A strong all-around team effort lifted the Valpo volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-15, 25-18, 24-26, 25-19) victory on the road in Des Moines, Iowa at Drake in MVC action on Sunday. The first match of the back-to-back saw the Brown and Gold tally 106 digs, one of the best efforts in a four-set match in program history.
How It Happened
- It might have been six days since Valpo’s last match, but the start of Sunday’s contest looked a lot like the end of last Monday’s, as for the third consecutive set, Valpo opened with a big run. This one, on the serve of sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), consisted of five consecutive points — including an ace by Ravotto and two kills from senior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) — to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
- The result of the opener was never in doubt from there, as Drake never got any closer than three points. The lead was at least six points for the entire second half of the set as Valpo hit .317 in winning the opening frame.
- The big run in the second set came early on the serve of senior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton). Valpo reeled off eight consecutive points — three of which came courtesy of McCarthy service aces and two on kills from junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) — to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 10-4 lead.
- Just like the opener, after the big spurt, it was only a matter of time before Valpo took the set win to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Another stellar offensive performance — 19 kills on .350 hitting — helped the Brown and Gold carry the two-set lead into the in-match break.
- Once again, Valpo jumped on top early in the third set, getting out to a quick 6-2 lead. But this time, the Bulldogs responded, putting together a 6-0 run midway through the frame to pull ahead 14-13.
- Drake led 21-18 later in the set before a quick three-point spurt from Valpo evened things up at 21 apiece. Valpo was never able to gain the lead in the late stages of the set, however, as the teams traded sideouts for seven straight points before the Bulldogs got a kill to send the match to a fourth set.
- It was a struggle between the two squads to gain control of the fourth set, a frame which featured 11 tie scores — the last of which came at 15-15 as Drake scored back-to-back points following the media timeout.
- Valpo would not let the Bulldogs take the lead, however, and the Brown and Gold ended the match with a 10-4 stretch that featured kills from four different players, blocks by three different players and a service ace. Sophomore Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) eventually converted with a kill on Valpo’s third match point opportunity to close out the win.
Inside the Match
- It was a balanced effort for Valpo on Sunday on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
- Defensively, Valpo tallied 106 digs in the victory — tied for third-most in a four-set match by the program in the 25-point era and fourth-most in a four-set match in D-I volleyball this year. The Brown and Gold out-dug Drake 106-79 for the match.
- Six different players contributed with double digits in the digs category to get Valpo to the 106-dig mark, led by junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne), who posted a career-best 25 digs. Grant also received 40 serves without committing a serve reception error.
- Freshman setter Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) also surpassed her previous best with 21 digs, going over 20 digs for the first time in the Valpo uniform.
- Ravotto registered 18 digs as she played libero for the first time in her Valpo career, as the team played Sunday without normal libero Rylee Cookerly.
- Senior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) picked up 11 digs, while Boyer and senior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) notched 10 digs apiece. Boyer matched her career best in the category.
- On the offensive side, four Valpo players hit double figures as Valpo tallied 23 more kills (65-42) in the win. Leading the way was Jaclyn Bulmahn for the sixth time this season, as she recorded 18 kills to lead all players.
- Grant added 12 kills for a double-double, while both of Valpo’s middles enjoyed strong offensive outputs as well. McCarthy hit .321 with 13 kills, while Hart finished with 11 kills on .333 hitting.
- Victoria Bulmahn handed out 50 assists — already her sixth career match with at least 50 helpers — and has now finished with a double-double in nine consecutive matches.
- It was a well-rounded match for McCarthy beyond her offensive production. She tied with Hart for team-high honors with five blocks as Valpo tallied 10 total team rejections, set a career high with four service aces — half of Valpo’s team total of eight — and picked up six digs as well.
Valpo (5-6, 4-5 MVC) looks for the road sweep of Drake on Monday evening with a 5 p.m. first serve from Des Moines. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN+.