Valparaiso (15-6, 6-4 MVC)
Friday, Oct. 29 - at Evansville (16-4, 6-3 MVC) - 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 30 - at Indiana State (11-8, 3-6 MVC) - 3 p.m. CT
Monday, Nov. 1 - UNI (8-15, 3-7 MVC) - 6 p.m.
This Week in Valpo Volleyball: The second half of Valley play comes flying in fast and furious this weekend, as Valpo faces three matches in a four-day stretch. The Beacons will hit the road to take on their fellow Indiana programs on Friday (Evansville) and Saturday (Indiana State) before returning home Monday evening to face UNI for the first time this season.
Previously: Valpo enjoyed a perfect weekend in its two home matches last weekend, sweeping Missouri State on Friday night in a tightly-contested match before easily handling Southern Illinois on Saturday evening.
Looking Ahead: The Monday match against UNI is the first of four straight at the ARC for Valpo to close out the home campaign. Next weekend features just a single match, as the Beacons welcome Loyola on Friday evening, Nov. 5.
Following the Beacons: All three upcoming matches will be broadcasted live on ESPN3. Links for the live video, as well as live stats for all matches, are available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 20th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 438 matches (438-213, .673) at the helm of the program and has led Valpo to three league regular season and tournament titles, as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances. A two-time league Coach of the Year, Avery has coached 55 All-League recipients over her tenure at Valpo. She is Valpo’s all-time leader in both victories and winning percentage, and owns a 493-237 (.675) record overall as a head coach.
Series History: Evansville - The series against the Purple Aces is tied at 12-12, but Valpo holds a 10-2 advantage under Coach Avery and is 7-2 since joining the MVC. Valpo earned a 3-1 victory at the ARC in the first meeting this year, which saw Peyton McCarthy hit .371 with 18 kills and five blocks and Haley Hart go for 16 kills on .355 hitting and four blocks.
Indiana State - While Valpo holds a slim 16-15 advantage in the all-time series with the Sycamores, the edge is 11-5 under Coach Avery and 6-3 since joining the Valley. In fact, Valpo has swept six of the last seven meeting between the two teams, including a 3-0 decision at the ARC earlier this year. Haley Hart hit .500 with 15 kills and four blocks in that three-set win.
UNI - The Panthers hold a 14-2 advantage all-time over Valpo, but the mark was 14-0 before Valpo came up with a pair of historic wins last season. The Brown and Gold won in five sets on March 14 in the first of two matchups at the ARC for their first-ever win over UNI and followed with a three-set sweep the next day.
Scouting the Opposition: Evansville- The Purple Aces enter Friday at 16-4 overall and 6-3 in MVC play, having won each of their last six matches - four via sweep - since Valpo earned a 3-1 win on Oct. 2. Evansville boasts the top two players in kills in the Valley - Alondra Vazquez (4.29 kills/set) and Giulia Cardona (3.95 kills/set).
Indiana State - The Sycamores currently sit at 11-8 overall entering the weekend, but are just 3-6 in Valley play. ISU ranks second in the conference as a team in both opponent hitting percentage (.185) and service aces (1.57/set).
UNI - The Panthers own a 3-7 MVC record and an 8-15 overall mark, with a single match against Drake before Monday’s matchup. Junior Carly Spies ranks fifth in the MVC in blocks (1.05/set) and 10th in hitting percentage (.280).
Valpo Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll: For the fourth time in five seasons as an MVC member, Valpo has been picked to finish in seventh place in the conference standings in preseason polling of the conference’s head coaches. Illinois State topped the poll with 79 points and three first-place votes, narrowly edging out Drake, which tallied 77 points, including three first-place votes. Valpo has outperformed its ranking in the preseason poll in each of its first four seasons in the MVC and is one of two programs (Illinois State) to post top-half finishes in the MVC standings in each of the last four seasons.
Looking Back at the Spring: The spring 2021 campaign saw Valpo post an 11-9 record and finish fifth in the MVC standings with a 10-8 mark in conference action. Rylee Cookerly repeated as MVC Libero of the Year, was named the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was an AVCA All-Region honoree, while Victoria Bulmahn was tabbed the MVC Freshman of the Year. Included among Valpo’s 11 wins were the program’s first victory over Illinois State since joining the MVC and the first wins in program history over traditional power UNI.
Who’s Back and Who’s New: The Beacons return 10 letterwinners, including four starters and the libero, from the spring 2021 campaign - a group which accounted for 75% of the team’s kills, 90% of aces, 82% of digs and 86% of blocks last season. Valpo also returns a pair of players who didn’t see action last season, while welcoming in one transfer and four freshmen.
Digging Deep: Valpo continued its long tradition of strong back row play in the spring 2021 season, finishing the season ranked third nationally and second in the Valley with 20.37 digs/set. Valpo has ranked among the top-30 nationally in digs/set in each of the last 10 seasons, including leading the nation with 20.03 digs/set in 2017 to go along with a fourth-place rank in 2010 and a sixth-place finish in 2015. Since the move to 25-point scoring, only seven teams have averaged more than 20 digs/set over the course of a season, and Valpo is the only program to have done it twice. 2018 saw Valpo lead the nation with 2,613 total digs - a mark which set a program single-season record and a Division I record in the 25-point era. Valpo currently sits 20th nationally in digs/set this season with 16.90/set and leads the MVC in the category.
Next Up, 20 Wins: With a 15-6 record, the 2021 Valpo squad has clinched a winning record, something which has been a standard for this program. This marks the program’s 18th winning season in head coach Carin Avery’s 20 seasons at the helm. Next up would be another run at the 20-win milestone, something Avery’s teams have accomplished 15 times.
A Hard-Fought Win: A quick glance at the schedule and results shows a 3-0 win over Missouri State last Friday. But that belies how hard-fought a victory it was. The win over the Bears 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 it went just three sets. It is the largest number of lead changes in a Valpo match since the start of the 25-point era, and 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 in that match, one which included 35 lead changes.
Cookerly Continues to Dig: Fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly has checked numerous milestones off her lists of things to chase this season. First, she broke Valpo’s career digs record, previously held by Taylor Root, on Sept. 24 at Southern Illinois. One week later, on Oct. 1 against Indiana State, Cookerly surpassed former Illinois State standout Courtney Pence as the MVC’s career digs record holder. Finally, the next night against Evansville, Cookerly moved past Minnesota’s Paula Gentil for second place in NCAA history in career digs. The two-time MVC Libero of the Year next has her sights on the 3,000 career dig milestone, a mark which she enters this weekend 86 digs shy of after totaling 31 digs in the two sweeps last weekend. Cookerly currently ranks 28th nationally with an MVC-best 4.94 digs/set, on pace to finish in the top-30 for the fourth time in her career.
McCarthy Earns Another Honor: Fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy received her third weekly award from the MVC office and her second of the season this week after a strong weekend defensively at the net. McCarthy was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week as she averaged 1.83 blocks/set in the pair of wins by the Beacons, highlighted by an eight-block performance in the sweep of Missouri State - tying the third-most blocks in a three-set match in program history in the 25-point era. She is the first player this season in the Valley to be named both Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week. Along the way, McCarthy surpassed 400 career blocks and moved past Lauren Moulton for fifth place in program history in rejections. Offensively, McCarthy tallied a match-best 10 kills on .421 hitting in the sweep of SIU and now has 1,067 career kills, just 10 shy of the top-15 in program history.
Hart Continues Good Form: Senior middle Haley Hart had another good pair of performances in Valpo’s pair of sweeps last weekend, highlighted by posting 10 kills on .421 hitting in the three-set win over Missouri State. Within Valley play this year, Hart ranks fifth among MVC athletes with a .313 hitting percentage and ninth with an even 1.00 block/set. A Second Team All-MVC honoree last season, Hart’s .300 overall hitting percentage this year has improved her career hitting percentage to .259, good for fifth in program history.
Set to Kill: Fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson enjoyed two of the strongest matches of her career in terms of setting percentage last weekend in helping Valpo to the pair of sweeps. Anderson registered 25 assists on 54 set attempts in the win over Missouri State Friday, and then bested that with 22 assists on just 43 set attempts Saturday in the sweep of SIU. Her .512 setting percentage against the Salukis was the best single-match mark of her career. Anderson, who moved up two spots on the weekend to 18th in MVC history in career assists, averaged nearly eight assists/set on the weekend despite setting in a 6-2 and posted a .485 setting percentage after entering the weekend with a season setting percentage of .343.
All the Honors: Seven different Valpo players received All-Tournament Team accolades over its four early-season tournaments this season. Juniors Bella Ravotto (MVP) and Gretchen Kuckkan picked up awards for their play at the SIUE Cougar Classic. Senior Jillie Grant represented the Beacons on the All-Tournament Team at Toledo in the third weekend of action. In the second weekend of play at Tennessee Tech, fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy was named Tournament MVP (and went on to be named MVC Player of the Week) and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson and sophomore setter Victoria Bulmahn. In the opening weekend at Milwaukee, McCarthy and senior middle Haley Hart earned spots on that All-Tournament Team.