The Valpo volleyball team gave #13 Notre Dame all it could handle in a non-conference road matchup on Thursday afternoon, winning back-to-back sets after dropping the first set, but in the end, it was the Fighting Irish who earned a 3-2 (25-14, 19-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-10) victory. Senior libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) tallied 40 digs, one of the top efforts in the category in the nation this season and tied for the most in a five-set match in program history.
How It Happened
- Notre Dame took the opening set, pulling away from a 6-6 tie with a 5-0 run to take the lead for good and never looking back from there.
- Valpo came back and led start to finish in the second set, gaining separation with a four-point spurt which took an 8-6 lead to 12-6. Notre Dame got no closer than five points the rest of the way as the Brown and Gold evened up the match.
- The offenses proved to be clicking in the third set as Valpo and Notre Dame vied for control of the match, as the two squads combined for 36 kills and just seven attack errors in the frame.
- The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 6-3 lead before the Brown and Gold scored four straight, and later in the set, Valpo erased a 15-11 Notre Dame advantage with another four-point spurt.
- Notre Dame again tried to take control, pulling ahead 18-16, but again Valpo was there with another 4-0 run, this time to give it a 20-18 lead. Junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) tallied back-to-back kills during the spurt, while junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) had a kill as well.
- The teams traded sideouts for the next three points before senior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) picked up kills on consecutive points to push the lead to 23-20. Cookerly followed with a service ace to give Valpo set point, and after ND held off two set point chances, Valpo closed out the third set with a kill from Bulmahn.
- The fourth set was a tug of war throughout, as it featured 16 ties and 10 lead changes. With the momentum on its side after winning the third set, Valpo kicked things off with a 4-1 run, but the Fighting Irish came back with four straight points.
- That started a stretch of 27 consecutive serves in which neither team held more than a one-point lead. The next multi-point advantage came during a 4-0 Notre Dame run which gave it a 19-16 lead.
- Back-to-back points for Valpo again cut the deficit to one point before the Irish reeled off three straight to go up 22-18.
- But Valpo continued to fight. A kill from Hart was followed by an ND attack error, and Bulmahn then picked up another kill to cut the lead to 22-21.
- The Irish got a kill to make it 23-21, but an ND error and a block by senior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) evened up the set at 23-all.
- It looked like Valpo had earned match point at 24-23, but an attack by the Irish which was originally ruled to have landed long was challenged and the call was reversed to call it in, giving ND set point at 24-23. A kill by Bulmahn forced extra points, but the Fighting Irish scored the next two points to force the fifth set.
- With the score tied 4-4 in the final set, Notre Dame went on a 7-2 run to take an 11-6 lead. Valpo rallied with four straight — including kills from sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Grant — to close to within 11-10, but the Fighting Irish closed the match with four straight points.
Inside the Match
- Valpo was in search of its first-ever win over a nationally-ranked program, as well as its third win over Notre Dame in the tenure of head coach Carin Avery.
- The match was the second and final non-conference matchup of the season for Valpo. Meanwhile, Notre Dame was returning to action after posting a 6-1 record in the fall. All seven of the Fighting Irish’s fall matches and the remainder of their spring schedule are ACC contests.
- Cookerly continues to make her mark on the Valpo record books, this time with a 40-dig performance against the Fighting Irish. The 40 digs are the most in a five-set match in program history and tied for the second-most digs in any length match.
- Cookerly now owns two of the three efforts of 40-plus digs in program history. Ironically, her program record 43-dig effort came in August 2017 as a freshman against the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion.
- The 40 digs are the second-most by any D-I player this season.
- The senior raced right past the 2,300-dig mark for her career on Thursday, finishing the afternoon with 2,306 career digs. She is now just three digs away from second place in program history, where she would surpass Brittany Malicoat, and 17 away from fifth place in MVC history, poised to pass UNI’s Kendyl Sorge.
- Combined with her 32-dig effort versus Southern Illinois in Monday’s win, Cookerly has 72 digs in her last two matches — the second-most in a two-match stretch in program history. Malicoat combined for 76 digs — 39 digs against Youngstown State and 37 at Green Bay — in consecutive matches in October 2007.
- Cookerly had plenty of help on the back line Thursday, as Valpo tallied 109 team digs — tied for fifth-most in a five-set match in the 25-point era in the program’s record book.
- Grant and freshman Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered 19 digs apiece as part of their respective double-doubles. Grant totaled 15 kills to go with her 19 digs, while Bulmahn dished out 50 assists.
- Playing just minutes from home, Ravotto racked up 16 digs to go along with five kills and three service aces.
- Jaclyn Bulmahn led the Brown and Gold in kills for the fifth straight match, finishing with 17 terminations, while Hart notched 10 kills for her sixth consecutive match in double digits in the category.
- Offensively, Valpo’s 230 total attacks were tied for third in program history in the 25-point era.
- Sophomore Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) led the way defensively at the net with five blocks.
Valpo (3-5, 2-4 MVC) returns to conference play this weekend with matches Sunday and Monday at Illinois State. Both contests are slated for a 4 p.m. first serve and will be broadcast on ESPN3.