The Valpo volleyball team came up one step shy of claiming the first postseason tournament championship in program history on Sunday night in front of 2,220 fans at the ARC, as the Beacons finished as 2021 NIVC runner-ups behind visiting UNLV, which earned a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-18) victory in the tournament championship match. Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) and Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) represented Valpo on the All-Tournament Team, while Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) finished her career in second place in NCAA D-I history in career digs.
How It Happened
- A block from McCarthy and Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) on the match’s opening point sent the crowd into an early frenzy.
- Valpo hopped out to a two-point lead on multiple occasions in the early going, and after UNLV evened the set at eight-all, scored three in a row on a pair of Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) kills and a block from McCarthy and Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) to go up 11-8.
- The Rebels responded with 11 of the next 15 points, taking the lead for good at 15-14 and extending their lead to 19-15. Valpo got no closer than three points the rest of the way as UNLV claimed the opener.
- The first multiple-point lead for either team in the second set came on three straight points for Valpo which pushed its lead to 10-7.
- UNLV came back with five of the next six points to regain the lead at 12-11.
- The two teams continued to struggle for control through the next 10 points, as once again, neither squad would lead by more than one point.
- With Valpo leading 17-16, the Rebels scored four straight to gain a foothold as part of a larger 9-2 run to end the set and go up 2-0 in the match.
- Valpo scored the first three points of the third set before UNLV reeled off eight of the next nine to take the lead for good.
- The Beacons got no closer than three points the rest of the way. Valpo did make one push late, erasing half of a six-point deficit thanks to two kills from Swistek and a Cookerly service ace to close to within 20-17, but UNLV ended the match on a 5-1 run to claim the tournament title.
Inside the Match
- McCarthy paced Valpo’s offensive effort with nine kills on .250 hitting.
- Anderson dished out 13 assists, while Victoria Bulmahn (McCordville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) posted a double-double with 12 assists and a team-high 11 digs.
- Cookerly added 10 digs, while McCarthy and Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) each tallied three blocks.
- UNLV out-hit Valpo by a .292-.106 margin, in large part due to 13 blocks by the Rebels.
Inside the Tournament
- Valpo earned its best postseason finish in program history with its runner-up finish in this year’s NIVC.
- The Beacons won four matches in the postseason, giving the program six postseason victories all-time.
- The runner-up finish is the best by an MVC program in the NIVC.
- McCarthy averaged a team-high 2.93 kills/set and added 0.87 blocks/set as well over the five tournament matches to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Meanwhile, Anderson averaged 6.00 assists and 2.47 digs per set over the course of the tournament.
Inside the Season
- Valpo finished the season at 26-10 overall, the eighth team in program history to win 26 or more matches.
- Included among those 26 wins were 12 MVC victories, giving the Beacons their best finish (t-3rd) since joining the Valley.
- Numerous players cracked Valpo’s single-season charts this season. Cookerly finished the year with 661 digs, eighth-most in the 25-point era and good for 10th overall in program history.
- Hart tallied 132 blocks, third-most in the 25-point era and ninth-most overall. She also hit at a .274 clip for the season, seventh-best in the 25-point era.
- McCarthy secured spots on four different top-10 charts in the 25-point era. Her .280 hitting percentage is tied for fourth, 127 blocks are good for sixth, 443.5 points ranks eighth and 356 kills is 10th-best.
- Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) picked up 32 service aces, tied for sixth in the 25-point era.
- As a team, this year’s squad ranks among the top-five in program history in the 25-point era in service aces (155, 3rd), blocks (293, t-3rd), digs (2,330, 5th), kills (1,743, 5th) and assists (1,628, 5th). The Beacons’ block total is tied for seventh-best overall in program history, while the dig total is good for ninth.
Inside the Careers
- Five Valpo players sported the Valpo uniform for the final time on Sunday.
- Cookerly closed her career as the Valpo and the MVC record holder for career digs, wrapping up with 3,175 digs — just one shy of the NCAA D-I record in the category.
- McCarthy ranks second in program history with 458 blocks and eighth with 1,215 kills.
- Anderson finished third with 4,615 career assists and 14th with 1,289 career digs.
- Hart posted 778 kills and 350 blocks, the latter mark just missing the program’s career top-10, and is tied for sixth in Valpo history with a .256 career hitting percentage.
- Gabby Daniels (Mill Valley, Calif./Saint Francis) registered 56 digs and nine service aces over 47 career appearances.