The Valpo volleyball team extended its winning streak to four consecutive matches, the last three of which have all come away from home, on Friday evening with a 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21) victory at Southern Illinois.
How It Happened
- Valpo scored the first three points of the opening set, matching what was the biggest lead for either side in the first frame. SIU came back to take the lead twice in the set, but the Beacons prevented the Salukis from extending their lead past a single point on either occasion.
- Valpo led late 23-20 following a kill from fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]), and after consecutive SIU points, the Beacons earned set point at 24-22 thanks to a block from senior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) and junior Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie).
- SIU scored each of the next two points to force extra points, but that just set up Januski to rack up back-to-back kills to close out the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- Valpo held a 5-1 edge early in set two before the Salukis scored 14 of the next 18 points to take control, eventually evening the match at one set apiece.
- It was a battle for control of the third set into the second half of the frame, as neither side held more than a two-point lead for the first half of the set. Tied 14-14, Valpo strung together three straight points — including a kill and a block from Januski — to pull ahead 17-14, but SIU came back with three in a row of its own to again even the score at 17-17.
- It was all Beacons from there, however, as they ended the set on an 8-1 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Strongman tallied a trio of kills in the closing stretch to lead the way.
- The fourth set proved to be a story of runs, the biggest of which fell in Valpo’s favor. The Beacons led 6-3 early on, but SIU flipped the script with six points in a row to go ahead, 9-6.
- Valpo responded in an even bigger fashion, piecing together 10 consecutive points — highlighted by two kills and two blocks apiece by Strongman and senior Olivia Blackketter (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South [Winthrop) — to turn the three-point deficit into a 16-9 lead.
- SIU tried to battle back, getting as close as two points at 19-17, but Valpo held the Salukis at bay and another kill from Strongman closed out Friday’s road win.
Inside the Match
- Valpo has won four matches in a row for the second time this season, the last three of them coming on the road.
- This is the first time Valpo has won three consecutive conference matches, all away from home, since the spring 2021 campaign, when it won the second match at Illinois State before sweeping the two-match weekend at Drake.
- Prior to that, the last time Valpo had played at least three consecutive conference matches on the road and won all of them came back in 2008, when it swept road trips at Youngstown State and Cleveland State and at Loyola and UIC on consecutive weekends.
- Valpo owns an 11-2 record over SIU since joining the Valley, including wins in each of the last six meetings.
- The Beacons continued their recent strong defensive play on Friday, limiting SIU to .155 hitting. The defense at the net stood out yet again, as Valpo racked up 12 total team blocks — the team’s fourth straight match with double-digit blocks, for the first time since the 2021 team did so in five consecutive matches Nov. 13-26.
- Both of Valpo’s middles enjoyed strong matches on Friday, highlighted by Strongman, who posted a match-high 13 kills on .407 hitting and tied for match-high honors with six blocks.
- Strongman has tallied double digits in kills six times in Valpo’s 10 MVC matches and has hit above .400 five times.
- Januski backed up Strongman with 12 kills of her own and matched her fellow middle with six rejections.
- Swistek picked up nine kills, but her back-row work was most impressive, as the junior tallied 28 digs — 10 more than any other player and a new season high.
- Sophomore Maddie Moan (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock [Milwaukee]) enjoyed another good outing on the right side, hitting .316 with seven kills. She notched six digs as well, easily a career high, and also tied her season best with three blocks,
- Setters Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) and Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) each handed out 22 assists on Friday. Bulmahn finished with 11 digs as well for her sixth double-double of the year.
- Two Beacons moved up Valpo’s career digs chart in Friday’s win. Fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) posted 15 digs to increase her career total to 1,534 digs, moving into ninth position in program history and just three shy of eighth place. Meanwhile, sophomore Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) cracked the top-20 in program history, as her 16 digs bumped her career total to 1,143 digs.
Valpo (14-9, 6-4 MVC) goes for a fourth straight road victory on Saturday at Missouri State. The matchup with the Bears begins at 5 p.m.