The Valparaiso University volleyball team extended its non-conference winning streak to six consecutive matches on Tuesday evening at the ARC, earning its second straight sweep in a 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-22) victory over Fort Wayne.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to an early lead in set one on Tuesday, thanks in in part to three quick kills from redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian). The Crusaders led 11-8 before the Mastodons reeled off six straight points to go ahead 14-11.
- After a pair of sideouts each way, the Crusaders evened the score with three straight kills – one from junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and two by freshman Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon). After a Fort Wayne kill, junior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) tallied back-to-back kills and then a block as Valpo pulled out to a 19-17 lead.
- The Mastodons scored the next two points to tie the set at 19-all, but another Bronner kill and two Fort Wayne errors gave Valpo a 22-19 advantage. The Crusaders then held off one final Fort Wayne push, as after the Mastodons pulled within 22-21, junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) and senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) picked up consecutive kills. Eventually, a kill by Ketcham closed out the opener in the Crusaders’ favor.
- Valpo led early in the second set, 5-4, but the Mastodons put together an 8-1 run to pull ahead 12-6. The Crusaders answered with four straight points – including back-to-back kills off overpasses by Bronner – to stay within striking distance.
- Trailing 15-13, Valpo scored five of the next six points to take the lead for good. Fort Wayne would pull within one on three occasions, the latest coming at 20-19 before Valpo ended the frame on a 5-1 spurt to take a 2-0 lead into the in-game break.
- Fort Wayne led throughout the first half and past the midway point of the third set, eventually extending its lead to five points at 17-12. A kill from Ketcham started a four-point Crusader run as Valpo closed back within one point.
- Then, trailing 19-17, the Crusaders rattled off the next five points – including kills from Bronner, Graboski and Zaleski and a service ace by freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) – to go ahead for good. The Mastodons pulled within one point twice down the stretch, but leading 23-22, Valpo took advantage of back-to-back Fort Wayne attack errors to close out the sweep.
Inside the Match
- With a pair of blocks on Tuesday, Graboski moved into a tie for 10th place in program history with 325 career blocks. She also now owns 1,083 career kills – just 14 terminations away from the Crusaders’ all-time top-10 in that category.
- Zaleski paced Valpo in the kills category for the first time in her career, recording 10 kills. It was a balanced offensive attack as the Crusaders tallied 43 total kills, with Ketcham adding eight kills and Carlson, Graboski and Bronner chipping in seven apiece. Bronner hit at a .500 clip as well, as she needed just 14 swings.
- Freshman setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) finished with her 13th double-double of the season, handing out 33 assists and posting 15 digs. Anderson has racked up 783 assists during her rookie season to date, matching the most by a freshman setter in head coach Carin Avery’s tenure.
- The Crusaders increased their nation’s best digs average on Tuesday as they totaled 71 digs over the three sets. Cookerly paced all players with 18 digs and Carlson recorded 14 to go with Anderson’s aforementioned 15 digs.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive non-conference matchups dating back to Sept. 8 of this season. The Crusaders have just one non-conference contest remaining this season (Nov. 1, at Chicago State).
Valpo (11-10) makes its first MVC trip to Iowa this weekend for a pair of road contests. The Crusaders kick off the trip at Drake Friday night at 7 p.m. in a match which can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links for the live coverage will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.