The regular season came to a close Saturday evening in Cedar Falls, Iowa for the Valpo volleyball team, as it fell in straight sets (25-20, 25-13, 25-11) to MVC regular season champion UNI. Valpo will return immediately to Cedar Falls next week for the MVC Tournament, as fifth-seeded Valpo will take on fourth-seeded Bradley on Thursday evening at 5 p.m.
How It Happened
- UNI opened the match with five consecutive points, but Valpo battled back, closing the gap to three for the first time at 7-4 on a solo block from junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) and to two for the first time at 8-6 on a kill by sophomore Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East).
- Valpo pulled to within one at 13-12 thanks to a service ace from sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne), and then eventually tied the set at 15-15 on a UNI attack error.
- But the Panthers responded with three straight points, and then after a trading of points, UNI strung together three more in a row to pull out ahead, 22-17. Valpo would get no closer than four points the rest of the way.
- Valpo scored the first point of set two before UNI went on a 7-1 run. The Brown and Gold scored three of the next four to make it 8-5, but the Panthers reeled off five in a row to go up by eight points, and Valpo could not cut the deficit to less than five points the rest of the way.
- UNI took the lead for good early in the third set with a three-point spurt, and then with the score 6-4, the Panthers scored nine in a row to take control.
Inside the Match
- The sweep was Valpo’s first three-set loss in the last nine matches, as it had not been swept since Oct. 25 against Loyola.
- The loss concludes Valpo’s MVC slate with an 8-10 record. Valpo placed fifth in the final regular season standings, one game up on Evansville and Missouri State, after being projected seventh in the preseason.
- Hart paced Valpo on Saturday with nine kills on .389 hitting and also picked up a match-best four blocks.
- Junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) added seven kills, while junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) tied for match-high honors with 12 digs.
Valpo (13-19, 8-10 MVC) opens up the MVC Tournament on Thanksgiving evening at 5 p.m. against Bradley. The two squads split the regular season series, with each winning in straight sets on their respective home court. All the action from the MVC Tournament can be seen live on ESPN+.