The Valpo volleyball team made quick work of longtime rival Butler in the first round of the 2021 NIVC Thursday evening at the ARC, sweeping the Bulldogs (25-23, 25-17, 25-16) for the third postseason victory in program history. With the win, the Beacons advance to face Toledo — five-set winners over Indiana State in Thursday’s first match — with a quarterfinal berth on the line Friday evening.
How It Happened
- Valpo took control of the opening set on either side of the midway point, going on a 7-2 run to extend an 8-7 advantage to 15-9. Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) led the way during that spurt with three kills and was in on a block as well.
- The Beacons were still in command with a six-point lead at 20-14 before Butler roared back with an 8-1 run to take a 22-21 lead late.
- A Butler attack error tied things up at 22-all, and Boyer came up with another termination to return the lead to Valpo. Another error by the Bulldogs gave Valpo set point at 24-22, and on its second chance, the hosts closed out the opener thanks to a kill by Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton).
- Kills from McCarthy and Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) helped Valpo out to a 5-1 lead in set two as it would never trail.
- Seven kills from five different players were part of a 12-3 stretch during which the Beacons extended their advantage to 18-8. The lead reached as many as 11 points, and a kill from Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) eventually gave Valpo a 2-0 lead in the match.
- It was the Bulldogs who jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in set three, but a 9-1 run for Valpo soon after gave it the lead for good, turning an 8-4 disadvantage into a 13-9 edge.
- Butler moved back within one at 14-13, but the combined play of McCarthy and Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) put together the vital run which put the match away. The two players combined on a block and both had three kills apiece as part of a 7-1 spurt, the last two terminations coming from Cooper to push the lead out to 21-14. The Bulldogs would not string together consecutive points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- The victory was the third in postseason history for the Valpo program. Valpo previously earned a pair of wins in the 2018 NIVC over Ball State and Miami (Ohio).
- The win came in the 38th all-time meeting with the Beacons’ Indianapolis-based rivals. Longtime foes across all sports, the volleyball program now has two wins this calendar year over the Bulldogs to go with three wins by the football program.
- The victory improved Valpo’s home record this season to 9-1, the best mark at the ARC since the 2009 squad went 10-1 at home.
- Valpo bested Butler in the hitting percentage department Thursday, .237-.117, and out-killed the Bulldogs, 43-34. Unforced attack errors were the key, as despite being out-blocked 9-4, the Beacons committed just six more attack errors to Butler’s 16.
- Ravotto continued her strong recent stretch on the attack, posting a match-high 11 kills while hitting .267. The junior has been in double figures in kills in four straight matches and five of the last six, and Valpo is 10-1 this season when she reaches double digits.
- McCarthy hit at a .421 clip — her eighth match of the year hitting above .400 — with 10 kills to second Ravotto. It was McCarthy’s 19th match in double figures in kills this season.
- Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) picked up a double-double with 18 assists and 11 digs, while Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) tallied 16 assists.
- Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) paced Valpo with 14 digs, giving her 605 on the season and making her the only player in program history with four seasons of 600+ digs.
- Cookerly pushed her career total to 3,119 digs, just 57 shy of the NCAA D-I record. She also cracked the D-I career top-20 for matches played with the 155th appearance of her Valpo career.
Valpo (23-9) looks to advance to the NIVC quarterfinals for the second time in as many tournament appearances on Friday evening as it hosts Toledo. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.