It was a spectacular way to kick off Homecoming weekend Friday evening at the ARC, as Valpo volleyball took to the court for its home opener in front of a raucous crowd and made quick work of visiting Indiana State, sweeping the Sycamores 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-21). Along the way, fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) reached yet another milestone, becoming the Missouri Valley Conference career digs record holder.
How It Happened
- Trailing 6-4 early in the opening set, the Beacons reeled off 10 of the next 11 points to zoom out to a 14-7 advantage. Senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and junior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) each had a kill and a block during the run, while junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) had a pair of kills as well.
- Valpo pushed its lead to as many as eight points in the set, but a five-point spurt from Indiana State late in the frame cut the lead to 21-19. Hart sided out with a kill to return the serve to Valpo, and fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) served the final three points of the set, with it coming to an end on a block from Hart and junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian).
- A 5-0 run early in set two — a stretch which featured two blocks and a kill by freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) — gave the Beacons a 9-4 lead. While they would never trail again, Indiana State battled back and eventually tied the set at 19-all.
- Kills from fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) and Cooper kept the Sycamores from gaining the lead and started a set-closing stretch in which Valpo claimed six of the final eight points. On the second set point opportunity, Hart notched a kill to give the Beacons a 2-0 lead in the match.
- Valpo never trailed in the third set, but much like the first two frames, had to hold off a push from Indiana State. This time, the Beacons gained control with a 6-1 run which gave them a 13-8 lead just past the midway point of the set.
- The Sycamores got back to within one point late in the frame at 21-20 before a service error gave the serve back to Valpo, and Ravotto followed up with an ace to make it 23-20. An error cut the advantage to two points once again, but Indiana State reciprocated with an attack error to give Valpo match point at 24-21. The Beacons needed just one chance to end the sweep, with the rookie Swistek providing the final termination.
Inside the Match
- Cookerly surpassed former Illinois State standout Courtney Pence for the MVC career digs record with a dig at 19-12 of the first set, her fifth of the match and the 2,779th of her career.
- Cookerly’s match-best 16 digs also included one which moved her into third place in NCAA history in the category. Now on 2,790 career digs, she is just one away from tying and two from moving past former Minnesota great Paula Gentil for second place in NCAA history.
- Another milestone was recognized before Friday’s match, as Anderson was honored for hitting 4,000 career assists earlier this season. She is one of just three players in program history to surpass that mark.
- Hart continued her stellar recent play with match highs in both kills and blocks on Friday. She hit an even .500 with 15 kills, tying her season high in the category, and matched McCarthy with a team-best four blocks.
- Swistek set a season best on the attack with 10 kills while hitting at a .269 clip and recorded her first career double-double as she tallied 10 digs as well.
- Anderson handed out 20 assists on Friday, while sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) dished out 18 assists.
- Ravotto matched a season high with three service aces and reached double figures in digs with 10.
- Valpo hit at a .282 clip for the match, hitting above .300 in two of the three sets. Meanwhile, the Beacons’ defense — which entered the night leading the conference in opponents’ hitting percentage — limited ISU — which entered the match with a 9-2 record this year and hitting an MVC-best .255 as a team — to just a .113 hitting percentage.
- Valpo swept the Sycamores for the sixth time in the last seven meetings between the two programs.
Valpo (11-3, 2-1) continues its stretch of three matches at home over four days with a Homecoming Saturday showdown with Evansville. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3.