The Valpo volleyball team received contributions all the way up and down its roster Friday evening at the ARC in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-11) sweep of visiting Murray State in MVC action. With the win, the Beacons are tied for the D-I national lead with 16 victories on the season and have already clinched a winning season.
How It Happened
- Valpo took the lead for good in the opening set on a 5-0 run on the serve of junior Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon). Bulmahn had two service aces during the spurt and sophomore Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) added a pair of kills as the Beacons turned a 9-7 deficit into a 12-9 lead.
- It was Valpo’s other setter who was on the serve for the run during which the Beacons pulled away. Redshirt freshman Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) had back-to-back service aces of her own during a 6-0 run which extended Valpo’s lead to eight points at 20-12. The Racers got no closer than six points the rest of the way as Valpo took the opener.
- The second set ended up being the tightest of the evening, as there were 12 ties and three lead changes. Murray State enjoyed a slight edge through the middle stages, pulling out to a 20-17 lead approaching the final points.
- Kills from seniors Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) and Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and an attack error by the Racers tied the set up at 20-20. Strongman and Swistek gave Valpo the lead with a rejection, and following an MSU error, Bulmahn delivered her third ace of the match to cap a 6-0 run and make it 23-20 Beacons.
- Back-to-back Racer points cut the Valpo lead to 23-22, but Cooper came through with another kill to give Valpo set point and an MSU hitting error gave the Beacons the 2-0 lead in the match.
- The third set was Valpo’s from the start, as it limited the Racers to a negative hitting percentage in the frame. Valpo scored the first five points on the serve of Bulmahn and never looked back, as Murray State got no closer than four points from that juncture.
Inside the Match
- Friday’s victory was Valpo’s 16th of the season, tying the national lead. The Beacons are one of six D-I programs as of Friday night with 16 wins on the campaign.
- With a 16-2 record, Valpo has already secured a winning record this season. Valpo has finished with a winning record in 19 of Carin Avery’s 21 seasons at the helm of the program.
- The 16-2 mark ties for the second-most wins in a season in program history before suffering a third loss. The 2014 team was 16-2 before dropping a third contest, while the 2018 team ran its record to 17-2 before taking a third defeat.
- Valpo improved to 5-0 all-time against MVC newcomer Murray State, besting the Racers in a conference matchup for the first time.
- The sweep was Valpo’s first 3-0 win in MVC regular season play in its last 13 matches. The Beacons’ last 3-0 victory in Valley action can on Nov. 5 last season at the ARC versus Loyola.
- Valpo’s team defense was strong on Friday, limiting Murray State to 26 kills on .033 hitting — both the second-lowest marks by a Valpo opponent this season.
- The Beacons matched a season high with eight service aces as a team, while the Valpo attack hit into just one block — a season low by an opponent.
- Friday’s win featured contributions from all over the roster, as 15 players saw action. The Beacons’ leading kill total was just seven, as Cooper reached that mark on .462 hitting and was joined on seven kills by Swistek and senior Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian).
- Junior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) had another efficient night on the attack, hitting .600 with six kills. Senior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) added five kills and Strongman finished with four terminations.
- Bulmahn and Kois each tallied three service aces to go with 17 and 13 assists, respectively.
- Strongman and Swistek tied for team-high honors with three blocks apiece as the Beacons tallied seven rejections over the three sets.
- Freshman Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) continued her steady back-row play with a match-best 21 digs. Sitting just 21 digs from already reaching 400 on the season, Hickey has been in double figures in the category in 16 of Valpo’s 18 matches and has hit 20 or more digs 13 times.
- Ravotto reached double digits in digs for the 10th time this season, finishing with 17 digs.
Valpo (16-2, 4-2 MVC) goes for its fourth straight victory when it hosts Belmont at the ARC Saturday evening at 5 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN3.