Playing on its home court for the first time in three weekends Friday night, the Valpo volleyball team dropped a 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20) decision to visiting Evansville at the ARC.
How It Happened
- Valpo erased an early 9-5 Evansville lead in the first set with a 7-2 spurt — a stretch which included a block and a kill from Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) — to pull in front, 12-11.
- The Purple Aces scored five in a row, however, to retake the lead for good and eventually pulled away for the opening-set win.
- Valpo went in front of Evansville for good in the second set early on, as two kills and a block by Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) were part of a four-point run which gave the Beacons a 9-7 lead.
- While Valpo led the rest of the way in the second set, it was never able to fully shake the Purple Aces. Evansville closed to within two points on multiple occasions late in the set, the latest coming at 23-21. But kills from Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) finished off the frame and evened the match at one set apiece.
- The Purple Aces led for most of the third set, but much like Valpo in the second frame, were unable to pull away, as their largest lead was just three points.
- The Beacons actually took the lead late in the set, stringing together three consecutive points to turn a two-point deficit into a 21-20 edge. But Evansville answered with three in a row of its own and went on to earn set point at 24-22. A kill by Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) held off one chance, but an Evansville kill on its second try gave the Purple Aces the 2-1 lead in the match.
- It was all Purple Aces to start the fourth set, as they scored six of the set’s first seven points. But facing a 10-4 deficit, Valpo came through with seven of the next eight points to make it a brand-new frame at 11-all.
- The set came down to the next squad to put together a run, and that ended up being Evansville, as the Purple Aces went on a 7-1 run to extend a 15-14 lead to 22-15. Evansville earned match point at 24-17, and while Valpo was able to extend the match three times, UE closed it out on a kill from Giulia Cardona at 24-20.
Inside the Match
- Friday’s loss snapped Valpo’s five-match winning streak in the series with Evansville, four of which came last season.
- Evansville tallied 12 service aces on Friday, the most by a Valpo opponent this season, and out-killed Valpo 59-46. The Beacons did hold advantages in digs (91-85) and blocks (7-5).
- The highlight of the work in the back row was the play of sophomore Abby Boyle (Byron Center, Mich./Byron Center). Despite playing just part of the fourth set, Boyle kept enough plays alive to reach double figures, racking up 10 digs — easily smashing her previous career high of three.
- Grant also set a season high in the back row with 16 digs on Friday.
- Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) recorded the 30th double-double of her Valpo career, tallying a team-best 24 assists to go with 11 digs.
- Cooper had a strong match on the attack, leading the Beacons with 16 kills on .406 hitting.
- Strongman paced Valpo in blocks for the 11th time this season, posting five rejections.
- The Beacons played Friday night’s match without the services of outside hitter Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) due to injury.
Valpo (18-6, 6-6 MVC) looks for a split of the weekend on Saturday when the Beacons host Indiana State at 5 p.m. Saturday’s match is the program’s annual Dig for the Cure match, with the team raising money for the Rin Seibert Scholarship Fund.