No player in Valpo volleyball history has combined prolificacy and efficiency on the attack in a single match as well as junior middle hitter Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) did in a career performance Friday night at Southern Illinois, as Valpo rallied for a key 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 17-25, 25-12, 15-11) victory over the Salukis.
How It Happened
- It was a slow start to the match for Valpo, as three early service errors helped stake SIU to an 11-6 advantage in set one.
- Valpo battled back with six of the next eight points, getting kills from four different players, to close to within 13-12. The Brown and Gold knocked on the doorstep of taking the lead before a four-point spurt, including two kills from junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon), turned a 16-14 deficit into an 18-16 lead.
- SIU would tie the opening set at 18-18, 19-19, and 20-20, but each time Valpo kept the Salukis from regaining the outright lead. Leading 22-21, McCarthy picked up back-to-back kills to give Valpo set point, and an SIU error closed out the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- The second set turned out to be a tremendous offensive duel between the two squads, as both teams hit better than .400 and tallied 19 kills apiece in a frame which featured 16 ties and nine lead changes. McCarthy picked up 11 of her kills in the second set alone.
- SIU held a 20-17 lead before Valpo scored five of the next six points – all of which came courtesy of McCarthy kills – to turn the tables and pull ahead, 22-21.
- SIU responded with a kill and a service ace to go up 23-22 before another McCarthy termination tied the set at 23 apiece. But the Salukis closed out the frame with back-to-back kills to even the match at a set apiece.
- For as tight a battle as the second set was, the next two frames were one-sided in opposite directions. SIU scored the first five points of the third set and never allowed Valpo to get any closer than two points from there, holding the Crusaders to .045 hitting while hitting .270 itself in claiming a 2-1 lead in the match.
- Valpo turned the tables in the fourth set though, hitting .387 with 15 kills while limiting SIU to seven kills on .100 hitting as it cruised to the set victory.
- An 8-0 run on the serve of junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) extended a 7-5 lead to 15-5 and put Valpo in control of the fourth frame. The Brown and Gold eventually closed the set with five straight points with freshman Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) serving, the last of which came thanks to a kill by freshman Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) to force the decisive fifth set.
- The fifth set turned out to be a frame of mini-runs. SIU scored three of the first four points before Valpo rattled off three straight – including a kill and an ace by McCarthy – to go up 4-3.
- The Salukis scored the next two to make it 5-4 before Valpo came back with four of the next five points – two of which came courtesy of Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) kills – to take an 8-6 lead at the changeover.
- With the changeover seemed to be a change of momentum, as SIU turned the tables on Valpo with four straight points to go up 10-8. But a service error returned the serve to the Crusaders, and again it was Cookerly on the serve making the difference. The junior sandwiched a pair of Saluki attack errors with a pair of aces to push Valpo back in front, 13-10.
- A service error briefly cut the Valpo advantage to two points, but McCarthy picked up the kill on the penultimate point of the match, and then fittingly, it was the junior capping the match with a thunderous termination of an overpass to cap the rally for the victory.
Inside the Match
- McCarthy needed just 43 swings to end the match with a career-high 25 kills, tied for the second-most kills in a five-set match in the 25-point era.
- The junior’s .512 hitting percentage ranks third in a five-set match in the 25-point era, and fourth overall in program history in a five-set match.
- No player in Valpo Volleyball history has tallied 25-plus kills and posted as high a hitting percentage as McCarthy did on Friday.
- McCarthy’s career night smashed her previous career high of 18 kills, and the junior also set a new personal best with three service aces.
- McCarthy tallied five kills in the first set and the aforementioned 11 kills in the second frame and did not commit an attack error in either set. Then, in the decisive fifth set, McCarthy posted three kills on six swings without an error.
- McCarthy led the way as Valpo hit .267 with 70 kills over the five sets. The Crusaders’ outside hitters joined her in double figures in kills, as Grant posted 12 kills on .227 hitting to go with 12 digs and Bulmahn finished with 11 kills on .235 hitting.
- The outsides stepped up when they were needed most over the final two sets, as neither committed an attack error as Valpo completed the comeback. Grant registered seven kills on 16 swings, while Bulmahn chipped in five kills on 13 swings.
- Junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out a match-best 55 assists and finished with a double-double as she also tallied 14 digs. With her 26th assist of the match, Anderson surpassed Kim Bukowski for fourth in program history in career assists, as she closed the contest with 3,573 career assists.
- Cookerly rebounded from a slow start on the service line with the key runs in the fourth and fifth sets, and the junior matched her career high with three aces. She also finished with a match-high 25 digs to bump her career total to 1,923 digs, just 35 shy of fourth place in program history.
- Ravotto capped the quartet of Valpo players in double figures in digs with a 16-dig performance, just one shy of her season high.
- Friday’s win was Valpo’s first in a five-set match this year, as the Crusaders had previously dropped their first three five-set affairs. It also marked the program’s fifth consecutive win over Southern Illinois.
Valpo (11-16, 6-7 MVC) turns around for the back end of a tough road trip, facing another key battle in the conference standings on Saturday as it plays at Missouri State. First serve is slated for 5 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.