The Valpo volleyball team returned to MVC play Sunday in Normal, Ill. with the first of back-to-back matches at Illinois State, but despite evening the match with a second-set victory, it eventually fell to the host Redbirds by a 3-1 (25-12, 24-26, 25-12, 25-21) final. During the match, senior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) moved into second position in program history and fifth all-time in MVC history in career digs.
How It Happened
- Valpo was within 9-8 early in the first set, but Illinois State scored 16 of the final 20 points of the frame to take the opener. The Brown and Gold were limited to just six kills in the first set.
- In a second set which was tight for the most part, featuring 14 tie scores, the Redbirds earned the largest lead for either side with a four-point spurt which gave them a 17-13 lead.
- It was still a three-point lead for ISU at 20-17 before a kill from junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) was followed by back-to-back service aces by Cookerly to force a Redbird timeout at 20-20.
- The teams split the next six points as it became a virtual race to two at 23-23. A kill by senior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) gave Valpo the first set point of the frame, but an ISU kill forced extra points.
- Hart then teamed up with senior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) on a block to give Valpo a second opportunity to win the set, and this time it took advantage as another kill by Hart evened the match at one set apiece.
- Illinois State controlled the third set from the onset, scoring 10 of the first 12 points en route to taking a 2-1 lead in the match.
- Valpo jumped in front to open the fourth set and led by five points at the halfway point, 13-8.
- The lead was still four at 19-15 following a service ace from freshman Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon), but out of a timeout, the Redbirds started a 10-2 run which closed the match in their favor.
Inside the Match
- Cookerly tied for match-high honors with 23 digs, pushing her career total to 2,329 digs. In the first set, she surpassed Brittany Malicoat for second in program history in the category, and in the third frame, Cookerly pushed past UNI’s Kendyl Sorge for fifth position in MVC history.
- Cookerly was one of five Valpo players to reach double figures in digs. Bulmahn, senior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) and sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) all tallied 14 digs, while junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) picked up 10 digs.
- Bulmahn handed out 32 assists as well to finish with a double-double.
- McCarthy enjoyed a strong match on the attack, hitting .400 with a team-best 11 kills, but was the only Valpo player in double figures in that category.
- Hart added eight kills as Valpo’s middles combined for 19 of the team’s 39 kills. Valpo hit just .139 for the match, while the Redbirds hit .239 with 64 kills.
- Valpo dropped to 0-4 in the first match of MVC series this year. The Brown and Gold earned wins in the second matchup with Loyola and Southern Illinois to earn splits.
- Sunday marked the sixth straight contest in which Valpo dropped the opening set before coming back to take set two.
Valpo (3-6, 2-5 MVC) looks for the split from the Redbirds on Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN3.