The Valparaiso University volleyball team will carry a two-match winning streak into next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as Valpo ended the regular season Saturday night with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-21) win at Southern Illinois. Valpo opens the tournament Thursday evening against host Missouri State at 7:30 p.m.
How It Happened
- The first set featured 11 ties and five lead changes, but in the end, SIU’s .295 hitting percentage would carry the Salukis to the opening-frame win. Valpo led by one at 15-14 before a 5-0 SIU run gave it the lead for good, despite rallies that brought Valpo back within one twice at 19-18 and 22-21.
- Valpo led start to finish in the second set. A 5-1 start was a harbinger of things to come in the first two-thirds of the set, as Valpo ran off to a 16-4 lead.
- The lead was still 10 at 23-13 before three straight SIU points, and after a kill from Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) gave Valpo set point at 24-16, the Salukis scored three more in a row. But Valpo converted its fourth chance, going again to McCarthy for the termination to even the match at a set apiece.
- The third set played out much like the second, right from the start. SIU scored the first point before Valpo reeled off eight of the next nine – including three kills from senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) – to go ahead 8-2. The lead eventually reached double figures at 19-9 on a McCarthy block.
- SIU would score six of the next seven points to move within 20-15, but Valpo came back with three straight, the last two coming on consecutive kills from sophomore Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) to make it 23-15.
- The Salukis put together one final run, scoring the next six points to move within two at 23-21, but a kill from senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) snapped the string of Saluki points and gave Valpo set point. An SIU attack error closed out the third frame in Valpo’s favor.
- Valpo led for nearly the entire fourth set, but again SIU rallied late, this time completely erasing a deficit with a 5-0 run to tie the set at 20-20.
- A service error gave Valpo the serve with a 21-20 lead, and kills from freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and Ketcham made it a 23-20 advantage. A Valpo service error cut the lead to two, but Hart came back with another kill to advance to match point, and Ketcham closed out the match with her 19th kill of the contest.
Inside the Match
- Saturday’s win gives Valpo 24 victories to end the regular season – the eighth time under head coach Carin Avery that the Crusaders have won 24 or more matches heading into the conference tournament.
- The win over the Salukis gave Valpo a 6-3 record in road MVC matches this season.
- Valpo held a massive 67-38 advantage in kills on Saturday and held the Salukis to .095 hitting. In fact, over the final three sets, SIU hit just .018 with 23 kills.
- Leading the way on the attack for Valpo was Ketcham, who set a season high with a match-best 19 kills while hitting at a .241 clip. Ketcham now owns 1,178 career kills, moving into ninth place in program history on Saturday.
- The senior also racked up 22 digs for yet another double-double. She is nearing Sara Silcox for fourth position in program history in career digs, as Ketcham’s 1,875 digs are just 12 shy of Silcox’s career total.
- Hart closed out easily her most productive weekend of the season as she hit .276 with 14 kills, just one shy of her career high set last night, and a team-high four blocks. After entering the final weekend of the regular season with a season best of seven kills, the freshman doubled that in both of Valpo’s wins.
- McCarthy made it three Valpo players in double figures with 12 kills on .280 hitting.
- Carlson tallied just seven kills on Saturday, but still moved into seventh place in program history with 1,193 career kills – just two shy of sixth position.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) matched her career high with 57 assists in the win, adding three aces and 10 digs as well.
- Anderson is rapidly moving up Valpo’s single-season assists chart, as with 1,335 assists on the year, she currently ranks ninth. But the sophomore is just one shy of eighth position, and looking further up the chart, just 28 assists away from sixth.
- Anderson also needs just 17 more assists to move up two spots on Valpo’s career assists ranking into eighth place.
- Sophomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led Valpo’s back-row effort in limiting SIU to .095 hitting for the match, racking up a match-high 29 digs to tie her season best. She now ranks eighth in a single season in program history with 632 digs.
Valpo (24-9, 11-7 MVC) kicks off the MVC Tournament on Thursday evening as the fourth seed, taking on fifth-seeded Missouri State – which secured the five-seed with a sweep of Loyola Saturday night – at 7:30 p.m. in Springfield. It marks the second straight year that Valpo has faced the tournament host in the opening round.
Every match of the MVC Tournament can be seen live on ESPN+, with live stats available for each tournament match as well.