The Valparaiso University volleyball team battled host Air Force nip-and-tuck through the first three sets of its opener Friday at the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic, taking two of the three frames, and then pulled away late in set four to earn the 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19) victory.
How It Happened
- Air Force raced out to an early 8-2 lead in the first set, but Valpo stormed back and claimed its first lead just past the midway point at 13-12.
- A 5-1 Valpo run gave the Brown and Gold a 21-18 advantage before the Falcons battled back to tie the first set at 23-all. A kill from senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) gave Valpo set point, and an Air Force error ended the opening frame in the visitors’ favor.
- Air Force led nearly start to finish in the second set and looked to have the frame under control with a 22-16 advantage. Senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) had five kills during a 7-2 spurt for Valpo, however, as the Brown and Gold held off one set point for Air Force and closed within 24-23. But the Falcons converted their second set point chance to even the match at one set apiece.
- Valpo never trailed in the third set, but after enjoying a five-point lead early, the Crusaders saw their advantage sliced to nothing as Air Force pulled into a 20-20 tie. Valpo came back with four of the next five points to earn three set point chances at 24-21, however, and on the third attempt, senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) delivered a kill to give Valpo the swing set.
- After each of the first three sets went right down to the wire, Valpo would claim the decisive frame in less dramatic fashion. The Brown and Gold took the lead for good with an early four-point spurt, and with the advantage just 16-14, Valpo scored five of the next six points and Air Force would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- Valpo heads into Saturday poised to challenge for its second consecutive in-season tournament title and its fourth in the last five tourneys.
- In each of this season’s first three tournaments, Valpo has defeated the tournament host in four sets.
- Ketcham led the way all around for Valpo on Friday, posting 17 kills on .277 hitting and 24 digs in the win. The senior set a new season high for digs and matched her season best in the kills column.
- Ketcham has now totaled 1,550 career digs, leapfrogging both Lori Barton and Karen Kulick on Valpo’s all-time chart in the category to move into sixth position in program history.
- Fellow senior Carlson also set a season best for kills, posting 13 terminations.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) recorded her team-best fifth double-double of the year with 48 assists and 11 digs, while fellow sophomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) registered 19 digs.
- Freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) saw some extended action and tallied a season-best seven kills on .500 hitting.
- Junior Alana Brown (Napa, Calif./Vintage) picked up a trio of service aces to set a new career high.
Valpo (7-2) closes out action from Air Force with a pair of matches against California squads on Saturday. The Brown and Gold take on CSU Bakersfield at 11 a.m. CT before finishing tournament play versus Cal Baptist at 4 p.m.