For the sixth time this season, the Valpo volleyball team had a match go to a decisive fifth set, and for the sixth time, it was the Beacons standing victorious at the end of the night, as Valpo took down visiting Drake at the ARC Monday evening, 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-9). Early in the first set, fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) reached the 1,000-kill mark for her career.
How It Happened
- Valpo never trailed in the opening set and took control with an early 7-1 run that pushed its lead to 11-4. Included in that spurt was McCarthy’s 1,000th career kill, one of two kills and two blocks she had in the run.
- Drake got no closer than four points the rest of the way as the Beacons took the 1-0 lead in the match.
- Each squad put together a couple of early runs in set two, with Drake coming out of it with a 10-8 edge. The Bulldogs held a narrow advantage through the midway mark of the frame.
- The Beacons rolled off three points in a row — including two kills from junior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) — to tie the frame at 18-all, and after Drake scored the next two, got a kill from McCarthy to move within 20-19. But the Bulldogs scored four of the last five points of the set to even the match at a set apiece.
- A 7-1 run early in the third set featuring two blocks and a kill from McCarthy gave Valpo an 8-4 lead, and it would not relinquish the lead from there.
- Later in the set, leading 14-10, Valpo reeled off five consecutive points — the last two coming on consecutive kills by Cooper — to push its lead to 19-10.
- Every point of that advantage proved necessary, as after the teams traded sideouts, Drake put together seven points in a row to cut the Valpo lead to 20-18. The Beacons scored three of the next four as they tried to regain control, but the Bulldogs answered with three straight of their own to make it 23-22 late.
- Junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) came through with a clutch kill to give Valpo set point at 24-22 before a Drake block brought it again within one point at 24-23. It was junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) who came up with the biggest swing of the frame, converting with a kill on the second set point chance to put Valpo ahead 2-1 in the match.
- Drake never trailed in the fourth set, hitting at a .406 clip as it forced the fifth and final set.
- The key run in the fifth set came with the score tied at 4-4. A kill from Boyer returned the serve to Valpo, and Ravotto stepped back to the service line to serve the remainder of the 5-0 spurt. Boyer had another kill during the run, while freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) punctuated the run with a solo block — just the second of her Valpo career.
- Valpo never let Drake any closer than three points the rest of the way as it held the Bulldogs to -.036 hitting in the final set. The Beacons closed the match by scoring four of the final five points, fittingly capped by a big block from McCarthy and Cooper.
Inside the Match
- Valpo improved to 6-0 on the season in five-set matches with Monday’s win, nearly half of its 13 wins overall this year. The five-set match was the Beacons’ first in MVC play, however.
- Dating back to last season, Valpo has now won nine consecutive five-set matches.
- With the win, Valpo improved to 4-1 in MVC play this season to match its best conference start through five matches since joining the Valley (2018).
- It was a balanced offensive attack for the Beacons on Monday, led by 15 kills from McCarthy. Her first kill of the night made her the 19th player in program history to reach the 1,000-kill mark for her career.
- Boyer came up with a career-high 14 kills from the right side, while senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ind./Lincoln-Way East) — named the MVC Player of the Week earlier in the day — notched 12 kills and Swistek posted a season-best 11.
- Cooper narrowly missed making it five Valpo players in double figures in kills, but did end up with a season-high nine kills and was errorless on the attack, hitting .429.
- McCarthy and Cooper both did standout work defensively as well. McCarthy tied for match-high honors with a season-best eight blocks, giving her 385 career rejections — just three shy of sixth place in the Valpo record book. Meanwhile, Cooper was in on six blocks to tie her season best.
- Fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 27 assists to end the night with an even 4,200 assists for her career, just 56 away from cracking the top-20 in MVC history. Sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) led all players with 29 assists.
- After setting new milestones seemingly every time out, fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) had to settle for just leading all players in digs on Monday, posting 26 digs. She got plenty of help in the back row from Ravotto, who had another stellar match defensively with 25 digs.
- Swistek and Anderson each finished the victory with double-doubles as they posted 14 and 10 digs, respectively.
- Valpo, which entered the day ranked 50th nationally in the NCAA’s first RPI release, closed out a stretch which saw it win three matches in four days over three teams which entered the ARC with a combined 26-8 record this season.
Valpo (13-3, 4-1 MVC) will try to make it four wins in a row when it heads up to Chicago to face travel partner Loyola on Friday evening. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.