The Valparaiso University volleyball team concluded the 2018 home season on Saturday night at the ARC, dropping a four-set battle (25-17, 25-15, 19-25, 25-19) to Missouri Valley Conference leader Illinois State. The program celebrated its senior night on Saturday, honoring the five members of this year’s senior class.
How It Happened
- Illinois State led start-to-finish in the opening set, scoring the first three points and never relinquishing the outright lead. The Redbirds hit .393 in claiming the first set.
- Valpo held a number of slim leads in the early stages of the second set, the latest coming at 11-10 following a kill from senior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist). But Illinois State scored the next eight to take control and ended the set scoring 15 of the final 19 points to pull ahead 2-0.
- It was Valpo which took control of the third set in the early stages, gaining a lead it would not relinquish with four straight points after Illinois State claimed the first point. With Valpo leading 12-8, Illinois State scored three straight points to pull to within one at 12-11.
- But a solo block from Zaleski sparked a 6-0 run for Valpo – one which included another block and a kill for Zaleski, as well as two kills and two blocks from sophomore Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) – to push the lead to 18-11.
- Valpo grew its lead to as many as eight points in the third set (20-12) before one final push from the Redbirds cut the advantage to 22-18 and forced a Valpo timeout. Out of the stoppage, consecutive kills by freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) gave Valpo set point, and the Crusaders converted on their second chance to force a fourth set.
- It was a back-and-forth struggle to gain control of the fourth set, as the frame would eventually feature 12 ties and four lead changes. A four-point run which included a kill by Carlson and a block from Ketcham and Hart put Valpo ahead 10-8 and forced Illinois State to use a timeout.
- The Redbirds tied the set at 11-11, 13-13, and 15-15, but each time Valpo responded to keep them from taking the outright lead. A kill from Zaleski made it 16-15 Valpo, but this time Illinois State scored the next two to gain the lead.
- Senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) would come up with kills on two of the next three points to make it 18-18, but Illinois State ended the set and the match on a 7-1 run to stay atop The Valley.
Inside the Match
- Prior to the match, Valpo honored the five members of this year’s senior class – Carlson, Ketcham, Zaleski, Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and Kayla Currier (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East).
- The group of seniors has helped Valpo to 81 wins over the last four years, including a pair of 20-win campaigns. They helped guide the program to a berth in the Horizon League title match in 2015 as well.
- Zaleski led Valpo offensively on Saturday night, tallying 13 kills on .367 hitting.
- Carlson finished the night with a double-double, posting 10 kills on .242 hitting and 10 digs. She now owns 1,167 career kills and passed Kelly Schoenhoft on Saturday for eighth in program history in the category.
- Ketcham tallied 15 digs in the back row as she approaches 400 digs for the fourth time in her career.
- Sophomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) paced Valpo’s back-row effort with 18 digs, and in the process, moved into 10th in a single season in program history in digs, as she ended the night with 589 digs this year.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) tallied yet another double-double with 34 assists and 12 digs. She now sits just 40 assists away from Valpo’s single-season top-10.
Valpo (22-9, 9-7 MVC) closes out the regular season next weekend with a pair of road matches, starting with a 7 p.m. match Friday night at Missouri State.