The Valpo volleyball team closed its home weekend at the ARC on a winning note Saturday, twice rallying from one-set deficits to pick up a 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-14, 15-6) win over the Braves.
How It Happened
- Neither side gained more than a three-point lead in a tightly contested first set. Despite how tight the set was, though, the Beacons’ last outright lead came at 14-13 and their last tie came at 16-16.
- Bradley scored five of the next eight points to pull ahead 21-18, and while Valpo scored the next two to close to within one, the teams traded sideouts the rest of the way as the Braves took the opening set.
- The score was never even tied in the second set after Valpo scored the first four points, three of which came on a kill and two service aces by senior middle Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais).
- Bradley did close to within one point at 5-4, and after the Beacons had pulled away, the Braves again rallied to within two at 15-13. But Valpo posted a 7-0 run, featuring a kill and three blocks by fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]), to put away the set and enter the in-game break tied at one set apiece.
- Valpo tried to take control of the third set with an early 8-3 lead before Bradley came right back with a 7-1 run to grab the advantage.
- That set up a back-and-forth struggle for control, with the Beacons seemingly coming out on top as a 5-2 spurt turned a 15-15 tie into a 20-17 lead. Valpo still led by two at 23-20, but the Braves stunningly strung together five straight points to snatch the set and the 2-1 lead in the match.
- The Beacons refused to allow Bradley to get a foothold in the fourth set, as a few early one-point edges were the only leads the Braves had in the frame. With the score tied at 6-6, Valpo started a massive 13-3 run — including two kills and two blocks by Januski, as well as two kills and a rejection from sophomore right side Maddie Moan (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock [Milwaukee]) — which ended with a 19-9 lead and a clear path to the decisive fifth set.
- Valpo led from the start in set five, with Januski picking up kills on the first two points of the set. A four-point spurt which featured consecutive big swings for terminations by junior outside Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) gave the Beacons plenty of breathing room at 7-2, as they never surrendered consecutive points to the Braves in the final frame. A block by Januski and Moan eventually closed out the come-from-behind win for Valpo.
Inside the Match
- Saturday’s win snapped a four-match losing streak for the Beacons.
- It was the program’s third consecutive five-set victory over Bradley, as both of last year’s meetings went the distance before Valpo prevailed. This is the first time in program history Valpo has won three consecutive matches against a conference opponent, all in five sets.
- The Beacons recorded a season-best 13 blocks in Saturday’s victory. Ironically, it is Valpo’s highest single-match block total since posting 13 rejections against the Braves at the ARC last season on Nov. 11.
- Valpo out-hit Bradley by better than 100 points, finishing at a .246 clip to the Braves’ .141. The Beacons pushed their hitting percentage higher in each of the five sets, starting off hitting .143 in the opening set and ending the night hitting .455 in the fifth set.
- Valpo’s balanced attack featured five players picking up between nine and 12 kills apiece, highlighted by a pair of right sides setting career bests in the kills department. Redshirt sophomore Sam Warren (Kentland, Ind./South Newton), who tied her previous career high with nine kills on Friday night, bettered herself on Saturday with 11 kills while also matching her career best with four blocks.
- Meanwhile, Moan made the most of her opportunity Saturday. Making her first appearance in MVC play, Moan started the second set at right side and took full advantage with 10 kills on 18 swings, hitting at a .556 clip.
- Not only did Moan double her previous career high of five kills, her .556 hitting percentage is tied for third-best at Valpo in a five-set match in the 25-point era.
- Swistek and Strongman tied for team-high honors with 12 kills each, the latter doing so on .333 hitting. Swistek added 10 digs for her second straight double-double, while Strongman — who was one off her season high for kills — set a season best for blocks, one off her career best with eight rejections.
- Januski added nine kills on .412 hitting and was part of five blocks as well.
- Senior setter Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) recorded 29 assists and a season-best 17 digs, while redshirt sophomore setter Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) finished with 26 assists.
- Sophomore libero Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) paced Valpo with 22 digs, while fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) notched 17 digs and tied her career best with four blocks. With her final dig, Ravotto hit the 1,500-dig mark for her career.
Valpo (11-9, 3-4 MVC) heads on the road for its next four matches, starting next Friday at Indiana State. First serve is slated for 5 p.m. CT and can be seen live on ESPN+.