The Valparaiso University volleyball team faced its strongest test of the 2018 season on Tuesday evening in Ann Arbor, Mich., battling gamely but falling in straight sets (25-19, 25-13, 25-20) to host Michigan.
How It Happened
- After Valpo led briefly early in the first set, a 6-0 run gave the Maize and Blue a 9-4 advantage. While Valpo would never tie the score again in the frame, it fought back to within one point on a number of occasions, and late in the set, got within 21-19 following consecutive kills from senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and sophomore Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon). But Michigan would score the final four points of the set to claim the opener.
- Michigan’s defense limited Valpo to just five kills and a negative hitting percentage in the second set as the Wolverines led nearly start-to-finish to go ahead two sets to none.
- Valpo bounced back in the third set with its best single-set hitting percentage of the night, swinging at a .217 clip, but unfortunately for the Brown and Gold, Michigan hit .467 in the final frame. It looked like the Wolverines might close out the match with ease at 23-16, but Valpo put together four straight points – including two kills by sophomore Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) – to pull to within 23-20 and force a Michigan timeout. But out of the stoppage, back-to-back points closed out the sweep in the Wolverines’ favor.
Inside the Match
- Tuesday’s matchup was just Valpo’s second against a Big Ten squad in the last five years, but did mark the fourth time in the last two seasons the Brown and Gold had faced a nationally ranked team, as Valpo took on three top-25 matchups in MVC play last season.
- Cummings enjoyed a strong match off the bench, posting seven kills on just 12 swings without an error to finish the match at a .583 clip on the attack.
- Fellow sophomore Bulmahn paced Valpo on offense with a career-best nine kills, hitting .273.
- Michigan’s strong offensive attack (47 kills on .363 hitting) limited Valpo to just 27 digs for the match. Sophomore libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) was held to a career low-tying six digs over the three sets.
- Tuesday’s loss snapped Valpo’s six-match winning streak, which was its longest since opening the 2015 campaign with nine straight wins.
Valpo (6-2) heads out west to Colorado for the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic, hosted by Air Force. The three-match tournament gets underway for Valpo against the hosts on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT.