The Valparaiso University volleyball team kicked off the Jackrabbits Invitational from Brookings, S.D. on Friday, falling 3-1 to CSU Bakersfield (27-29, 25-23, 25-18, 25-22) and 3-0 to Northern Arizona (25-19, 25-22, 25-19). In the third set of the opener against CSU Bakersfield, redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) surpassed the 1,000-dig milestone for her career.
How It Happened – CSU Bakersfield
- Valpo held off a number of set point chances from the Roadrunners to claim an opening set which featured 17 ties and eight lead changes. CSUB turned a 21-19 Crusader lead into a 24-22 deficit with a 5-1 spurt, but a Ketcham kill and a block by juniors Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) forced extra points at 24-all.
- CSUB earned three more set point opportunities with kills, but each time the Crusaders responded, as terminations from freshman Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi), Carlson and senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) kept the set alive.
- Finally, tied at 27-27, a kill from Ketcham gave Valpo its first chance to take the opener, and the Crusaders took full advantage thanks to a kill by Graboski to go up 1-0.
- CSUB looked to run away with the second set early, taking a quick 7-1 lead, but the Crusaders stormed back with an 11-2 spurt – featuring kills from five different players – to take a 12-9 advantage. The Roadrunners answered with three straight points as the frame settled into another back-and-forth affair – this one featuring 12 ties and six lead changes.
- A kill from freshman Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) gave Valpo a late 22-21 advantage, but CSUB scored four of the set’s final five points to even the match at one set apiece.
- Valpo went ahead quickly in the third set, 10-5, but couldn’t maintain the momentum. The Roadrunners out-scored the Crusaders the rest of the way, 20-8, to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- It looked like CSUB had the match well in hand in the fourth set, as the Roadrunners led 17-10. But Valpo put together another big run, scoring six straight points to make it a contest, and the Crusaders eventually were able to even the frame at 21-21 thanks to a kill from Bulmahn. Valpo was unable to complete the rally and force a fifth set, however, as the Roadrunners went on a 4-1 spurt to close out the set and the match.
How It Happened – Northern Arizona
- The Crusaders were unable to slow down the NAU attack in the opening set, as the Lumberjacks hit .333 with just one attack error in the first frame. Valpo did own a 16-15 lead shortly past the midway point of the set, and later trailed just 19-18, but NAU scored six of the set’s final seven points.
- NAU broke out to a quick lead in the second set, scoring the first five points, but the Crusaders rallied back and actually led as the set passed the halfway mark. Valpo was still within striking distance late, tying the set at 18-all and three subsequent times moving to within one point of NAU – the latest at 22-21 – but again the Lumberjacks closed strong, scoring three of the last four points to go up two sets to none.
- The Lumberjacks gained control early in the third set, going on a five-point spurt to take a 9-4 lead, and the Crusaders could get no closer than two points the rest of the way.
Inside the Matches
- Ketcham reached the 1,000-dig milestone midway through the third set of the opener as part of a 12-dig effort. For the redshirt junior, who led the Horizon League in digs by non-liberos in each of her first two seasons, it took just 80 matches to reach four figures in the category.
- Graboski recorded one of the top offensive efforts of her career against CSU Bakersfield, hitting at a .423 clip with a team-best 14 kills.
- Freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) continued to rack up the digs at libero, tallying 28 in the opener versus CSUB and adding 28 more in the nightcap against NAU.
- Cookerly was one of four Crusaders to reach double figures in digs in the opener, as Ketcham, Carlson [11 digs] and sophomore Alana Brown (Napa, Calif./Vintage) [10 digs] joined Cookerly in double digits. Brown’s 10 digs were the second-most of her Crusader career.
- Carlson tallied 18 digs in the matchup with NAU, while Ketcham and freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) chipped in 10 apiece.
- Anderson dished out 43 assists against CSUB and finished with a double-double versus Northern Arizona, tallying 32 assists to go with her 10 digs.
- Valpo was limited to just .143 hitting in the opener against CSUB, while the Roadrunners hit .190 with 59 kills – led by an impressive 22-kill effort on .559 hitting from Haylee Roberts.
- NAU hit .237 in the nightcap to the Crusaders’ .169 clip and tallied 11 service aces to Valpo’s one.
Valpo (1-4) looks to close the weekend on a winning note Saturday morning as the Crusaders face host South Dakota State. First serve is slated for 10:30 a.m., with live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.