September 09, 20221st2nd3rdFinal
Morgan St.1312130
MorganTeam StatsVALPO
-0.012Hitting Pct.0.356
81Total Attacks73
Billingsley - 5
Perkins - 5
KillsStrongman - 8
Jefferson - 11
AssistsKois - 15
Page - 1
Carruthers - 1
AcesHickey - 3
Sampson - 7
DigsKois - 11
Battle - 2
BlocksWarren - 4

September 09, 20221st2nd3rd4thFinal
0.153Hitting Pct.0.113
163Total Attacks168
Cooper - 18
KillsJohnson - 19
Bulmahn - 19
AssistsVought - 24
Ravotto - 1
Bulmahn - 1
Swistek - 1
AcesJohnson - 2
Hickey - 25
DigsLatka - 20
Speck - 8
BlocksYoung - 4
Jones - 4

September 10, 20221st2nd3rd4thFinal
Cleveland St.252320111
0.198Hitting Pct.0.086
172Total Attacks174
Cooper - 15
Ravotto - 15
KillsVoss - 17
Bulmahn - 29
AssistsKlaer - 31
Speck - 1
Bulmahn - 1
Kois - 1
Hickey - 1
AcesLatimer - 2
Ravotto - 30
DigsMcConihe - 18
Januski - 4
BlocksOlinger - 7
Volleyball Aims For Third Straight Tournament Title
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Volleyball Aims For Third Straight Tournament Title
Maddy Boyer earned the first All-Tournament Team honor of her career last weekend.

Valparaiso (6-0, 0-0 MVC)
at Akron/CSU Invitational
Friday, Sept. 9 - vs. Morgan State (0-7) - 10 a.m. CT [at Akron]
at Akron (1-5) - 5 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 10 - at Cleveland State (1-5) - 11 a.m. CT

Next Up For Valpo Volleyball: At the halfway point of the nonconference slate, it's two weekends down and two tournament titles for the Valpo volleyball program. The Beacons look to make it three straight championships this weekend as they travel to Ohio for an event co-hosted by Akron and Cleveland State, where they will face Morgan State in addition to the two hosts.

Previously: Valpo claimed tournament hardware for the second straight weekend, winning its own Popcorn Classic last weekend with victories over SIUE (3-1), Campbell (3-2) and Northern Illinois (3-1). Gretchen Kuckkan was named Tournament MVP, while Kara Cooper and Maddy Boyer joined her on the All-Tournament Team.

Looking Ahead: Nonconference play comes to a close next weekend, Sept. 16-17, at UTSA's Roadrunner Classic. UIW and Houston Baptist round out the tournament field for Valpo's final tune-ups heading into MVC action.

Following the Beacons: Valpo's match against Akron will be broadcast live on ESPN3, while its match at Cleveland State will be broadcast on ESPN+. All tournament matches will have live stats available via

Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 21st season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 455 matches (455-217, .677) at the helm of the program and has led Valpo to three league regular season and tournament titles. The program has made five postseason appearances under Avery, including three NCAA Tournament appearances, and advanced to the championship match of the 2021 NIVC. A two-time league Coach of the Year, Avery has coached 58 All-League recipients over her tenure at Valpo, which has spanned three different conferences. She is Valpo’s all-time leader in both victories and winning percentage, and owns a 510-241 (.679) record overall as a head coach.

Series History: Morgan State - The two programs have met just once before, a 3-0 Valpo victory in a neutral-site matchup at Delaware in 1996.

Akron - The Zips hold a 5-3 advantage in the all-time series, but all eight of the matchups occurred between 1987 and 1992. Seven of those eight showdowns came when both programs were in the North Star Conference.

Cleveland State - It's a long and winding history between Valpo and CSU, one which has spanned the North Star Conference, the Mid-Continent Conference and the Horizon League. Valpo holds a 20-17 edge in the all-time series, but under Coach Avery, Valpo is just 9-15, including an 8-15 record in the 10 seasons both programs were in the Horizon League. Notably, the Vikings emerged victorious over Valpo in both the 2007 and the 2015 HL Tournament title matches.

Scouting the Opposition: Morgan State - The Lady Bears enter the weekend at 0-7 on the season. Morgan State, which posted a 5-24 record a season ago, was picked to finish in seventh place in the MEAC this season.

Akron - The Zips enter the weekend at 1-5 this year, winning their finale last weekend over George Mason for their first victory of the season. Chosen to finish sixth in the MAC East Division this season, Akron is coming off of a 10-20 record in 2021.

