Valparaiso University volleyball senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) reached 1,000 career kills Monday evening as part of a stellar all-around outing, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Crusaders to come out victors at Southern Illinois, as the host Salukis downed Valpo, 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 16-25, 26-24).
How It Happened
- Despite not committing an attack error in the opening set and hitting at a .303 clip, Valpo dropped the opener as SIU hit .310 with 19 kills. The Crusaders fell behind early, and despite closing to within two points on a pair of occasions late, could not get over the hump.
- Valpo jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the second set on the back of a trio of blocks, and still led by five points at 10-5. But SIU went on a 12-3 run to take control, and the Crusaders again could get no closer than two points late.
- A 7-0 run midway through the third set, which included two kills and a solo block from Graboski, turned a one-point deficit into a 17-11 advantage for the Crusaders. SIU closed to within three points at 18-15 before Valpo ended the set on a 7-1 spurt, capped by a back-row kill from Graboski for her 1,000th career termination.
- The Crusaders looked to force a fifth set with a big push midway through the fourth frame, rattling off eight straight points – five of which came on kills from Graboski – to go ahead 14-8. But SIU crawled back into the set, and with a 5-0 run, took the lead at 21-19.
- Twice, Graboski kills were answered by kills by SIU as the Salukis maintained a two-point lead. But then redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) recorded consecutive kills – the second coming off an overpass – to tie the frame at 23-all.
- An SIU kill gave it match point at 24-23 before Ketcham registered yet another kill to force extra points. SIU came out with another kill to earn a second chance at match point, and following an extended rally, the Salukis ended the match with another kill.
Inside the Match
- Graboski reached the 1,000-kill milestone for her career with her 12th kill of the match, which ended up closing out the third set.
- Graboski is the first Crusader to reach 1,000 career kills since Emily Campbell did so in 2015. The senior now sits just 88 kills shy of cracking Valpo’s all-time top-10 in the category.
- Graboski dominated on both sides of the ball Monday evening, finishing with a season-best 21 kills – just three off her career high – on .475 hitting as she terminated on more than half her swings.
- The senior also led the way for the Crusaders on the block, as she was in on eight of Valpo’s 11 team blocks. Graboski’s eight rejections also were a season high.
- Ketcham also finished in double figures in kills, hitting .256 with 12 kills, and led the Crusaders with 18 digs to finish with her third double-double of the season.
- Freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 38 assists and also was part of a season-best five blocks.
- Freshman Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) enjoyed a second consecutive strong match, tying her season high with seven kills and doing so with just 11 swings, hitting .545.
- The Crusaders committed just 12 attack errors over the four sets, swinging at a .269 clip for the match, but SIU out-killed Valpo 67-51 and hit .306 on its side of the net.
- Valpo tallied just 52 digs over Monday’s four sets, bringing down its national-best average in the category, but did reach double figures in blocks for the seventh time this year.
Valpo (7-8, 0-3 MVC) takes on its travel partner in Loyola Sunday afternoon on the road to continue its four-match road swing. First serve for the Crusaders will come at 2 p.m.