The Valpo volleyball team was right in all three sets on the road against preseason MVC favorite UNI Friday evening in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but the Panthers came out with wins late in all three frames to earn the 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) victory.
How It Happened
- Trailing 11-8 in the first set, Valpo put together a 7-1 run — including a block and a kill from fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) — to take a 15-12 lead at the media timeout.
- The Beacons’ lead was still three points at 17-14 and it was still a multi-point edge at 19-17, but UNI closed out the opening set on an 8-2 run to take the lead in the match.
- It was a tussle for control through the first half of the second set, featuring 10 ties and seven lead changes. A kill by senior Olivia Blackketter (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South [Winthrop]) and a Panther error leveled the frame at 12-12 at the halfway mark.
- UNI came back with three points in a row, however, to push its lead to 15-12 — the largest for either team to that point of the set. Valpo was unable to string together consecutive points the rest of the frame as UNI took a 2-0 lead in the match.
- The Panthers took four of the first five points of the third set, but Valpo battled throughout the set despite trailing by as many as four points. With the deficit sitting at 18-15, junior Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie), Blackketter and senior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) came up with kills in a four-point stretch to cut the UNI lead to 19-18.
- The Panthers scored the next two before a termination by redshirt sophomore Sam Warren (Kentland, Ind./South Newton) brought Valpo within 21-19. UNI scored two more in a row, however, and the Beacons could not get closer than three points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- Valpo reached at least 20 points in every set despite falling in straight sets, the first time the program has done so in a sweep since Nov. 17, 2017 versus Missouri State.
- Despite falling in the match, the Beacons held a slight 46-45 edge in kills, snapping a 35-match winning streak when owning an advantage in kills which dated back to Oct. 30, 2021 at Indiana State.
- Valpo hit .215 for the match, its season best in a loss this year, while the 19 kills the Beacons put up in set three were their highest total in a single frame this season.
- UNI hit .310 for the match, however, as the Panthers committed just 10 attack errors. The service line also hurt Valpo, as it did not tally a service ace while committing seven service errors.
- One match after reaching the 1,000-dig milestone for her career, sophomore Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) continued to rack up the plays in the back row, finishing with a match-best 22 digs — her sixth showing of at least 20 digs this season.
- Valpo’s middles continued their efficiency on the attack Friday, again led by Januski. The senior posted a team-best 12 kills on .435 hitting — her ninth match with double-figure kills this year — and added three blocks.
- Meanwhile, fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) notched nine kills on .471 hitting.
- Ravotto tallied eight kills and added eight digs as well to up her career total to 1,468 digs, just eight shy of the program’s career top-10 in digs.
- Redshirt sophomore Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) led Valpo with 21 assists.
Valpo (10-7, 2-2 MVC) closes out a stretch of four straight matches against the top four teams in the MVC preseason poll on Saturday evening with a 5 p.m. match at Drake, which was chosen second prior to the season. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.