A stout defense led the way once again for the Valparaiso University volleyball team on Friday evening, as the Crusaders secured their second straight road win in MVC play with a three-set sweep at Bradley (25-18, 25-17, 25-22).
How It Happened
- Valpo never trailed in the opening set and extended its lead out to seven points at 19-12 before Bradley reeled off a 6-1 run to cut the Crusaders’ lead to two points.
- A kill from junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) halted the Braves’ run and sent freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) back to the service line. Cookerly served the final four points of the set, including a pair of service aces – one long and one short – as Valpo closed out the opener.
- The Crusaders jumped on top early in the second set, scoring the first five points – two of which came on Carlson service aces – as they never trailed. Valpo extended the advantage out to 21-10, and while the Braves scored five straight points to close within six, the Crusaders scored four of the set’s final six points to go into the locker room up two sets.
- The third set would be the most tightly contested of the match, as the score was tied eight times. Valpo again claimed the early advantage, but surrendered a 10-6 lead as the Braves scored eight of the next 10 points to go ahead 14-12.
- Head coach Carin Avery chose not to take a timeout, electing to let the Crusaders work through the Bradley run. Valpo regained the lead at 18-17 following back-to-back kills by redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and freshman Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton).
- Bradley would tie the score three times in the late stages, the latest coming at 20-20, but the Crusaders would never let the Braves regain the outright lead and scored three straight points to take control. On its second set point chance, Valpo concluded the sweep thanks to a kill from senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky).
Inside the Match
- Valpo bested its national-best average of 20.31 digs/set in the sweep with 64 digs over the three sets. The Crusaders also registered 10 blocks in the winning effort while limiting Bradley to just .095 hitting for the match.
- Valpo reached double figures in blocks for the ninth time this season as a team, including the second time in a three-set match.
- Cookerly paced the Crusader effort in the back row with a match-high 19 digs, while Ketcham tallied 18 digs as well in the victory.
- At the net, both Graboski and junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) contributed to five of Valpo’s 10 team blocks. A pair of Bronner’s rejections were of the solo variety.
- Carlson led the Valpo offense on Friday with 11 kills, the only Crusader to reach double figures in the category as Valpo needed just 38 kills to complete the sweep. Graboski and Ketcham posted eight kills apiece as well, the latter doing so on .412 hitting.
- Freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) totaled 30 assists, seven digs and three blocks.
- The sweep was Valpo’s first in conference play since joining the MVC. 17 matches into the season, the Crusaders have still yet to play a five-set match.
Valpo (9-8, 2-3 MVC) heads to Illinois State Saturday night as it looks to complete the weekend sweep. First serve is set for 7 p.m. The match can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3, with links for the live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.