The Valparaiso University volleyball program boasts a strong tradition of successful liberos, but freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) topped them all on Friday, setting a new program single-match record with 43 digs as the Crusaders battled with ACC foe Notre Dame in an eventual 3-1 (25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 25-9) defeat in their season opener.
The Crusaders scored four of the final six points in the third set to force a fourth set against the Fighting Irish, but Notre Dame jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the fourth set en route to closing out the match.
How It Happened
- The Fighting Irish used a mid-set run in the first set to claim the opener, and then with the score just 19-18 in the second set, scored six of the final seven points to take a 2-0 advantage.
- The Crusaders looked poised to send the match to a fourth set as they jumped out to a 19-12 lead in the third frame, but Notre Dame went on a 9-2 run to even the set at 21-all. Back-to-back kills from senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) and junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) restored the lead to the Crusaders, and a Notre Dame service error eventually sent the match to set four.
- Notre Dame quickly claimed control of the fourth set, scoring the first six points en route to a 14-2 lead, and the Irish closed out the match from there.
Inside the Match
- Cookerly wasted no time making her mark on the Crusader record book, totaling 43 digs over the four sets for a new Valpo single-match record. The rookie picked up 10 digs in the opening set and nine in the second set before exploding for 19 digs in the third set.
- Cookerly’s 43 digs broke Valpo’s previous single-match record, as well as the program’s four-set match record, by three digs. The previous mark was set by Karen Kulick against UIC in November of 1991, back in the sideout-scoring era.
- Previous liberos Brittany Malicoat and Taylor Root had held the Crusaders’ rally-scoring single-match digs record at 39 prior to Cookerly’s effort on Friday.
- Carlson was the only Crusader to reach double figures in kills on Friday, finishing the night with 11 kills.
- Carlson also picked up 18 digs for a double-double, while redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) – returning from injury – also tallied 18 digs.
- Freshman setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) made her collegiate debut on Friday, recording a double-double with 23 assists and 11 digs.
- A new-look squad was on the floor for the Crusaders on Friday, as six of the 11 Valpo players who saw action were freshmen.
Valpo (0-1) closes out the Golden Dome Invitational on Saturday with a pair of matches, taking on New Mexico State at 9 a.m. CT and Rhode Island at 3 p.m. Both matches will have live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.