The Valpo volleyball team jumped out to a two-set lead over visiting Drake Monday evening at the ARC, but the Bulldogs claimed the next two sets to force a decisive fifth set and then prevailed in extra points as Valpo fell 3-2 (24-26, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18, 18-16). The night was highlighted by a 36-dig effort from junior libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg).
How It Happened
- A 5-0 run gave Valpo a 20-15 lead late in set one, and it looked like the Brown and Gold would easily claim the opener as they earned set point at 24-20.
- Drake reeled off the next four points, however, to force extra points at 24-all. Junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) stopped the Bulldog run with a kill, and Valpo closed out the frame on its fifth set point chance thanks to a block from junior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) and sophomore Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East).
- Drake led 17-15 in set two after a three-point spurt, but Valpo came back with four of the next five points – two of which came on consecutive kills from junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) – to pull ahead 19-18.
- Drake responded with three of the next four points to regain the advantage at 21-20 before Valpo picked up three straight blocks to take control, with Hart being in on all three rejections. A kill for Drake brought it back within 23-22, but Cummings answered with a kill to give Valpo set point and fittingly, Hart combined Cummings on yet another block to close the second set and give Valpo a 2-0 lead.
- A four-point run midway through the third set, which included a pair of kills from Hart, helped Valpo erase nearly all of a deficit as it closed to within 13-12. The Bulldogs came back with four straight points of their own, though, and Valpo would get no closer than three points the rest of the third set.
- An early four-point spurt gave Drake the lead for good in the fourth set. Valpo closed to within one point at 15-14 following a service ace from freshman Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and was still within two at 18-16 before the Bulldogs forced a fifth set by closing the fourth on a 7-2 run.
- Valpo led throughout the first half of set five, hitting the changeover with an 8-6 advantage, and then continued to extend its lead. McCarthy tallied a pair of kills and two blocks during an 8-3 run, which closed with a Hart kill to give Valpo match point at 14-9.
- Drake stayed alive with five straight points, however, getting two kills from Gillian Gergen and a pair of aces from Emily Plock during the five-point spurt. The second Plock ace erased the final match point and forced extra points at 14-14.
- A four-hit violation on Drake gave Valpo one more match point opportunity at 15-14, but a service error made it 15-all. Drake earned its first match point chance at 16-15 after an ace before Cummings registered a kill to keep Valpo alive. The Bulldogs came back with a kill of their own, however, to take the 17-16 lead and closed the set and the match courtesy of a Valpo attack error.
Inside the Match
- Valpo’s top two attackers on Monday set or matched career highs in the kills category. Cummings led the way, tying for match-high honors with her 21 kills on .255 hitting. The junior set a career best by four kills in the category and also set Valpo’s season-high single-match kills total as well.
- Defensively, Cummings was in on five blocks to tie her career high in that category too.
- Meanwhile, McCarthy matched her career best, set earlier this season, by putting down 18 kills on .389 hitting. The junior also tied for team-high honors with seven blocks Monday.
- In the back row, Cookerly stood out, as she finished the night with 36 digs. The second-best effort of her career, Cookerly moved into a tie for third for digs in a five-set match in the 25-point era in Valpo’s record book.
- Cookerly’s back row production led the way as Valpo tallied a season-high 109 digs, surpassing its previous high this year by 14 digs. It was Valpo’s highest digs total since recording 110 digs against McNeese on Sept. 15, 2007, and ranks fifth in a five-set match in the 25-point era.
- Cookerly was one of five Valpo players to finish the night with at least 10 digs. Junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./East Chicago) posted 20 digs to go with 54 assists and four blocks.
- Ravotto came up just one shy of her career best in the category with 16 digs. Sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) registered 13 digs and 12 kills, while junior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) closed out the quintet in double figures with 12 digs.
- Hart continued her strong conference campaign on the block with seven rejections on Monday to tie McCarthy for team-high honors. The middle duo led the way as Valpo registered 14 blocks as a team, its second-highest total of the year.
- Monday’s contest is just the third time in 24 matches this season that Valpo has gone the full five sets.
- Drake’s win Monday marks just the seventh instance in head coach Carin Avery’s 18 years at the helm that the Crusaders have lost a match in five sets after leading 2-0.
Valpo (8-16, 3-7 MVC) continues conference play at home this coming weekend with its fellow Indiana institutions. The weekend opens Friday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. against Indiana State, a match which can be seen live on ESPN3.