Thrilling late-set runs gave the Valpo volleyball team a two-set advantage over visiting Southern Illinois Saturday evening at the ARC, and Valpo would close out its third consecutive sweep as it downed the Salukis 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-19).
How It Happened
- The start of the opening set was maybe a foreshadowing of what was to come late in the first two frames, as Valpo opened the match with five of the first six points.
- SIU battled back, and eventually claimed its first lead of the match at 13-12 in the opener.
- The Salukis still led by one at 15-14 before Valpo rattled off a 10-1 run to take control. Junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) started the run with a kill and tallied a pair of service aces during a five-point service run.
- Sophomore Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) totaled three blocks and two kills during the run as well, including combining with junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) on the rejection which brought Valpo to the verge of winning the opener. An SIU service error would give Valpo the set on its second set point chance.
- The second set was back-and-forth early on, but it appeared that Southern Illinois had busted it open with an 8-2 run, which extended a 10-9 advantage to 18-11.
- Hart came up with a kill to stem the tide, and as it turned out, crucially rotated McCarthy into the front row. Hart’s kill opened up a 14-1 run for Valpo to close out the second set, during which McCarthy matched the effort of Hart from the opening set, picking up three blocks and two kills.
- One of McCarthy’s kills during the run gave Valpo set point against a stunned SIU squad, and the Crusaders claimed the 2-0 lead in the match on a service ace by senior Brooke Westphal (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City [Arizona St./South Florida St.]).
- The third set proved to not be quite as dramatic as the first two frames, but it didn’t lack for a big run. Facing a 9-7 deficit, Valpo reeled off 11 of the next 13 points to run out to an 18-11 lead. Hart and juniors Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) and Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) all had two kills apiece during the spurt.
- SIU responded with the next four points to move within 18-15, but Valpo quickly dissuaded the notion that the Salukis would extend the match as it tallied four straight points of its own to extend the lead back to seven points. Valpo earned match point at 24-18, and a Hart kill closed out the sweep on the Brown and Gold’s second chance to end the match.
Inside the Match
- Saturday’s sweep was not only Valpo’s third consecutive win to move back to .500 in MVC play, but also its third straight sweep dating back to last Saturday at Indiana State.
- This marks just the second time in the last four years that Valpo has swept three consecutive conference opponents. Last season, the Crusaders picked up four straight sweeps against MVC foes Sept. 21-28.
- Much as they did in last Saturday’s sweep at Indiana State, Valpo’s middles carried the day offensively this Saturday.
- McCarthy led the way with a match-high 12 kills on .632 hitting, as she didn’t commit a single attack error among her 19 swings. The .632 hitting percentage was a career best and a Valpo season best, and the best by a Valpo attacker since Sydney Bronner hit .667 on Aug. 24 last year against Saint Francis.
- Hart nearly matched McCarthy in the kills column, picking up 11 kills to match her season high while hitting .429 and also leading all players with four blocks.
- Hart has now been in double figures in kills in three of Valpo’s last four matches after tallying 10 or more kills just twice last season.
- Anderson posted her fourth consecutive double-double as she finished the win with 29 assists and 13 digs, while junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led all players with 21 digs – the third time in the last four matches she has surpassed 20 digs.
- Valpo held a 41-32 advantage in kills over SIU on Saturday and hit .235 versus just .078 hitting for the Salukis.
- This weekend featured the two lowest hitting percentages by Valpo opponents this year, as the Valpo defense limited SIU to .078 hitting less than 24 hours after holding Missouri State to .068 hitting.
Valpo (8-12, 3-3 MVC) returns to road action next weekend with the Bradley/Illinois State road swing, starting at Bradley Friday evening at 6 p.m. Both matches next weekend will be carried on ESPN3.