Cleveland State - The Vikings sit at 1-5 through two weekends of action, with their victory coming over Lehigh. CSU went 8-21 last season and was picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League this year.

Valpo Picked Fifth in Preseason Poll: The Beacons have been picked to finish in fifth place in the MVC standings in 2022 in preseason polling of the conference's head coaches. Valpo garnered 95 points in the polling, including one first-place vote, to rank fifth in a tight bunch in the middle of the pack. Valpo was just four points behind Bradley in fourth position, but on the other side, was just one point ahead of UNI in sixth place. Notably, Valpo has outperformed its preseason projection in each of its first five seasons in the Valley.
Illinois State received five first-place votes and totaled 134 points to lead the poll ahead of Evansville (121 points, two first-place votes). UIC (3) and UNI (1) also picked up at least one first-place nod.

Looking Back at Last Season: Valpo enjoyed one of the top seasons in program history last year, finishing the campaign with a 26-10 record. The Beacons posted a 12-6 record in MVC action to finish tied for third place in the regular season standings - the program's best record in conference play and best finish since joining the Valley. Valpo then earned a berth in the NIVC and swept each of its first four matches to advance to the tournament championship match. Haley Hart was a First Team All-MVC recipient, while Peyton McCarthy and Rylee Cookerly each earned Second Team All-MVC honors. Cookerly also became the first student-athlete in program history to be named a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American.

Winning Multiple Titles: It took just two weekends for the 2022 Beacons squad to pick up two tournament championships, as after winning the Youngstown Invitational on opening weekend, Valpo won its own Popcorn Classic last weekend. Valpo has won 31 in-season tournament titles in head coach Carin Avery's 21 seasons at the helm of the program, including its home tournament seven times (out of 11 opportunities). The team has won at least one tournament in 16 of her 21 seasons, and multiple tournaments 11 times. This year marks the fifth time under Avery that the program has won tournament championships on each of the season's first two weekends (2003, 2010, 2013, 2015).

What Could Lie Ahead: A third straight tournament title to open the season would be just the second time in program history Valpo has won championships on each of the season's first three weekends. The 2010 squad claimed hardware at the La Salle Invitational, the Appalachian Invitational and the Bradley Invitational as part of an 11-match winning streak following a season-opening neutral-site loss. A third tournament title of any sort would make this year's team just the fifth under Avery to win three in-season tournament championships, and would fit a pattern - the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 teams all won three in-season titles.

Starting Off Hot: This year's team is one of just four in program history to open the season with at least six consecutive wins. The 2003 and 2013 squads both opened up 8-0, while with three wins this weekend, the 2022 Beacons would match the 2015 team for the best start in program history at 9-0.

What a Performance: It was a career night for senior outside Gretchen Kucckan as Valpo clinched the Popcorn Classic title last Saturday with its win over Northern Illinois. Kuckkan delivered 25 kills - far outpacing her previous career best of 17 - and did so at an efficiency seldom seen from an outside hitter. She hit at a .489 clip, committing just two attack errors on 47 swings — meaning that over half her swings resulted in kills. Kuckkan’s 25 kills are tied for fourth-most in a four-set match by a Valpo player since the move to 25-point rally scoring, while she is one of just five Valpo players to tally 25 or more kills in any length match under 25-point scoring, joining Angie Porché, Emily Campbell, Peyton McCarthy and Jillie Grant. Kuckkan didn’t just stand out offensively on Saturday, either. Defensively, she notched 15 digs — tripling her previous high in her time at Valpo and posting her first double-double as a Beacon.

Popping Off: Not surprisingly, Kuckkan was named MVP of the Popcorn Classic following her performance in the NIU win - her third collegiate All-Tournament Team accolade and her first MVP honor. She completely dominated the second half of Valpo's tournament run after playing just one set in the first half, averaging 4.50 kills/set on .492 hitting and 2.25 digs/set. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by senior right sides Maddy Boyer (2.46 kills/set, .301 hitting) and Kara Cooper (2.23 kills/set, .294 hitting, 0.92 blocks/set), both of whom earned All-Tournament honors for the first time.

More All-Tournament Honors: Highlighting the depth of this year's squad, Valpo's three All-Tournament Team honorees last weekend were completely different from their honorees opening weekend, when it claimed the Youngstown Invitational title. Sophomore outside Elise Swistek was Tournament MVP at Youngstown and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by senior outside Bella Ravotto and freshman libero Emma Hickey. Notably, Hickey is the fourth straight Valpo libero (Rylee Cookerly, Morganne Longoria, Taylor Root) to start on opening weekend at libero as a true freshman and receive All-Tournament Team honors.

