The Valpo volleyball team earned its first-ever win in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Friday evening, and with it, reached the 20-win milestone for the 16th time in the last 20 seasons as the Beacons earned a 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-22, 25-17) victory over UNI. The victory keeps Valpo’s shot at a potential third seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament alive.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first set and had a number of leads of three or four points, but could not extend the advantage any further to slam the door on the Panthers.
- UNI turned what was a 21-17 Valpo lead late into a 22-21 deficit as it reeled off five consecutive points.
- The Beacons responded with kills from Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) and Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) to regain the lead at 23-22.
- A UNI block briefly tied the frame at 23-23, but another kill from Swistek gave Valpo set point and Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) and Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) combined on a block to close the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- With the score tied 8-8 in the second set, UNI scored nine of the next 13 points to take control at 17-12. Valpo closed back to within two points four different times, but the Panthers sided out all four times as the match eventually evened up at one set apiece.
- Valpo jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set behind two early kills from Swistek and a block and a kill by Hart, but UNI erased the deficit and took a 9-8 lead.
- The Beacons came back with four straight points and would never trail again, but the third set win would not come easily. Valpo’s lead was 19-15 before a 4-1 spurt from the Panthers evened things up at 20 apiece.
- The teams traded sideouts on the next four serves as the score was 22-all. A kill from Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) again returned the serve to Valpo with the lead, and this time it took advantage, as Hart picked up a kill to earn set point at 24-22. A UNI error closed out the frame as Valpo took the 2-1 lead in the match.
- Much like the third set, the fourth set featured a quick Valpo start, as Boyer picked up a kill and a block as part of an early 4-0 lead for the Beacons. Unfortunately for Valpo, just like the third set, the fourth frame also featured a quick UNI response, as the Panthers gained the advantage at 10-9.
- The two squads battled for control over the next few points before Valpo gained control with a 9-2 run, turning a 12-12 tie into a 21-14 lead. Swistek had two kills and a service ace during the run, while Ravotto had a pair of kills as well.
- The Panthers scored three straight to try to creep back into contention, but Valpo slammed the door with the final four points of the match. A block from Swistek and Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) capped Valpo’s victory.
Inside the Match
- Valpo’s win Friday was its first in eight all-time meetings with UNI in Cedar Falls.
- The victory ensured the Beacons would reach a significant milestone yet again, as it was Valpo’s 20th win of the 2021 season.
- Valpo has now reached the 20-win mark in 16 of head coach Carin Avery’s 20 seasons at the helm of the program and 21 times overall in program history. It is the second time in the last three complete seasons the program has hit 20 wins.
- The Beacons have now defeated UNI in four consecutive matchups after dropping the first 14 meetings to the Panthers.
- Friday’s win ensures Valpo at worst an outright fourth-place finish in the MVC standings. Valpo could move into a tie for third with a win on Saturday and could still potentially be the third seed for the MVC Tournament.
- Valpo posted 21 kills in its third-set win on Friday, tying a season high for most kills in a single set.
- It was a balanced team effort offensively in the victory, as five different players tallied between seven and 11 kills.
- McCarthy tied for team-high honors with 11 kills and did not commit an attack error, hitting .379. She added four blocks as well.
- Swistek matched McCarthy with 11 kills and contributed 15 digs for her fifth double-double of the year. The rookie also set a season high with three service aces.
- Hart notched 10 kills and six blocks in Friday’s victory. Ravotto added eight kills, while Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) tied a career high with six blocks to go with seven kills.
- Anderson dished out 20 assists in the win, giving her 4,457 career assists — just 19 shy of 14th place in MVC history. Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) picked up her sixth double-double of the season with 17 assists and 10 digs.
- Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led all players with 19 digs, pushing her career total to 3,031 digs.
Valpo (20-8, 11-6 MVC) looks to close the regular season on a winning note Saturday evening at Drake. First serve is slated for 6 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN3.