After dropping the first two sets Saturday afternoon at Murray State, the Valpo volleyball team stormed back to take sets three and four to force a decisive fifth frames, but the Racers came away with the 3-2 (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10) victory. Junior middle Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) dominated defensively at the net with 13 blocks, the most by a Valpo player in nearly two decades.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set behind a pair of kills from senior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) and a block by Boyer and Januski.
- The lead was still three points at 6-3, but Murray State quickly erased the advantage with three in a row, starting off a 12-4 stretch to end the match in its favor.
- The idea the match could reach the fifth set seemed remote late in the third, as Valpo trailed two sets to none and 19-14 in the third set. But the Beacons scored six of the next seven, including a pair of kills from senior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte), to tie the set at 20-all.
- The Racers scored the next two points to go up 22-20 before a kill from fifth-year outside Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) returned the serve to Valpo. Januski then did her best to singlehandedly deliver the set to the Beacons, as she was in on four straight blocks — two solo, two combination with Boyer — to overcome the deficit and extend the match to a fourth set.
- The fourth set played out much different than the third frame, as Valpo used an early 6-0 run to take the lead for good. The Beacons never fully put the Racers away, but were never threatened with the score being tied either, as they sided out seven consecutive times after MSU closed within two points — the last a rejection by Januski and senior Gretchen Kuckkan (Lafayette, Ind./Central Catholic [Indiana State]) which closed the set four win and forced the fifth frame.
- Valpo looked like it might complete a big rally to win the opening set, going on a 7-1 spurt to erase a 20-14 deficit and tie the set at 21-21, but the Racers scored the final four points to take the opener. The Beacons again rallied late in set two, but were never able to tie the score or overcome MSU hitting .471 for the set as the Racers went up 2-0 in the match.
Inside the Match
- Januski enjoyed a career night on the block, nearly doubling her previous career high of seven blocks as she was part of 13 rejections — four of the solo variety.
- The 13 blocks are the most in a single match in Valpo history by any player not named Liz Mikos. Mikos had three efforts of 13+ blocks, the last of which was a 13-block night against IPFW on Oct. 21, 2003 — meaning it had been over 19 years since a Valpo player had tallied that many rejections.
- Needless to say, Januski now holds the Beacons’ single-match high in the 25-point era, surpassing the previous mark of 11.
- Januski’s 13-block performance is the highest tally by any MVC player since Meg Viggars registered 14 for Southern Illinois at Loyola on Oct. 30, 2015.
- Boyer joined in with Januski for five of those blocks and totaled six in all, setting a season best.
- In all, Valpo posted 17 team blocks on Saturday, tied for fourth-most in a five-set match in the 25-point era. It was the program’s best single-match total since recording 18 rejections at Evansville on Oct. 4, 2019.
- Despite the Beacons being out-dug by the Racers, 79-65, freshman libero Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) once again led all players in the category, as she picked up nearly half of Valpo’s digs to finish the afternoon with 30 — her second effort this year of at least 30 digs.
- Hickey sailed past the 600-dig mark for the year on Saturday, as she has recorded 605 digs to date — the second-highest total for a freshman in program history. It is the 13th season of 600 or more digs by a Valpo player.
- One day after holding a 15-kill advantage and outhitting the opposition by 68 points, the tables were flipped on the Beacons on the attack Saturday. Murray State boasted a 74-50 advantage in the kills category and outhit Valpo, .239-.182.
- Boyer was the lone Beacon to reach double figures in kills, tallying 11.
- Valpo matched its season high with eight service aces, while redshirt freshman Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) set a career best with four aces.
Valpo (20-7, 8-7 MVC) returns home to the ARC for the final three matches of the regular season, starting against Bradley next Friday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN3.