A hot and humid ARC was the site for a battle in Missouri Valley Conference action Saturday evening, and when the dust settled, the Valpo volleyball team held serve on its home floor, taking down Evansville by a 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23) final for a Homecoming Saturday victory.
How It Happened
- Valpo led for the vast majority of the first set and led by five points at multiple points in the frame. The lead was still four points at 19-15 before Evansville scored six of the next seven to pull ahead, 21-20.
- A kill from fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) pulled the Beacons back even, and sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) went on to serve out the set as Valpo closed the frame on a 5-0 run, finishing it out thanks to a kill by junior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte).
- A five-point lead was again the apex multiple times for Valpo in the second set, the latest coming with an 11-6 advantage. The Purple Aces scored seven of the next nine points to tie things at 13 apiece, and after the teams traded sideouts twice, Evansville went on a 5-1 run to take control, eventually evening the match at a set apiece.
- Valpo erased an early 9-4 lead for Evansville in set three with a five-point spurt before the Purple Aces pulled back out to a couple point advantage, a lead they would maintain as the set approached the late changes.
- Trailing 19-16, the Beacons were finally able to string together points to overtake Evansville. McCarthy started a run of four straight with a kill and then combined with Cooper on a rejection. An Evansville error was followed by another kill from McCarthy as Valpo led 20-19, its first lead since 1-0.
- The Purple Aces responded with the next two points before Valpo answered in the form of a kill and a service ace by freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) to make it 22-21.
- Once again, Evansville scored the next two to go up 23-22 and move within two points of taking the lead in the match, but junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) came up with a big kill to again tie the set at 23-23. Back-to-back errors by the Purple Aces closed out the frame in Valpo’s favor as the Beacons took a 2-1 lead in the match.
- Much like the way the first and second sets went, the fourth set saw Valpo go up by as many as five points in the first half of the frame. Just like those sets, however, Evansville flipped the script, turning a 15-11 Valpo lead into a 22-19 Purple Aces lead late as they scored 11 of 15 points in that stretch.
- A call on Evansville for screening resulted in a key point for Valpo to move within two, but Evansville came back with a kill to make it 23-20. The Beacons sided out with a kill from senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), and Hart followed that up by combining with junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) on a block to move within 23-22.
- The ensuing rally originally had an attack from Hart ruled out, which would have given Evansville set point and the chance to force a decisive fifth set. But Valpo head coach Carin Avery challenged — as this season is the first that the ARC is equipped with the Challenge Review System — that there was a touch at the net, and upon review, a Purple Aces blocker was adjudged to have touched the attack, giving Hart a kill and evening the set at 23-all.
- Following an Evansville timeout, Valpo went right back to the well, again going to Hart for a kill to earn match point at 24-23. It took the Beacons just one contact of the ball to close out the victory, as Ravotto’s serve was good for an ace to end the contest.
Inside the Match
- After being honored prior to the match for breaking the Valpo and MVC career digs records over the last two weekends, fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) took one more step towards the top of the NCAA career digs chart on Saturday. With her second dig of the match, Cookerly moved into second place in NCAA Division I history and now trails only Chattanooga’s Lara Newberry.
- Cookerly closed the match with 17 digs to tie for match-high honors and now has 2,807 career digs.
- Cookerly’s dig total was matched by Ravotto, who tallied 17 digs as well against the most prolific attack in the MVC. The junior delivered four service aces as well, including the match-clincher, to tie her career best in that category.
- Valpo’s middles carried the day on the attack for the Beacons. McCarthy recorded a match-high 18 kills to tie her season high and hit at a .371 clip. She will enter Monday’s matchup with Drake just one kill shy of 1,000 for her career.
- Hart continued her strong play of late as well with 16 kills, tying her career high, on .355 hitting. Over Valpo’s four MVC matches, Hart is averaging 3.87 kills/set on .402 hitting.
- The pair of middles also contributed on the block as well, as McCarthy tied Cooper for match-high honors with five blocks and Hart finished with four blocks.
- Fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) nearly posted a double-double Saturday, finishing the evening with 26 assists and nine digs, while Bulmahn handed out 17 assists.
- Valpo now owns a 12-3 record on the season, the eighth time in Avery’s tenure at Valpo the program has won at least 12 of its first 15 matches.
- After not playing a single four-set match among their 11 non-conference matches, the Beacons have played three four-set matches in their first four conference matches.
Valpo (12-3, 3-1 MVC) closes out its busy first home weekend of the season Monday evening when it hosts Drake at 6 p.m. That match will be available live on ESPN+.