Player of the Week: Starting at libero on opening weekend as a true freshman might be rare most places, but at Valpo, it's the norm, as the program's last four liberos have all started from the jump at the position. The most recent in Valpo's libero lineage, freshman Emma Hickey was named the MVC Defensive Player of the Week for her performance on opening weekend. Hickey averaged 5.36 digs/set and helped limit Valpo's opponents to just 9.73 kills/set over last weekend's three wins. She paced all players in two of the three matches, highlighted by a 28-dig effort in the Beacons' title-winning match against Youngstown State.

Leaving a Strong Legacy: Valpo graduated five seniors from last year's squad, a group which was integral in the program's transition into the Missouri Valley Conference and made a pair of postseason appearances. The group of Brittany Anderson, Rylee Cookerly, Gabby Daniels, Haley Hart and Peyton McCarthy combined for eight All-Conference honors and led the Beacons to the championship match of the NIVC in their final season at Valpo. They enjoyed numerous individual accolades as well, highlighted by Cookerly - the two-time MVC Libero of the Year finished her collegiate career as the Valpo and the MVC career record holder in digs and ranks second in NCAA D-I history. McCarthy ranks second all-time at Valpo in blocks and eighth in kills - the only player in the top-eight in both categories - while Anderson is third in program history in career assists and Hart sixth in career hitting percentage.

Who's Back: Despite the loss of such a talented group, the Beacons do return plenty of experience, as 10 letterwinners from last year's squad are back in 2022. One spot Valpo returns plenty of experience is on the pins. Outside hitters Bella Ravotto and Elise Swistek and right sides Maddy Boyer and Kara Cooper were all starters throughout MVC play and in the NIVC last season. In addition, outside hitter Jillie Grant and Gretchen Kuckkan were starters during the non-conference portion of the schedule before suffering injuries right around the start of MVC action. While Valpo loses Cookerly out of the back row, the Beacons still enter 2022 with a strong back line. Ravotto averaged over three digs per set last year, is nearing 1,000 digs for her career and was MVC Defensive Player of the Week during the spring 2021 season when filling in for a weekend at libero. In addition, Swistek averaged over three digs per set as a rookie last season as well. Meanwhile, at setter, Victoria Bulmahn split time setting with Anderson in a 6-2 last season after earning MVC Freshman of the Year accolades for the spring 2021 season setting full time in a 5-1.

Who's New: The roster is rounded out by seven newcomers to the active roster. Setter Addy Kois and hitter Sam Warren both redshirted last fall in their first season at Valpo. The Beacons welcome a pair of transfer middles to the squad - senior Miranda Strongman (LIU) and junior Olivia Blackketter (Winthrop). Three freshmen round out the newcomers, highlighted by Emma Hickey - the first AVCA High School All-American to sign with Valpo in program history. Outside Sophia Foster and middle Claire Campbell enter their first collegiate season as well.

Conference Honorees: While Victoria Bulmahn was named MVC Freshman of the Year during the spring 2021 campaign and transfer Miranda Strongman was a Second Team All-NEC choice that same season, this year's roster features zero players who have earned First or Second Team All-Conference accolades in the Valpo uniform. The last time Valpo entered a season with no players who had been named First or Second Team All-Conference at Valpo was the 2006 season - that year's team ended up featuring future Valpo Athletics Hall of Famer Angie Porché as a freshman.

Standards Maintained: Posting winning records and winning 20 matches in a season have been standards for the Valpo volleyball program under Coach Avery, and the 2021 team maintained those standards. The Beacons posted their 18th winning season in Avery’s 20 seasons at the helm and won at least 20 matches for the 16th time in the last 20 years. In addition, Valpo has finished in the top half of the MVC standings in each of its five seasons in the conference - a feat only matched by Illinois State - and has posted top-half conference finishes in 28 of the last 29 years.

Digging Deep: Valpo continued its long tradition of strong back row play last fall, finishing 15th nationally and leading the MVC with 17.13 digs/set. The program has ranked among the top-30 nationally in digs/set in each of the last 11 seasons, highlighted by the 2017 campaign in which it led the nation with 20.03 digs/set. Other top finishes include third nationally in the spring 2021 season (20.37/set), 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.