The Valparaiso University volleyball team opened play at the Cornell Invitational on Friday afternoon against St. John’s, but was unable to top their Big East opponent despite a strong offensive match from Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky), falling to the Red Storm 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-14).
St. John’s went on an 8-1 run to close the second set to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
How It Happened
- Valpo led by five points as the first set passed the midway point, and after St. John’s closed to within one point at 14-13, scored four of the next five points to pull ahead 18-14.
- The Red Storm came back, however, going on a 9-2 run to take a 23-20 lead. The Crusaders answered with back-to-back points, including a block from junior Kayla Currier (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and freshman Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi), but St. John’s scored the final two points of the set to take the opener.
- An 8-3 run by the Crusaders, which included three kills by Graboski, turned the second set in Valpo’s favor just past the halfway point and gave it a 20-17 lead. But St. John’s closed the frame on an 8-1 run to go ahead 2-0.
- Valpo enjoyed a narrow lead early in the third set, as the Crusaders led by a 5-4 score, before the Red Storm reeled off 12 of the next 15 points. Valpo would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- Valpo was limited to just 31 kills on .074 hitting, while St. John’s (6-2) posted 43 kills on .226 hitting over the three sets.
- Graboski led all players, finishing the match hitting at a .258 clip with 12 kills. The senior reached double figures in kills for the third time this year.
- Freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 27 assists.
- Freshman libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) tallied 14 digs to lead the Crusaders’ back-row play, while redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) posted 13 digs.
- Junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) was part of a team-best five blocks as the Crusaders totaled nine blocks as a squad. Cummings added four blocks as well, the highest single-match total of her young career.
Valpo (2-6) closes out action from Cornell on Saturday with a pair of contests. The Crusaders will face Binghamton at noon CT before finishing the tournament against the hosts at 6 p.m. CT. Live stats and video for both matches will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.