The Valpo volleyball team saw its 2022 season come to a close Thursday evening in Athens, Ohio, falling in straight sets in the opening round of the NIVC to host Ohio (25-19, 25-11, 25-17).
How It Happened
- The Beacons got out to a strong start in the opening set, as junior Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) had a service ace and a kill as part of a four-point spurt to open the match.
- The Bobcats rallied with the next four points as part of a larger 11-2 run to take the lead for good. Valpo closed to within three points on multiple occasions, but was unable to get any closer as Ohio took the opening set.
- Ohio led start to finish in the second set, as Valpo was unable to string together consecutive points.
- The Beacons put together back-to-back points thanks to a kill by junior Olivia Blackketter (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South [Winthrop]) and an ace by freshman Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) to go up 6-5 in the third set, and led again at 8-7 following a block from senior Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and junior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais/Bradley-Bourbonnais).
- Ohio went on a 9-1 run from that point to pull ahead 16-10 and kept the Beacons from making a dent in the deficit the rest of the way to close out the match.
Inside the Match
- Valpo entered Thursday night’s match with a depleted roster, as the Beacons were without the services of Elise Swistek and Gretchen Kuckkan due to injury and Miranda Strongman and Rachel Speck due to illness. In addition, a number of other players were playing through illness as well.
- Senior Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) paced Valpo on the attack with seven kills, while fifth-year Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) added six kills and Blackketter posted a season-high five kills on .500 hitting.
- Hickey led the Beacons with 13 digs, while Cooper was in on all three of Valpo’s blocks.
Inside the Season
- Valpo advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season and the third time in the last five years.
- With 22 wins this year, the 2022 Valpo squad became the 17th team in Carin Avery’s 21-year tenure as head coach to reach 20 victories.
- This year is also the 19th time in Avery’s 21 seasons Valpo has finished with a winning record.
- The Beacons finished in the top half of the MVC regular season standings this year, the 20th time in Avery’s 21 seasons the program has done so. Valpo is the only team to finish in the top-half of the MVC standings each of the last six seasons.
- Januski smashed Valpo’s single-season record with a .353 hitting percentage. The program’s previous 25-point era record in the category was .307 (Kelsey Victor, 2014), while the previous overall record was .334 (Nicole Schulz, 2006).
- With 121 blocks on the season, Januski also moved into seventh place in the 25-point era for rejections.
- Strongman also surpassed the previous 25-point era record for hitting percentage as she swung at a .308 clip, now fourth-best in program history overall.
- The Valpo and MVC single-season records for digs by a freshman now stand at 735 after Hickey’s 13-dig performance on Thursday. That mark ties Hickey with Taylor Root for third in Valpo’s 25-point era and fourth overall at Valpo, while it ranks puts Hickey in fourth place in Valpo’s 25-point era, fifth place overall at Valpo and sixth place overall in the MVC single-season record books.
- Hickey’s 735 digs are tied for second-most by an NCAA D-I freshman in the last 12 seasons.
- Bulmahn cracked the top-10 in the 25-point era at Valpo in service aces with 32, good for a tie for 6th.
- As a team, Valpo registered 154 service aces this year, the fourth-best program total in the 25-point era, and the Beacons tallied 284.5 blocks, fifth-most in the 25-point era and ninth-most overall in program history.
Inside the Careers
- Four seniors saw their Valpo careers come to an end on Thursday.
- Boyer tallied 557 kills and 166 blocks over 87 matches.
- Cooper wrapped up her four-year career with 536 kills and 246 blocks in 96 appearances.
- Grant saw action in 114 contests over her five seasons, racking up 784 kills and 881 digs.
- Speck recorded 46 kills and 59 blocks in 40 career appearances.