The Valpo volleyball team set a slew of new career highs on Friday night in a Missouri Valley Conference battle at Evansville, but in the end, the Purple Aces edged out Valpo by a 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-9) final.
How It Happened
- It was all Evansville early in the match, as the Purple Aces jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead in the opening set.
- Valpo rallied back to within three points at 19-16, but Evansville would score five of the next six to seemingly secure the opener.
- But facing numerous set points at 24-17, Valpo battled back. Valpo held off six set point chances from the Purple Aces, including two kills apiece by junior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) and sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and an ace during a great service run from junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg), but with the lead cut to 24-23, Evansville finally claimed the opener thanks to a Valpo error.
- Valpo would even the match thanks in large part to its defense, limiting Evansville to .023 hitting in the second set as it tied the match at a set apiece.
- Valpo took the second set lead for good thanks to a three-point spurt at 8-8, and then created a cushion with a 6-0 run at 13-11 which included a pair of kills from junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon).
- The third set looked like it would be all Evansville early, as the Purple Aces started out with a 10-3 lead for the second time in three frames.
- Valpo rallied quickly, however, scoring seven of the next eight points to close to within one point. The Crusaders then tied the score on four separate occasions before finally taking a 22-21 lead on consecutive kills from sophomore Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton).
- But following an Evansville timeout, the Purple Aces scored the final four points of the set to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- The fourth set turned out to be basically an inverse of the third set. It was Valpo jumping to an early 10-4 lead, and Evansville rallying with five straight to get right back into the frame.
- Evansville would tie the set just once, however, evening things up at 15 apiece before Valpo reeled off four consecutive points, including two kills from Grant. The Purple Aces rallied to within 21-20, but after the teams traded four consecutive sideouts to make it 23-22, Hart came up with a kill to give Valpo set point and an Evansville error sent the match to a decisive fifth set.
- Valpo scored consecutive points on kills by Bulmahn and Grant following a set-opening service error to lead 2-1 early in the final frame, but Evansville scored the next six to take control. Valpo would move to within two points four times, but could get no closer as the Purple Aces defended their home court with the win.
Inside the Match
- Career highs littered Valpo’s side of the final box score on Friday, as seven different players combined to set eight new bests.
- Four of the eight career highs came in the blocks column, as Valpo finished with 18 rejections. The 18 blocks tied for the second-most by a Valpo team in a five-set match in the 25-point era, tied for fourth-most in a five-set match overall in program history, and were the most by a Crusader squad since the 2016 team recorded 20.5 blocks at Milwaukee on Oct. 15, 2016.
- Leading the way in blocks Friday was McCarthy, who reached double figures in the category for the first time in her career as she tallied 10 rejections. The 10 blocks match the most by a Valpo player since November of 2012, and are tied for second-most in a five-set match by a Crusader in the 25-point era.
- Junior setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) enjoyed the best match of her career defensively at the net with a career-high nine blocks, while Hart tallied eight blocks to easily surpass her previous career high of five and Grant added a career-best three rejections.
- Cummings matched her season high for blocks as well, finishing with four blocks.
- Anderson not only set a career high for blocks, she also finished with a career-best 58 assists offensively, edging out her previous high in the category. Her 58 assists are tied for fifth-most in a five-set match by a Valpo player in the 25-point era.
- It was a balanced offensive effort that Anderson ran on Friday evening, as five different Valpo players finished with at least 10 kills. Ironically, the last time a Valpo player had more assists than Anderson’s 58 on Friday was also the last time five attackers reached double figures in kills – Oct. 19, 2014 against North Dakota State, when Kelsey Berrington finished with 64 assists.
- One of Valpo’s attackers set a career high Friday, as Bulmahn finished with 15 kills on .316 hitting to zoom past her previous best of 12 kills. Cummings and Hart both posted season bests with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, the latter doing so on .368 hitting.
- Grant led Valpo with 16 kills, while McCarthy tallied 11 kills as well for her first career double-double and to round out the quintet with double-digit kill totals.
- In the back row, two more career highs were set. Junior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) shattered her previous best of 16 digs, finishing with 24 digs, one shy of Cookerly’s team-best 25. Senior Brooke Westphal (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City [Arizona St./South Florida St.]) doubled her Valpo best in the category as well, tallying 10 digs.
- Valpo finished with its highest number of kills (67) and digs (95) since Nov. 2 of last season against Loyola.
- The defeat was Valpo’s first against the Purple Aces since joining the MVC, but came against a much-improved Evansville squad which entered the match at 11-3 on the year and is now a perfect 6-0 at home this season.
Valpo (5-12, 0-3 MVC) will aim at a split of the Indiana road trip Saturday at Indiana State. First serve is slated for 4 p.m. CT, and the match can be seen live on ESPN3.