The Valparaiso University volleyball team closed out the weekend of MVC action on a high note on Saturday evening at the ARC, putting together one of its best performances of the year in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-18) sweep of Evansville.
How It Happened
- After jumping out to early leads in all three sets Friday night, the Crusaders started off on the wrong foot Saturday, as Evansville tallied the first four points to open the match.
- Trailing approaching the midway point of the set 10-7, the Crusaders reeled off four straight points to take a brief 11-10 lead. Evansville briefly quelled the momentum with a point, but kills by senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) and juniors Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) gave Valpo a 14-11 advantage and forced a timeout from the Purple Aces.
- The stoppage didn’t slow the Crusaders, however, as they rattled off five more points in a row – capped by a block from Graboski and freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) – to close out a 12-1 run as the lead extended to 19-11. Valpo cruised from there to finish out the opener.
- Valpo limited the Purple Aces to just seven kills in the second set and took control with a slightly earlier run as it took a 2-0 lead in the match. The score was tied 8-8 before the Crusaders scored eight of the next nine to take control, and this time, Valpo put its foot down to end the set as it closed the frame on another 8-1 run.
- The Crusaders led start to finish in closing out the sweep in set three, scoring the first three points of the set. A five-point spurt early on pushed Valpo’s advantage to 11-5, and the Purple Aces would get no closer than two points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- Valpo dominated the Purple Aces across the board on Saturday night. The Crusaders held a 47-28 advantage in kills – its second-largest edge of the year in the category – and hit at a season-high .276 clip while Evansville hit just .100.
- The Crusaders also enjoyed a 68-56 advantage in digs, increasing its national-best digs average.
- The victory was Valpo’s first sweep of the season where it held its opponent under 20 points in all three sets.
- Graboski led the way offensively as she continued to stand out for the Crusaders, tallying a match-high 12 kills while hitting .526. It was the first time this season the senior has hit at least .500, and marked the second-highest hitting percentage of her career when recording at least 10 kills.
- Through eight MVC matches, Graboski is averaged 3.79 kills/set on .370 hitting, as well as 1.07 blocks/set. The senior is now just two blocks and 21 kills away from Valpo’s respective all-time top-10s in the categories.
- Ketcham finished just behind Graboski in the kills column, totaling 11 terminations on .265 hitting. The junior also picked up a match-best 17 digs and now owns 1,254 career digs – just 54 shy of Valpo’s top-10 career chart.
- Carlson did not commit an attack error while hitting .421 with eight kills, and freshman Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered a season-high eight kills as well.
- Anderson recorded 35 assists and 12 digs to finish with a double-double in the victory, while fellow rookie Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) totaled 16 digs from her libero position.
- After registering just 15 total digs in the first 15 matches of her Valpo career, freshman Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) finished with 10 digs in Saturday night’s win.
Valpo (10-10, 3-5 MVC) steps out of conference action for its third match at the ARC in a five-day span on Tuesday evening as the Crusaders host Fort Wayne. First serve is slated for 6 p.m., and the match can be heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso), with links for the live audio and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.