The Valpo volleyball team came away with a split of the longest road trip in Missouri Valley Conference play on the opening weekend of the conference slate, falling on Saturday evening at Missouri State, 3-1 (25-14, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23).
How It Happened
- The first set was tied at 9-9 before the Bears outscored the Beacons by a 16-5 margin to pull away and claim the opener.
- Valpo rebounded well from dropping the opening set, however, as it never trailed in evening the match at one set apiece. A five-point spurt — including two kills from Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) — pushed a 12-9 lead to 17-9, and the advantage reached as many as nine points.
- The Bears rallied late in the set, closing to within as few as three points at 24-21. But out of a Valpo timeout, freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) came away with a kill to close out the second frame and make it a 1-1 match.
- MSU led nearly start to finish in the third set, steadily pulling away from the Beacons. Trailing 23-11 late in the frame, Valpo put together a rally, reeling off seven points in a row to make it 23-18, but could get no closer than that.
- The fourth set proved to be the tightest of the match. Valpo led throughout the early stages, but approaching the halfway point, MSU jumped on top and extended out to a three-point edge at 18-15.
- The Beacons came back with three straight points and five of the next six to regain the advantage, and took a two-point lead at 22-20 on a service ace from Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian). The teams traded sideouts to move Valpo within two points of forcing a fifth set, but the Bears closed out the match with four consecutive points to finish out their 3-1 win.
Inside the Match
- The loss was Valpo’s first of the season when winning at least one set, as its other two defeats had come in straight sets.
- It was also the first defeat of the year for the Beacons in a true road match, as they had started the season with five consecutive true road wins.
- Saturday’s match was Valpo’s 13th straight away from home to open the fall 2021 campaign.
- For the second straight night, senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) led Valpo in both kills and blocks. Against the Bears Saturday, she posted 12 kills and four rejections.
- McCarthy joined Hart in double figures in kills with 11. She enters next weekend with 978 career kills, just 22 away from reaching the prestigious 1,000-kill milestone.
- Fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 28 assists Saturday and tallied nine digs, while sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) notched 12 assists and 13 digs.
- Ravotto led the Valpo effort in the back row with 17 digs. Fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) tallied 14 digs and now has 2,774 career digs — four shy of Courtney Pence’s MVC record.
Valpo (10-3, 1-1 MVC) takes to the floor of the ARC for the first time this season next weekend for a busy stretch, as it will host three matches in four nights. The three-match weekend opens Friday evening at 6 p.m. against Indiana State, and all the action can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN.