Led by a record book-worthy performance on the attack from fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton), the Valpo volleyball team earned a big road victory at Evansville Friday night, downing the Purple Aces by a 3-1 (25-13, 9-25, 25-20, 25-22) final. The win is even more impressive considering that Evansville had swept each of its first six home matches this season.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the opening set, as both senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) had a pair of kills early on to help the Beacons to the lead.
- Evansville closed to within two points multiple times, the latest coming at 12-10. Valpo slammed the door on the set at that point, however, reeling off nine straight points to gain an insurmountable advantage. Hart had three more kills during that spurt, while Swistek had a pair as well.
- A service error by the Purple Aces eventually gave Valpo the opening set — a frame that saw the Beacons hit at a .500 clip with 17 kills while the Purple Aces posted just five kills.
- The second set was the antithesis of the first, as Evansville got out to a big lead early en route to evening the match at one set apiece.
- The third set was deceptively close, as despite featuring just one tie and no lead changes, Evansville was within striking distance throughout. Valpo pushed its lead to 9-5 early on courtesy of Hart’s third kill of the set, but the Purple Aces came back with three straight points.
- Evansville eventually tied the set for the one and only time at 13-13 following back-to-back points, but crucially for the Beacons, they would side out on each of the Purple Aces’ next five serves. Following the tie, Valpo scored three straight — including a kill from McCarthy — to push the lead to 16-13.
- Later in the frame, a service ace from Swistek made it a four-point lead at 20-16, and Valpo pushed its lead to five at 23-18 following an Evansville error. The Purple Aces finally scored consecutive points, but the cushion proved more than enough, as a UE service error gave Valpo set point and McCarthy came through with a kill on the first chance to give Valpo a 2-1 lead in the match.
- An especially tight fourth set featured a margin of no more than three points throughout. Back-to-back Evansville errors turned a 10-10 tie into a 12-10 Valpo lead, and the two squads sided out on 10 consecutive serves before a block by Hart and junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) gave Valpo an 18-15 advantage.
- The Purple Aces notched three straight kills to even the frame at 18-all, but a service error was followed by another timely ace from Swistek to make it 20-18 Valpo. Six straight sideouts ensued, with Valpo’s points coming via a pair of Boyer kills and a termination by McCarthy, before an Evansville attack error presented match point to the Beacons at 24-21.
- Evansville held off one match point chance with a kill, but a first-ball kill from McCarthy on the next serve fittingly closed out the Valpo victory.
Inside the Match
- McCarthy notched 14 kills on 17 swings Friday, finishing the evening with a career-best .706 hitting percentage.
- The .706 mark was the best single-match percentage by an MVC player this season.
- It is second-best in Valpo history for a four-set match, surpassed by only Morgan Beil’s .737 clip against Cleveland State in 2014. McCarthy’s hitting percentage was also the best in any length match by a Valpo player since that performance by Beil.
- It is the first time an MVC player has hit better than .700 in a four-set match since Illinois State’s Emily Schneider did so in 2014.
- Kills were aplenty for fellow middle Hart as well on Friday, as she notched a team-high 15 kills on .385 hitting in the winning effort.
- Giving the offense a boost from the right side was Boyer, who hit an efficient .333 with seven kills to complement the Beacons’ middles.
- Setting the offense at a .261 clip — Valpo’s second-best hitting percentage to date in conference play — were fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) and sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon). Anderson handed out 23 assists and now ranks 17th in MVC history with 4,327 career assists, while Bulmahn recorded 16 assists.
- Help defensively in the back line came in the form of fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg), who tied for match-high honors with 13 digs. Moving towards the 3,000-career dig milestone, Cookerly is now just 73 shy.
- Evansville fell on Friday despite recording 52 kills on .339 hitting — a season best by a Valpo opponent. The Beacons took advantage of 15 service errors from the Purple Aces.
- With the win, Valpo jumps a spot into fourth place in the MVC standings, moving past Evansville by a half-game for the moment.
Valpo (16-6, 7-4 MVC) will attempt to complete a season sweep of its Indiana brethren in the Valley on Saturday afternoon in Terre Haute. The 3 p.m. CT first serve from Indiana State can be seen live on ESPN3.