The Valpo volleyball team rebounded from a close loss on Sunday with a strong performance Monday to earn a series split with Southern Illinois at the ARC, downing the Salukis by a 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15) final. Senior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) posted the third-most digs by a Valpo player in a four-set match in the 25-point era, and in the process, moved up both the Valpo and the MVC career digs charts.
How It Happened
- Valpo never led in the first set as the Salukis took the opener, as the offense for the Brown and Gold was limited to just seven kills. Valpo did close to within one point at 16-15, and later in the frame was within two at 22-20, but SIU scored the final three points to finish out the first set.
- The second set proved to be all Valpo, as it scored six of the first eight points and never trailed. SIU got no closer than four points past the halfway point of the frame as the match evened up at one set apiece.
- SIU scored the first point of the third set, but that would be its lone lead, as Valpo scored the next four to take the lead for good.
- It proved to be a bit tougher for the Brown and Gold to claim the third frame, however. Leading 17-11, the result looked like it was a foregone conclusion, but SIU scored six of the next seven points to close to within 18-17.
- The lead was still just two points at 21-19 before Valpo reeled off four straight points to close the set in its favor. Freshman Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered a kill to give Valpo set point, and it converted on its first opportunity thanks to a kill by sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian).
- SIU held the early advantage in set four and held a 10-7 lead following a Valpo attack error. But it was at that point that Valpo flipped the momentum 180 degrees.
- The run started with a kill by sophomore Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), the first of two terminations for the sophomore during what proved to be an 8-0 run. Junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) notched two kills during the run as well, while Cookerly tallied a pair of service aces.
- A service error briefly quashed the momentum, but another kill from Hart returned the serve to Valpo and the junior then combined on back-to-back blocks — first with junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and then with Bulmahn — as part of a five-point spurt. In all, it proved to be a 13-1 run which flipped a 10-7 deficit into a 20-11 lead.
- From there, the result was academic, and Valpo closed out the win courtesy of a kill by senior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon).
Inside the Match
- The victory over the Salukis snapped a three-match losing streak for the Brown and Gold.
- Cookerly continued her standout season in the back row with 32 digs, leading all players in the category for the sixth straight match. She surpassed 30 digs for the seventh time in her career and did so in back-to-back matches for the first time in a Valpo uniform.
- Impressively, 14 of Cookerly’s 32 digs were converted immediately into kills. She also received 18 serves without a service reception error, 10 of which resulted in first-ball kills.
- Cookerly now owns 2,266 career digs, and like she has done seemingly every time out this year, moved up multiple charts in the category on Monday. She surpassed former Valpo standout Morganne Longoria for third place in program history in career digs, and sits just 43 digs shy of Brittany Malicoat for second position.
- Meanwhile, Cookerly leapfrogged Bradley’s Yavianliz Rosado for sixth place in MVC history in career digs and currently is just 57 away from cracking the Valley’s all-time top-five in the category.
- Jaclyn Bulmahn and Hart both continued their respective strong seasons on the attack, sharing match-high honors with 14 kills apiece. Hart didn’t commit a single attack error while hitting at a .519 clip. The junior reached double figures in kills for the fifth consecutive match and was just one shy of her career high.
- Meanwhile, Bulmahn hit .312 — her fourth consecutive match hitting .300 or better. The senior has led Valpo in the kills category in all four of those outings.
- After notching just six kills over six sets in Valpo’s first six matches, Boyer was called upon Monday and came through with eight kills.
- Victoria Bulmahn dished out 41 assists and tallied 17 digs, second-most of any player in the match.
- Ravotto added 13 digs while Grant chipped in 10 digs as well as Valpo recorded 89 team digs in Monday’s victory.
- Beyond her offense, Hart also paced the defensive effort at the net as she was in on six of Valpo’s nine team blocks.
- Valpo’s defense limited SIU to .120 hitting on Monday after the Salukis had hit at a .255 clip in Sunday’s five-set affair.
Valpo (3-4, 2-4 MVC) steps out of conference play for the second and final time this year when it heads to Notre Dame Thursday. First serve is slated for noon CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra.