The fourth-seeded Valpo volleyball team battled toe-to-toe with top-seeded Loyola in MVC Tournament semifinal action Friday afternoon in Normal, Ill., but the Ramblers claimed the key final points as the Beacons dropped a 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 26-24, 18-25, 15-13) decision. Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) moved into second place in program history in career blocks early in the match.
How It Happened
- Trailing 18-16 in set one, Valpo put together a 7-1 run to flip the two-point deficit into a four-point advantage. The Beacons had three blocks during the run, including a pair which saw McCarthy and Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) team up on the rejection.
- Loyola scored the next three points to close to within 23-22, but the teams traded sideouts on the last three serves. Kills from Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) accounted for Valpo’s final two points of the set, including on its second set point opportunity as the Beacons took the 1-0 lead in the match.
- The Ramblers took control of the second set approaching the halfway mark, as Valpo last led at 11-10. Loyola scored 12 of the next 16 points from that juncture and eventually evened the match at one set apiece.
- It looked like Valpo had the third set in hand, pulling away to an 18-11 advantage. But Loyola came back with a 9-1 run to erase the entire deficit and pull in front, 20-19.
- A Boyer kill briefly tied the frame at 20-all before the Ramblers scored four of the next five to earn set point at 24-21. Valpo saved three set points to force extra points at 24-24 before Loyola came up with consecutive kills to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- Valpo led nearly from the outset in the fourth set, sparked by six kills in the set from Boyer. The Beacons’ lead reached double figures at 21-11 on a service ace from Abby Boyle (Byron Center, Mich./Byron Center), and Valpo eventually forced the decisive fifth set on a kill by McCarthy.
- The teams traded the lead three times in the early stages of the fifth set, with a solo block from McCarthy giving Valpo a slim lead at 4-3 before Loyola scored five of the next six points to pull ahead, 8-5.
- Kills by McCarthy and Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) cut the deficit to one point, but the Ramblers answered with three in a row to lead, 11-7.
- Loyola eventually earned match point at 14-11. The Ramblers committed a pair of errors as Valpo stayed alive, but the Beacons’ push to force extra points in the decisive set came up one point shy as Loyola came up with the match-ending kill.
Inside the Match
- This marked Valpo’s third consecutive appearance in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament (excluding last year’s withdrawal pre-tournament).
- It was a balanced team effort on Friday, with five different players reaching double figures in kills.
- Boyer led all players with a career-best 15 kills while hitting at a .289 clip. The junior was also part of five blocks.
- Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) set a career high in the kills column as well, hitting .320 with 12 kills.
- Ravotto tallied 11 kills and added 15 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.
- Swistek and McCarthy rounded out the quintet of Valpo players with double-digit kills, registering 10 apiece. Swistek picked up 17 digs in the back row for her seventh double-double of the year, while McCarthy paced Valpo with six blocks.
- Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) dished out a season-high 29 assists and Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) tallied 20 assists.
- Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) notched a match-best 31 digs, the fourth time this season and 13th time in her career posting 30+ digs. Three of those 13 efforts have come in MVC Tournament play.
- Valpo’s seniors all continued climbs up the program’s single-season and career charts on Friday. Cookerly moved into ninth place in program history in the 25-point era for single-season digs with 591.
- Cookerly now owns 3,105 career digs, just 71 shy of the NCAA Division I career record.
- Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) posted four blocks to give her 120 on the year, fifth-most by a Valpo player in the 25-point era. McCarthy is just behind her on the same chart, in a tie for seventh with 114 blocks.
- McCarthy’s career total of rejections now sits at 445 blocks. She passed Heather Hynds for second place in program history in the category during the course of Friday’s match.
- Anderson moved past the 4,500-assist mark for her career in the first set and now has 4,525 career assists.