career end in injury in 2016.
“So two kids that were gonna be on the floor passing and playing defense for us were gone and we had to fill that with young kids. Now those young kids are old and so I think we’re gonna be OK passing and ball control.”
Last season, Purdue finished 24-9, 12-8 in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers beat ETSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kentucky. Among Purdue’s early season matches is another trip to Kentucky.
The Boilers open up at home September 1 against Ohio and Shondell’s alma mater, Ball State.