The beat marches on for the Valpo volleyball team, as it continued its run in the 2021 National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-21) sweep of Toledo Friday night at the ARC to advance to the tournament quarterfinals. The Beacons will get to remain at home for next round’s action as well, as it was announced after the match they will host MVC foe Evansville at the ARC on Monday evening at 7 p.m.
How It Happened
- The first set was Valpo’s from the start, as the Beacons never trailed. Toledo did not score back-to-back points until Valpo led 10-5, at which point Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) already had three kills and a block.
- The Rockets closed the gap to two points at 12-10, but Valpo answered with four straight points — including a kill by Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and an ace from Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) — to push its lead to 16-10.
- The advantage did not dip under four points the rest of the way in the opener, and another kill from Cooper closed out the first set to Valpo.
- Valpo scored five of the first seven points in set two. Toledo briefly tied the frame with the next three points, but the Beacons came back with five of the next six to pull ahead, 10-6.
- The Rockets rallied later in the set, and three times closed to within one point. Valpo never allowed Toledo to move back into a tie, however, with back-to-back kills from Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) key to blunting the Rockets’ momentum on one of those occasions.
- Toledo last got to within one point at 20-19. Valpo took advantage of its opponent’s errors from that point, however, to score four of the next five and earn set point at 24-20. On their second opportunity, the Beacons got the set-ending kill by McCarthy to go up 2-0 in the match.
- The third set proved to be the tightest of Friday night’s match. The battle for control early saw Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) pick up three early kills, and a termination by Hart gave Valpo a 10-9 lead.
- The Rockets burst forward with six straight points to take their largest lead of the match at 15-10 before another kill by Hart stopped the run.
- Valpo committed a service error to again make it a five-point frame, but proceeded to score eight of the next nine points to flip the script and take a 19-17 lead.
- Toledo tied the set at 19-19 and again at 20-20. Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Hart notched back-to-back kills to give Valpo a 22-20 advantage before a kill by the Rockets cut the lead to one.
- Toledo followed its kill with consecutive errors to push Valpo’s lead to 24-21 and give the Beacons match point. It took Valpo just one chance to close out its second sweep in as many nights, as Hart knocked home her match-best 12th kill of the evening to keep her career alive for at least three more days.
Inside the Match
- Valpo now has four postseason victories in its last two postseason appearances and has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIVC for the second time in as many appearances in the tournament (2018).
- Friday’s sweep came over a Toledo team which Valpo prevailed in a five-set battle with during the regular season.
- The Beacons have swept back-to-back matches after owning just one 3-0 victory over their previous 10 matches entering the tournament.
- Friday’s win improves Valpo’s record at the ARC this year to 10-1, matching the 2009 squad’s home mark. The last Valpo team to post a better home record was the 2005 NCAA Tournament team which was a perfect 13-0 at the ARC.
- The Beacons owned a 43-33 advantage in kills on Friday, and much like Thursday’s sweep, enjoyed a significant edge in hitting percentage (.222-.145) despite being outblocked (9-5). Valpo committed just six unforced attack errors, while the Rockets had 11 such errors.
- Leading the attack was Hart, who hit .391 with a match-high 12 kills. She paced Valpo in kills for the 10th time this season and reached double figures for the 17th time in the category.
- For the second straight match, McCarthy notched 10 kills, doing so Friday on .300 hitting. With 1,191 career kills, she is just one shy of ninth place in program history in the category.
- Boyer chipped in seven kills on .400 hitting as well from the right side.
- Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 21 assists in the win and tallied eight digs as well, in the process moving up to 15th place in program history with 1,267 career digs. Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered 17 assists.
- Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) continued her pursuit of the NCAA D-I career digs record as she led all players Friday with 20 digs. Cookerly now has 3,139 career digs, just 37 shy of the current record.
- Cookerly bumped her season total to 625 digs, eighth-most in a season by a Valpo player in the 25-point era and 10th-most across all scoring eras.
- Swistek picked up 14 digs in Friday’s sweep to go with three service aces, while Ravotto added 10 digs as well.
It’s a familiar foe on the docket Monday for Valpo (24-9), as Evansville comes to town for the fourth meeting between the two programs this season. The match will begin at 7 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN+. Tickets for Monday’s match will go on sale online on Saturday at noon, and will be available on Monday via phone and in person at the ARC Ticket Office.