The Valpo volleyball team used a total team effort to keep its momentum from last weekend rolling into this weekend, as 14 players saw action in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-18) sweep of Youngstown State Friday afternoon in the Beacon’s opener at Toledo’s Blue & Gold Invitational. The win is Valpo’s fifth in a row.
How It Happened
- After giving up the first three points of the match, Valpo took control by coming back with nine of the next 11 points to take a 9-5 lead.
- With the advantage at 12-10, junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) rattled off four consecutive kills to spark a 13-5 close to the set as Valpo took the opener.
- The start of the second set was all Beacons, as Valpo reeled off the first seven points of the set — three of which were courtesy of kills from junior Gretchen Kuckkan (Lafayette, Ind./Central Catholic [Indiana State]) — to take a quick lead.
- YSU got back to within three points at 16-13, but Valpo scored the next three to push the lead back to six points and eventually capped the set with a 5-0 spurt to take the 2-0 lead in the match.
- The third set saw the Penguins jump out to a quick 8-3 advantage. It took Valpo until just 13-13 to even things back up, however, as it scored 10 of the next 15 points.
- Leading by one at 16-15, the Beacons gained some separation with three consecutive points, including a kill and a service ace from Ravotto. YSU sided out to move to within 19-16, but Valpo responded with five more in a row to earn match point and closed the sweep on its third opportunity with a Kuckkan kill.
Inside the Match
- Valpo has now won five consecutive matches dating back to the opening weekend of play. The five-match winning streak is the program’s longest since rolling off 10 straight wins in September 2018.
- This was the 37th meeting all-time between Valpo and YSU, but the first as non-conference foes. Valpo holds a commanding 29-8 lead in the all-time series.
- The Beacons hit at a season-best .256 clip Friday and held YSU to .117 hitting, out-digging the Penguins, 76-63.
- The story on the back line was libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg), who tallied 30 digs over the three sets — a career best in a sweep — and added three service aces as well. 15 of Cookerly’s digs came in the first set alone.
- Cookerly’s 30 digs are tied for fourth-most in a three-set match in program history.
- Cookerly moved into ninth place in NCAA history in career digs early in the second set and enters Saturday’s pair of matches with 2,670 career digs — just 12 digs shy of eighth place in NCAA history and second place in MVC history. She is also just 24 digs from seventh and 37 from sixth.
- Freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) reached double figures in digs for the second time this year, picking up 12 digs, while Ravotto recorded 10 digs to go with seven kills.
- The story offensively was the balance of the Valpo attack. Kuckkan was the only Beacon to tally more than seven kills, as she hit .346 with 12 kills in the sweep.
- Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) hit better than .500 for the third time in the last four matches, putting down seven kills on just 12 swings for a .583 hitting percentage. She also added a team-high three blocks.
- 12 of Valpo’s 14 players who saw action on Friday picked up at least one kill.
- Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) dished out 20 assists and Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) racked up 13 assists as the Valpo setters paced the offense to its best hitting percentage of the season.
Valpo (6-1) has its sights set on a second tournament championship in as many weekends as it takes to the court for a pair of matches on Saturday. The Beacons face host Toledo at 11 a.m. CT before wrapping action against South Dakota State at 3:30 p.m. CT. Both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3, and live stats for both will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.