For the first time in three weekends, the Valpo volleyball team was back in action at the ARC on Friday, but while the venue was different, the result was the same — a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-22) victory over visiting Belmont to extend the Beacons’ winning streak to six straight matches.
How It Happened
- Valpo gained control of the opening set early on, reeling off six points in a row to turn a two-point deficit into a 10-6 advantage. Senior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais), junior Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) and sophomore Maddie Moan (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock [Milwaukee]) each had a pair of kills during that spurt.
- The Beacons pushed their first-set edge to six points at 14-8 before Belmont put together a rally and closed to within 16-14. Valpo responded with four in a row — including a kill and a block for fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) — to again gain a buffer, and the Beacons’ lead did not fall under three points the rest of the way.
- Valpo attempted to seize control of the second set early on as well, but could never push its edge past three points, and a 5-0 run mid-set for the Bruins gave them a 14-11 advantage.
- The Beacons’ key spurt in the second frame came just a few points later, as trailing 17-15, Valpo posted four consecutive points — including two kills by Swistek — to go ahead 19-17.
- Valpo never trailed again in the set, but Belmont did tie things up twice, including at 23-23 as the Bruins erased a three-point deficit. Swistek came through with another kill to give the Beacons set point, and a big termination by Januski closed out the frame and gave Valpo a 2-0 lead in the match.
- It was all Beacons early in set three, as they took a quick 6-2 lead and forced Belmont to use both of its timeouts in the early going.
- The Bruins did rally back from the deficit and actually tied the score three times later in the set, but on all three occasions — 9-9, 12-12 and 17-17 — Valpo prevented Belmont from taking the outright lead.
- At the latter tie, it was Swistek breaking the deadlock with a kill, followed by a solo rejection from Januski, who proceed to then team up with fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) on a block to make it 20-17 Valpo. The lead did not fall under two points the rest of the way, with a kill by Strongman closing out the sweep.
Inside the Match
- The Beacons extended their season-best winning streak to six straight matches Friday.
- All six wins in the winning streak have come in MVC play, just the fourth time Valpo has won six or more league matches in a row since leaving the Mid-Continent Conference following the 2006 season. The 2009 and 2013 teams both won six Horizon League matches in a row, while the 2008 team claimed nine consecutive Horizon League wins.
- Three of Valpo’s last five victories have come in straight sets.
- The Beacons remain perfect all-time against Belmont with wins in all four matchups, including all three since the Bruins joined the Valley last season.
- Valpo is one victory away from securing a winning season, which would be the 20th such season in the 22 seasons head coach Carin Avery has led the program.
- Swistek led the way for Valpo on the attack Friday, hitting .333 with 13 kills.
- Strongman enjoyed another stellar match offensively, needing just 17 swings to tally 10 kills as she hit at a .471 clip.
- In the winning streak, Strongman is hitting .424 with 2.95 kills/set.
- Januski just missed making it a trio of Beacons in double figures, posting nine kills to go with her match-best four blocks.
- Redshirt sophomore setter Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) had her strongest output of the season in terms of set percentage, as she tallied 22 assists on just 42 set attempts. It was the second time this season Kois has registered assists on at least half of her set attempts.
- Sophomore Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) picked up a match-best 13 digs and moved up into 19th place in program history with 1,187 career digs.
Valpo (16-9, 8-4 MVC) goes after a seventh win in a row on Saturday as the program hosts its annual cancer awareness match. The Beacons take on Murray State at 5 p.m., with the match airing live on ESPN+.