The Valpo volleyball team improved to a perfect 6-0 at the Athletics-Recreation Center this season and solidified its spot in the top half of the MVC standings with a 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16) victory over visiting UNI on Monday evening.
How It Happened
- Valpo took control of the opening set with an 11-5 stretch — a stretch which featured three distinct three-point spurts — to pull out to a 16-9 lead.
- From there, the Beacons let UNI get no closer than five points the rest of the way. Valpo secured the opening frame on its second set point chance thanks to a kill by junior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte).
- Valpo never trailed in the second set, jumping out to a big lead early as it scored the first five points and eventually led 12-4.
- UNI tightened things up with a 6-1 spurt to close to within three points at 13-10. Incredibly, the two squads then combined to side out 18 straight times as the lead vacillated between three and four points deep into the set.
- Finally, with Valpo leading 22-19, the Panthers broke the string of sideouts as back-to-back Beacon errors cut the advantage to just one point at 22-21.
- A kill from senior Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) kept UNI at bay and was followed by a service ace by fifth-year setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) to give Valpo set point at 24-21. The Panthers extended the frame once, but another kill by Hart closed out the set as the match lead extended to 2-0.
- The third set was tight throughout, as neither squad had more than a two-point lead for the first two-thirds of the set. It was UNI which broke through, as a 4-1 spurt gave the Panthers a 20-16 edge.
- Valpo scored three straight before UNI responded with three of the next four to maintain its advantage at 23-20.
- The Beacons had another rally in them, reeling off three more points in a row on a kill from Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) and back-to-back service aces by Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) to tie things up at 23-23. But two points from potentially completing a sweep, Valpo instead found itself facing a fourth set as the Panthers got a kill and a service ace to finish the third frame in their favor.
- UNI controlled the early portion of the fourth set, but the Beacons never let it get ahead by more than three points and rallied to take a lead at 11-10.
- Mini-spurts each way resulted in the two squads being even at 15, but the biggest run of the night was still in store.
- It started innocuously enough with a kill from freshman Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie), but three straight UNI attack errors were followed by Hart and junior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) combining on a block to push the lead to 20-15.
- A UNI kill briefly quelled the momentum, but Hart quickly gained it back with back-to-back kills. Boyer tossed in a kill of her own, and a Panther error made it match point Valpo at 24-16. Fittingly, it was Hart to close out the 10-1 run and the victory with another termination.
Inside the Match
- Valpo now sits at 6-0 at home this season at the ARC and has dropped just four sets in those six matches.
- This is the fourth time under head coach Carin Avery that Valpo has won at least its first six home matches of the year. The 2005 squad went a perfect 13-0 for the season at the ARC, while the 2003 team won its first seven home matches and the 2014 team won its first six at home.
- The victory pushes Valpo’s MVC record to 8-5, three games clear of seventh place with five matches remaining. Only the top six in the final conference standings qualify for the MVC Tournament.
- The win was Valpo’s third straight in the last two seasons over the Panthers. Prior to the spring 2021 campaign, UNI had won all 14 meetings between the programs.
- Valpo’s pair of middles both had standout efforts on Monday. McCarthy finished with a match-best 16 kills on .448 hitting and led all players with four blocks as well.
- With her four blocks, McCarthy now owns 418 career rejections, passing former Valpo great Jessie Fox for fourth in program history.
- McCarthy also moved past 1,100 kills for her career on Monday and is just 60 kills shy of the program’s all-time top-10 in that category as well.
- Meanwhile, Hart recorded 14 kills on .444 hitting while chipping in three blocks.
- Sophomore Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered 23 assists to lead the Beacons Monday and Anderson added 21 assists. With 4,365 career assists, Anderson now ranks 15th in MVC history in the category.
- Fifth-year libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) notched a match-best 20 digs, pushing her career total to 2,965 digs. Swistek reached double figures in the category as well with 14 digs.
Valpo (17-7, 8-5) continues a stretch of four straight home matches — its final matches at the ARC this season — on Friday when it hosts MVC-leading Loyola. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3.