The Valpo volleyball team made quick work of visiting UNI at the ARC Monday afternoon, defeating the Panthers in straight sets (25-15, 25-18, 27-25) to complete the weekend sweep of the two-match series. Senior libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) checked off yet another accomplishment in her sterling career, cracking the NCAA Division I top-25 chart for career digs.
How It Happened
- The battle for control early in set one eventually went to Valpo, as the Brown and Gold put together a 7-1 run — including two kills from senior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) — to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 13-8 lead.
- UNI pulled to within four points twice in the second half of the set, but got no closer as Valpo limited the Panthers to -.049 hitting in the first frame. A kill by junior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) on Valpo’s second set point chance closed out the opener in its favor.
- The second set featured 10 ties and four lead changes. Approaching the midway point of the frame, it was UNI taking the lead, but each time it tried to push the advantage past one point, Valpo responded.
- Finally, trailing 15-14, a kill from Bulmahn returned the serve to Valpo and sophomore Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) served four points in a row, including a service ace and consecutive kills from junior Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne), as Valpo pulled out to a 19-15 lead.
- UNI responded with the next two points, but Valpo closed the set on a 6-1 run — capped by a kill by senior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) — to take the two-set lead in the match.
- Another tight frame ensued as the third set went back and forth, with 11 ties and six lead changes. The largest lead for either side was three points as Valpo reached 20 first, leading 20-18 after a solo block from Bulmahn.
- A service error cut Valpo’s lead to one, but Valpo earned the serve back thanks to a kill from sophomore Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia). Grant tallied a kill, and Hart recorded back-to-back terminations as Valpo earned match point at 24-19.
- It wouldn’t be that easy to close the match, however, as UNI came back with six straight points — three blocks, two Valpo attack errors and a kill — to not only hold off five consecutive match points, but to earn its own set point at 25-24.
- The next two points went Valpo’s way, however, as the Panthers had consecutive sets outside the antenna unable to be kept in play. With its sixth match point chance at 26-25, Valpo came through, getting a solo block from McCarthy to close out the sweep.
Inside the Match
- After entering the weekend with an 0-14 record in the all-time series with UNI, Valpo earned the two-match series sweep over the Panthers — its second MVC series sweep of the season.
- Valpo has now won six of its last seven matches dating back to Feb. 22.
- Monday marked the first three-set win by an MVC program over UNI in regular season conference play since Nov. 11, 2017.
- With her second dig of the match, Cookerly moved into the top-25 in NCAA Division I history in career digs. She closed the match with 2,439 digs, putting her in 23rd position on the all-time chart — just 17 away from 19th
- Despite her move up the NCAA career chart Monday, it was a quiet match for Cookerly, who tallied just 11 digs as UNI often hit away from her. The 11 digs are her lowest total for a match since picking up 11 digs against Loyola on Nov. 25, 2019.
- But as the Brown and Gold have shown time and time again, they have strength across their entire back row. Ravotto led all players with 13 digs in the win, while Grant picked up 11 digs and Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) 10 as Valpo limited UNI to .058 hitting for the match.
- Meanwhile, Valpo hit at a .221 clip over the three sets, committing just six unforced attack errors in the sweep. Included in that was a .500 hitting percentage [18-1-34] in the second set, the team’s best single-set hitting percentage of the year.
- Grant led the way offensively with 11 kills, in the process recording her 10th double-double of the season.
- Jaclyn Bulmahn notched nine kills without an attack error, hitting .409, while Hart posted nine kills as well and Boyer added seven.
- Victoria Bulmahn handed out 29 assists and finished with her 12th double-double of the year. Cookerly recorded eight assists as well on just 17 set attempts.
Valpo (9-7, 8-6 MVC) closes out its home slate with a pair of matches next week against Indiana State, starting Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The match will be broadcast on The Valley on ESPN.