Six sets was all it took for the Valparaiso University volleyball team to come out with two victories on Friday during the first day of action at Central Michigan’s Chippewa Invitational, as Valpo swept DePaul (25-7, 25-10, 25-19) in the tournament opener Friday morning before coming back with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 26-24) win over La Salle in the afternoon. Senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) became just the eighth player in program history to hit the 1,500-career dig milestone, doing so late in the morning win over the Blue Demons.
How It Happened – DePaul
- The opening set was all Valpo, as it scored the first three points of the frame and never looked back. Leading 7-4, Valpo scored 15 of the next 16 points to ease to the first-set win. The Brown and Gold did not commit an attack error in the set, hitting .351, while limiting DePaul to -.089 hitting.
- The second frame proved to be more of the same, as Valpo jumped out to an 8-2 lead and cruised to the win. Valpo’s defense again held DePaul to a negative hitting percentage, this time -.111.
- It looked to be another ho-hum set in the third, with the lead stretching to 13-4 just past the midway point of the frame. DePaul would score the next four points to close within five, but Valpo held off the Blue Demons from there, as the lead never dropped below four points in completing the sweep.
How It Happened – La Salle
- After an easy morning match, Valpo found itself on the back foot for the first time Friday in the opening set against the Explorers, trailing 9-4 early on. Valpo bounced back with a 10-2 run, however, to go ahead 14-11.
- La Salle would pull into a tie three times later in the set, the latest coming at 19-all, but a kill from senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) sparked a three-point spurt which kept the Explorers at bay. Valpo would eventually convert on its first set point chance at 24-22 thanks to a La Salle attack error to take the opener.
- Much like the morning match, Valpo put together a big run early in the second set to take control. The lead was just 6-5 before runs on the serves of sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) and Ketcham combined for an 11-2 spurt and a 17-7 lead. The Explorers got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
- The final set of the day proved to be the most challenging for Valpo, as it faced 12 ties and five lead changes. The Brown and Gold attempted to pull away approaching the late stages, pushing its lead to 20-15, but a 7-1 run from La Salle gave the Explorers a 22-21 lead.
- The teams traded sideouts the next four points, giving La Salle the serve and a set point chance at 24-23. But senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) came up with a kill to force extra points, and Ketcham then registered a kill of her own to give Valpo match point at 25-24. One chance was all it needed, as a kill from sophomore Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) closed Valpo’s second sweep of the day.
Inside the Matches
- Ketcham reached the 1,500-career dig milestone with her ninth dig in the morning sweep of DePaul. She currently ranks eighth in program history in career digs, and is just over 100 digs away from becoming Valpo’s highest-ranking non-libero in the category.
- Valpo’s pair of Friday wins put it in position to claim its 25th in-season tournament title in the last 17 years on Saturday when it faces the host Chippewas.
- Valpo was solid offensively through Friday’s two matches, committing just 21 combined attack errors over the two matches.
- It was a team effort on offense in the sweep of DePaul, as no Valpo player tallied more than eight kills (Carlson) while the team hit at a .295 clip. Ketcham hit .389 with seven kills while not committing an attack error, and senior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) tallied seven kills as well.
- Sophomore Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) set a new career best with eight blocks despite only playing the first two sets, tied for the third-most blocks in a three-set match in the 25-point era. Ketcham tied her career high with four blocks as well.
- Sohpomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) tallied a team-high 14 digs in the sweep of the Blue Demons, while Anderson narrowly missed a double-double with 30 assists and nine digs.
- Bronner led the way for Valpo in the win over La Salle, hitting .562 with 11 kills as she took just 16 swings. The senior also paced the Brown and Gold with five blocks.
- Ketcham added nine kills and 12 digs, while freshman Jillian Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) saw action in two of the three sets and totaled five kills and six digs.
- Cookerly again paced Valpo in the back with 14 digs. Anderson recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 32 assists and 12 digs.
Thoughts From Coach Avery
“Today was a great day of volleyball for us. We had a lot more people involved offensively than last weekend, and I thought our serve and pass game was great. We are looking forward to competing one more time tomorrow.”
Valpo (5-1) looks for the tournament title on Saturday afternoon as it takes on the host Chippewas at 2:30 p.m. CT.