Friday night’s match at the ARC was about as tight as a three-set match could be, featuring the highest number of lead changes in a single Valpo match since 2002. But at the end of each of the three sets, it was the Beacons claiming the key points, as Valpo earned the 3-0 sweep (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) of visiting Missouri State to snap a three-match losing streak and remain perfect at home this season.
How It Happened
- The first set contained 10 ties and six lead changes, setting the stage nicely for how the entire evening would go.
- The final lead change of the set came fairly early on, as the Bears led 13-12 before Valpo put together a 9-2 run — including kills from four different players — to pull ahead, 21-15.
- Missouri State responded with four of the next five points to close to within 22-19, but junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) tallied kills on consecutive points to give Valpo set point at 24-19. On the second set point chance, fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) notched a kill to close the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- The second set again featured six lead changes to go with 11 tie scores.
- Missouri State led from the halfway mark of the frame all the way up until a three-point spurt put the Bears three points from evening the match at 22-18.
- Freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) recorded a kill to blunt the Bears’ momentum and then combined with McCarthy on a block to make it 22-20. Missouri State then committed four consecutive attack errors as Valpo turned the tables and had set point at 24-22.
- The Bears held off one Valpo set point attempt, but on its second chance, McCarthy closed out the set with another kill to make it a 2-0 lead for the match.
- The third set took the back-and-forth nature of the contest to another level, as it featured 15 ties and 11 lead changes.
- A two-point lead was the biggest advantage for either side in the third frame until the very end of the set. The Bears led 19-17 in search of a fourth set before a block from senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and junior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) kicked off a key four-point spurt.
- The rejection was followed by a kill from Boyer, and then Hart racked up back-to-back kills to turn what was a two-point deficit into a two-point lead at 21-19.
- The teams traded sideouts on the next three points, giving Missouri State the serve trailing 22-21. Boyer again came up with clutch kills to push it to set point, and Valpo needed just one chance to finish up the sweep, as McCarthy and Swistek recorded a block to wrap things up.
Inside the Match
- Valpo improved to a perfect 4-0 at the ARC this year and reached the halfway mark of MVC play with a 5-4 record in conference.
- The sweep contained 36 tie scores and 23 lead changes. The 36 ties were the most in a Valpo match since a 3-1 loss to UNI in the 2018 MVC Tournament featured 37 tie scores.
- But the 23 lead changes were even more noteworthy, especially considering Friday’s contest went just three sets. It is the largest number of lead changes in a Valpo match since the start of the 25-point era.
- You have to go all the way back to September 2002 to find more than 23 lead changes. It was a 3-1 victory for Valpo over Penn, one which included 35 lead changes.
- Two different Valpo hitters hit better than .400 in the sweep on Friday. Boyer racked up a match-high 12 kills and hit at a .417 clip, her third consecutive match with double-digit kills after reaching the 10-kill mark just twice in her first two and a half seasons.
- Seven of Boyer’s kills came in the third set alone, on just 11 swings with no errors.
- Hart continued her stellar Valley campaign as well, hitting .421 with 10 kills. She is now hitting .313 with 2.97 kills/set in conference play.
- Fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) had a strong night running her three rotations of offense Friday. On 54 set attempts, Anderson racked up 25 assists, as nearly half her sets were terminated. She now has 4,282 assists for her career and moved into 19th position in the category in MVC history on Friday.
- Sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) tallied 13 assists of her own in the sweep.
- McCarthy had a tremendous night defensively at the net, tying her season high with eight blocks to go with eight kills. Her sixth rejection was the 400th of her career, and she enters Saturday night’s match just two blocks away from fifth place in program history.
- Swistek set a season best with five blocks as well.
- Fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led Valpo with 15 digs, pushing her career total to 2,898. Swistek reached double figures in digs as well with 11, her ninth time hitting the 10-dig mark this season.
Valpo (14-6, 5-4 MVC) kicks off the second half of the MVC schedule on Saturday evening at the ARC, as it hosts Southern Illinois for a 6 p.m. first serve.