It went right down to the wire, but for the first time in seven five-set matches this season, the Valpo volleyball team came out on the wrong end of the decisive fifth frame, as host Illinois State earned a 3-2 (25-19, 29-31, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13) win Saturday evening. During the match, fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) moved into the top-20 in Missouri Valley Conference history in career assists.
How It Happened
- Valpo scored the first point of the fifth set before the Redbirds scored five of the next six to take a 5-2 lead and force a Valpo timeout. Out of the stoppage, the two sides traded sideouts before the Beacons tallied three straight points — the final two coming on kills by Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) — to force an ISU timeout at 6-6.
- The Redbirds came out of the break with three consecutive points of their own as Valpo took a timeout at 9-6. But again, the stoppage seemed to shift momentum, as Illinois State took its final timeout after Valpo scored three of the next four to move within 10-9.
- With both teams’ allotment of timeouts erased, Boyer notched another kill to tie the frame at 10-all. An ISU kill was followed by a Redbird error to make it 11-11, and fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) followed with a kill to give Valpo the lead at 12-11, its first advantage since 1-0.
- A service error and an ISU kill returned the lead to the Redbirds at 13-12, but the hosts followed with a service error of their own to make it a race to two at 13-13. ISU came out on top, though, as a Valpo attack error and an ISU kill closed the match.
- An 8-0 run for the Redbirds early in the first set gave them control, as they led 14-4 and their lead never fell under five points the rest of the way.
- In sharp contrast to the way the first set went, the second set featured 11 ties and five lead changes and went deep into extra points. It looked like Valpo had a path to the win leading 21-18 before the Redbirds scored five in a row to make it 23-21 ISU.
- Valpo came back with three straight points, the last coming on a kill from senior middle Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), to earn its first set point at 24-23.
- Each of the Beacons’ first five set point opportunities were thwarted by the Redbirds, while Valpo held off an ISU set point chance at 28-27. Finally, leading 30-29, Valpo got a solo block from McCarthy on an attempted setter dump to even the match at one set apiece.
- The third set featured a number of spurts from each side, but it was Valpo which came up with the biggest run, as it reeled off five points in a row late — including two kills from Boyer and capped by a service ace by fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) — to go up 23-18.
- ISU scored the next two points to move within three, but Valpo closed out the set with consecutive points to go up 2-1 in the match.
- The fourth set was controlled by the Redbirds from the start, as they hit .455 in the frame and never trailed to force the fifth frame.
Inside the Match
- The loss was Valpo’s first in a five-set match this year, as it had won all six five-set affairs this season.
- In fact, Saturday snapped a nine-match winning streak in five-set matches dating back to last season, a streak which ironically started with a five-set win at Illinois State in February — a match which featured Valpo’s most lopsided fifth-set win in program history.
- Anderson handed out 23 assists to lead Valpo on Saturday and ended the night with 4,257 career assists, in the process moving into 20th place in MVC history in the category.
- Both of Valpo’s setters posted double-doubles, as Anderson recorded 10 digs as well, while sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) notched 17 assists and 10 digs.
- The Valpo middles tied for team-high honors with 14 kills apiece. Hart registered a team-best seven blocks to go with her 14 kills, while McCarthy was in on four blocks, three of which were solo rejections.
- Boyer tallied 10 kills against the Redbirds and reached double figures in terminations in both matches this weekend after hitting the 10-kill mark just twice in her career prior to the weekend.
- Junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) paced the back line with 18 digs.
Valpo (13-6, 4-4 MVC) returns home to the ARC for a key weekend of MVC action next weekend, starting with a Friday night match against Missouri State. First serve is slated for 6 p.m., and the match can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN.