In stark contrast to the previous night’s match at the ARC, the Valpo volleyball team comfortably controlled most of Saturday evening’s MVC match against Southern Illinois, taking down the Salukis in straight sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-19) to close out a perfect weekend at home.
How It Happened
- The big run in the first set came around the halfway mark of the frame. With the lead just a single point at 9-8, a kill from junior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and a service ace from fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) sparked a 9-1 run.
- On the other end of the run, an ace by fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) closed it out, pushing Valpo’s advantage to 18-9.
- The Salukis closed to within 22-18 late, but a block from juniors Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and Rachel Speck (Whitmore Lake, Mich./Whitmore Lake) was followed by a pair of SIU errors to close the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- While Valpo took advantage of 10 attack errors from the Salukis in the first set, the second set featured a tremendous output from the Beacons’ offense. Valpo racked up 21 kills in the second frame — a season high for one set.
- Valpo started the set on a 5-0 run, kicked off by consecutive kills from fifth-year middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton), and never allowed the Salukis to tie the score.
- SIU did close to within one point at 6-5, and within two points at 11-9, but both times Valpo came up with kills to keep the Salukis at bay. Seven different Beacons picked up kills during the set, with even Cookerly getting a kill to give Valpo set point. A kill by Cooper ended the set and gave Valpo a 2-0 lead in the match.
- The third set looked like it might be a repeat of the second set at the outset, as Valpo scored the first five points and led 9-5. But the Salukis scored seven straight points to take their first lead of the match and pull ahead, 12-9.
- Valpo battled back, however, tying the score at 13-13 after three consecutive points. The Beacons took the lead for good on a McCarthy kill which gave them a 17-16 advantage.
- SIU was within one point at 20-19, but a kill by Cooper returned the serve to Valpo and Cookerly served out the sweep. Cooper had a block as well during the five-point spurt to end the night and capped the sweep with her seventh kill of the evening.
Inside the Match
- Valpo improved to a perfect 5-0 at home this season, all of which have been MVC matches, including three sweeps.
- With their record now sitting at 15-6 overall, the Beacons have assured themselves of a winning season.
- Valpo’s balanced offense Saturday featured five different players tallying at least six kills. Leading the way was McCarthy, who hit .421 with 10 kills — the lone player to reach double figures in the category on either side.
- Defensively, McCarthy was in on three blocks. She now owns 405 career blocks and moved past Valpo Hall of Famer Lauren Moulton on Saturday for fifth place in program history in the category.
- Freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) notched eight kills, while Cooper and junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) racked up seven apiece. Senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) added six kills on .313 hitting as well.
- Cooper paced Valpo defensively at the net with four blocks.
- Anderson dished out 22 assists, in the process moving into 18th position in MVC history in career assists. She has tallied 4,304 helpers for her career.
- Cookerly recorded a team-best 16 digs on Saturday, pushing her career total to 2,914.
Valpo (15-6, 6-4 MVC) matches up with its fellow Indiana-based programs for the second time in conference play next weekend, starting with a Friday night match at Evansville. The 6 p.m. first serve can be seen live on ESPN3.