After winning its tournament opener on Sunday, the sixth-seeded Valpo volleyball team was eliminated by third-seeded UIC in second round action at the MVC Championship in Evansville, Ind. on Monday evening, as the Flames defeated the Beacons in straight sets (25-23, 25-20, 25-17).
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out of the gates strong on Monday, scoring six of the match’s first seven points. The Beacons’ lead was still five at 8-3 before a 10-3 run from UIC gave the Flames their first lead of the match.
- Valpo evened the set at 14-14, 15-15 and 20-20 after the Flames’ run, but was unable to gain the lead outright again. UIC scored three straight after 20-20 to go up 23-20, but the Beacons countered with two in a row to close back within one. The teams traded sideouts to close the set, though, as UIC claimed the opener.
- UIC led throughout the early stages of set two and enjoyed a five-point advantage at 12-7 before the Beacons scored six of the next seven — including two kills from fifth-year Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) — to tie the frame at 13-all.
- The Flames came back with an 11-3 run to earn set point at 24-16. Valpo scored four in a row to keep the set alive, but on its fifth chance, UIC finished with a kill to go up 2-0 in the match.
- UIC controlled the third set from the jump and moved to within two points of the sweep at 23-10. But in typical Valpo Volleyball fashion, the Beacons kept fighting and reeled off seven points in a row — three of which came on kills by senior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) — to erase more than half the deficit before the Flames closed the match with back-to-back kills.
Inside the Match
- Valpo split two matches at the MVC Championship for its fourth consecutive tournament appearance.
- UIC hit .316 on Monday evening, just the second time this year an opponent hit better than .300 against Valpo — the other being UIC hitting .320 in the regular season finale.
- The Flames out-killed Valpo in Monday’s match, 44-32. The Beacons did enjoy a 31-28 edge in digs.
- Cooper and senior Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) tied for team-high honors with seven kills Monday. Strongman did so on 15 swings with no errors, hitting at a .467 clip.
- Freshman libero Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) led all players with 16 digs.
Inside the Season
- With 22 wins this year, the 2022 Valpo squad became the 17th team in Carin Avery’s 21-year tenure as head coach to reach 20 victories.
- This year is also the 19th time in Avery’s 21 seasons Valpo has finished with a winning record.
- The Beacons finished in the top half of the MVC regular season standings this year, the 20th time in Avery’s 21 seasons the program has done so. Valpo is the only team to finish in the top-half of the MVC standings each of the last six seasons.
- Junior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) smashed Valpo’s single-season record with a .360 hitting percentage. The program’s previous 25-point era record in the category was .307 (Kelsey Victor, 2014), while the previous overall record was .334 (Nicole Schulz, 2006).
- With 120 blocks on the season, Januski also moved into seventh place in the 25-point era for rejections.
- Strongman also surpassed the previous 25-point era record for hitting percentage as she swung at a .308 clip, now fourth-best in program history overall.
- The Valpo and MVC single-season records for digs by a freshman now stand at 722 after Hickey’s 16-dig performance on Monday. That mark puts Hickey in fourth place in Valpo’s 25-point era, fifth place overall at Valpo and seventh place overall in the MVC single-season record books.
- Junior Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) cracked the top-10 in the 25-point era at Valpo in service aces with 31, good for ninth.
- As a team, Valpo registered 152 service aces this year, the fourth-best program total in the 25-point era, and the Beacons tallied 281.5 blocks, tenth-most overall in program history.