The Valpo volleyball team earned a historic win Sunday afternoon at the ARC, defeating UNI for the first time in program history in a hard-fought 3-2 (26-24, 25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 15-13) victory in a key Missouri Valley Conference match.
How It Happened
- Much like its victory in the fifth set three weekends ago at Illinois State, it looked like Valpo would run away with the decisive fifth frame. The Brown and Gold jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the fifth set on the serve of sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian).
- Unlike the match at Illinois State, however, UNI battled back. The Panthers scored nine of the next 12 points to close to within one at 10-9.
- Senior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) halted the UNI momentum with a kill, and senior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) and freshman Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) teamed up on a block to push the lead to 12-9.
- A UNI kill was answered by another block, this time Jaclyn Bulmahn teaming up with McCarthy on the rejection to make it 13-10.
- The Panthers scored the next two before McCarthy picked up a huge kill to give Valpo match point at 14-12. UNI picked up a kill to keep the match alive, but a service error closed out the victory for the Brown and Gold.
- Big runs and tight sets were the story of much of the match, and it started from the jump. UNI opened the first set by going out to a 14-7 lead before Valpo came back with 10 of the next 12 points to take it first lead of the frame at 17-16.
- Later, trailing 21-19, Valpo reeled off four straight points — the last two coming on blocks from junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and sophomore Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) — to go ahead 23-21.
- The Panthers scored three straight to earn set point at 24-23 before an error extended the opening frame. Hart picked up a kill to give Valpo a set point chance at 25-24 and the Brown and Gold converted thanks to a kill out of the back row from Ravotto.
- The second set was the only frame to be decided by more than two points, but it doesn’t mean it was a blowout throughout. Valpo used an 8-1 run early on to go ahead 14-5.
- UNI scored 11 of the next 14 points, however — the final five coming in a row — to close the margin to 17-16. Valpo responded in a big way, though, scoring seven straight points on the serve of junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) — including two aces — to pull away.
- The third set looked like it would be all Panthers, as they jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Valpo kept inching its way back into the frame, though, and eventually tied things up for the first time at 22-22.
- Valpo was unable to connect back-to-back points in the late stages of the set to earn a set point, however, and UNI eventually converted on its third set point to extend the match.
- The fourth set was the tightest throughout, featuring 11 ties and five lead changes. The frame was up for grabs late as the two teams were tied, 22-22, but UNI scored three of the final four points to force the fifth set.
Inside the Match
- Valpo defeated UNI for the first time in program history. The Panthers had won the previous 14 matchups, including a 1995 NCAA Tournament play-in match and eight meetings since Valpo joined the MVC.
- This marks the third time in Valpo’s four years in the MVC it has gone the full five sets with UNI.
- UNI is the second team that Valpo has beaten this year for the first time in its tenure in the Valley, as Valpo also earned its first MVC win over Illinois State earlier this season. Valpo has now beaten each of the other nine MVC programs at least once since joining the conference.
- Valpo has now gone five sets in seven of its 15 matches this year. After losing its first four five-set contests, Valpo has won each of the last three that have gone the distance.
- Valpo matched its season high with 13 blocks as a team. Three different players tied their career high in the blocks department — Hart (8), Jaclyn Bulmahn (5) and Boyer (4) — while McCarthy matched a season high with five rejections.
- Leading the offense was Grant, who picked up 17 kills to go along with her 15-dig effort defensively.
- Jaclyn Bulmahn finished with 14 kills, while Hart picked up 11 terminations. Victoria Bulmahn dished out 47 assists in the win.
- As she is wont to do, senior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led all players in the back row, registering a match-high 27 digs. With 2,428 career digs, Cookerly moved past Drake’s Alana Wittenburg for fourth position in MVC history in the category. She enters Monday just two digs away from moving into the NCAA career top-25 chart.
- Senior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) recorded 16 digs and Ravotto tallied 10 as Valpo out-dug UNI, 87-83. The Panthers held a 66-59 advantage in the kills category, but the Brown and Gold posted a .167 hitting percentage to UNI’s .152.
Valpo (8-7, 7-6 MVC) looks for the two-match sweep of the Panthers on Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the ARC in a key contest for conference standing positioning. The match can be seen live on ESPN+ and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso), with all the live coverage links available on ValpoAthletics.com.