The Valparaiso University volleyball team bounced back from a hard-fought loss on Friday night in strong fashion, trailing just once in the entire match in a three-set sweep (25-16, 25-18, 25-20) at Drake Saturday evening.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a strong start Saturday, jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead in the opening set as senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) had two kills and a block early.
- The Brown and Gold led by eight for the first time following a four-point spurt – which included a kill and two blocks from freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) – which pushed their advantage to 14-6.
- Valpo cruised to the set win from that point, as Drake scored consecutive points on just two occasions in the opening set.
- Another 6-2 lead in the second set forced an early Drake timeout. The Bulldogs would rally, eventually tying the set at 12-all, and after Valpo extended its advantage to 15-12, Drake scored three of the next four to close to within 16-15.
- Valpo rattled off the next three points, however, to add cushion to its lead. Fittingly, after starting the set with six of the first eight points, Valpo closed it the same way, ending the closing 9-3 run with six of the final eight points – the last coming on a kill from senior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) to give it a 2-0 lead in the match.
- Valpo trailed for the first and only time on Saturday following a Drake service ace on the first point of the third set, but responded with the next three points. Tied at 4-4, Valpo would score 12 of the next 17 points to go ahead 16-9.
- Twice, Drake would rally and force Valpo timeouts. Leading 18-11, Valpo surrendered four straight points to the Bulldogs. Then, after pushing an 18-15 lead to 21-15 with three consecutive points, the Brown and Gold watched Drake reel off the next four points to close to within 21-19.
- Out of Valpo’s second timeout of the set, it regained the serve on a Drake service error, kicking off a 4-1 stretch to close out the sweep.
Inside the Match
- Valpo improved to 8-4 in Missouri Valley Conference play this season with the win, matching its conference win total from last season with six conference matches remaining in the regular season.
- After being swept by Drake in the first MVC matchup between the two teams last season, Valpo has now won nine consecutive sets from the Bulldogs, including back-to-back sweeps in Des Moines.
- Seven of Valpo’s 12 MVC matches to date have ended in three sets, with Valpo owning a 6-1 record in sweeps.
- Playing with just one middle in the lineup for all but two points on Saturday, Valpo again had players step up on both sides of the ball. Offensively, senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) led the way with 13 kills on .324 hitting, as she committed just one attack error in her 37 swings.
- After three straight matches where sophomore right side Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) paced Valpo in kills, it was the senior right side in Zaleski who had a strong match on Saturday. The senior tallied 10 kills on .350 hitting and also added a trio of blocks.
- Defensively, Valpo’s lone middle in Hart enjoyed her best output of the year, leading all players with a season-best five blocks.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 35 assists in the sweep and also put down three kills on just four attacks.
- Ketcham tied for match-high honors with sophomore libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg), as the duo tallied 18 digs apiece. Drake hit just .093 in the match and Valpo out-killed the Bulldogs, 46-31.
Valpo (21-6, 8-4 MVC) faces a quick turnaround for a 6 p.m. MVC match on Monday night at the ARC against Missouri State. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.