August 29, 20231st2nd3rdFinal
VALPOTeam StatsIllini
0.056Hitting Pct.0.385
108Total Attacks96
Januski - 7
Arp - 7
KillsTerry - 13
Kois - 12
AssistsMosher - 35
Strongman - 1
Kois - 1
Hickey - 1
AcesTerry - 2
Hickey - 11
DigsBarry - 12
Januski - 1
Swistek - 1
Warren - 1
Arp - 1
BlocksCollins - 5
Terry - 5
Bingham - 5
Bohm - 5

September 01, 20231st2nd3rdFinal
Western Ill.1917180
0.054Hitting Pct.0.207
112Total Attacks116
Wulf - 11
KillsRavotto - 9
Craker - 23
AssistsThomas - 11
Wulf - 2
AcesHickey - 2
Wenzel - 12
DigsHickey - 12
Schmidt - 3
BlocksArp - 4

September 01, 20231st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
Eastern Mich.2519251462
0.119Hitting Pct.0.215
177Total Attacks186
Minshew - 15
KillsRavotto - 16
McLoughlin - 38
AssistsKois - 28
Minshew - 1
Koger - 1
McLoughlin - 1
AcesRavotto - 1
Kois - 1
Swistek - 1
Hommes - 23
DigsHickey - 24
Koger - 7
BlocksJanuski - 5

September 02, 20231st2nd3rdFinal
OakTeam StatsVALPO
0.113Hitting Pct.0.223
124Total Attacks130
Cesarini - 11
KillsRavotto - 8
Swistek - 8
Turner - 14
Rossman - 14
AssistsBulmahn - 20
Turner - 1
Rossman - 1
AcesKois - 2
Wichmann - 13
DigsRavotto - 16
Prisby - 2
Bohm - 2
BlocksStrongman - 4
Volleyball Takes On Illinois, Hosts Popcorn Classic
Monday, August 28, 2023
Volleyball Takes On Illinois, Hosts Popcorn Classic

Valparaiso (2-1, 0-0 MVC)
Tuesday, Aug. 29 - at Illinois (1-0) - 6 p.m.
Popcorn Classic (Valparaiso, Ind.)
Friday, Sept. 1 - Western Illinois (0-2) - 10 a.m. | Eastern Michigan (0-3) - 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 2 - Oakland (1-2) - 5 p.m.

Next Up For Valpo Volleyball: The Valpo volleyball team takes on the first of two Big Ten opponents this year on Tuesday when it travels to Illinois before returning home to host the Popcorn Classic this coming weekend. The Beacons welcome Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Oakland to town for the two-day, six-match event.

Looking Ahead: Valpo's third in-season tournament of the campaign sees the Beacons travel to Clarksville, Tenn. next weekend to take part in Austin Peay's Stacheville Challenge.

Following the Beacons: Tuesday's match at Illinois will be carried on BTN+, while all three matches this weekend will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links for the live video and live stats will be available at

Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 22nd season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 473 matches (473-229, .674) at the helm of the program and has led Valpo to three league regular season and tournament titles. The program has made seven postseason appearances under Avery, including three NCAA Tournament appearances, and advanced to the championship match of the 2021 NIVC. A two-time Mid-Con Coach of the Year, Avery has coached 60 All-League recipients over her tenure at Valpo, which has spanned three different conferences. She is Valpo’s all-time leader in both victories and winning percentage, and owns a 528-253 (.676) record overall as a head coach.

Series History: Illinois - The two programs have met just once all time, a 3-0 Illinois win in 2021 at Milwaukee's Panther Invitational. Bella Ravotto had six kills in that contest, while Victoria Bulmahn tallied 14 assists and nine digs.

Western Illinois - Valpo has dominated the all-time series against its former Mid-Continent Conference partner, 32-6. The two teams last met Sept. 17, 2021 at the SIUE Cougar Classic, a 3-0 Valpo victory. Elise Swistek had a match-high eight kills and posted 16 digs in the win, while Mallory Januski led the Beacons with five blocks.

Eastern Michigan - Valpo owns a 3-4 record against EMU, but the two programs have met just once in the last 17 seasons - a 3-2 Valpo victory as part of the 2013 Popcorn Classic.

Oakland - Former conference rivals in both the Mid-Con and the Horizon League, Valpo is 22-7 in program history versus the Golden Grizzlies. The two teams have not met since their last matchup in Horizon League play, a 3-1 Valpo win at the ARC on Nov. 9, 2016.

Scouting the Opposition: Illinois - The Fighting Illini have played just once this season, a 3-1 victory over Northern Illinois. Illinois posted a 15-15 overall record last season and was 10-10 in Big Ten action.

Western Illinois - WIU dropped a pair of matches on opening weekend, 3-0 to Cleveland State and 3-1 to Murray State. The Leathernecks went 4-26 in 2022 and were 0-18 within the Summit League.

Eastern Michigan - EMU went 0-3 in the first weekend of action, falling 3-1 to SIUE and Bradley and 3-2 to IUPUI. The Eagles were 5-25 a season ago, including a 4-14 mark in MAC play.

Oakland - Oakland closed out opening weekend with a 3-1 win over St. Thomas after dropping matches to Lindenwood (3-2) and UIC (3-0). The Golden Grizzlies are coming off an 11-19 campaign in 2022 and were 7-11 in Horizon League competition.

Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish in sixth place in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2023, according to preseason polling of the conference’s head coaches. The Beacons accumulated 73 points in the polling to come in at sixth position, outpacing Illinois State by two points. UNI claimed seven of 12 first-place votes and nipped Drake by two points for the top spot in the poll.

Looking Back at Last Season: The Beacons enjoyed another successful season in 2022, finishing the campaign with a 22-11 overall record. Valpo posted a 9-9 mark in MVC play to finish in sixth place in the newly-expanded 12-team conference and won a match at the MVC Tournament for its fourth straight appearance. The Beacons earned an at-large bid to the 2022 NIVC, their third showing in the tournament in the last five seasons. After a record-setting rookie campaign, freshman libero Emma Hickey was named a Second Team All-MVC and MVC All-Freshman Team honoree.

What's Back: Valpo returns plenty of experience from last year's squad, as 11 letterwinners are back this year, including four starters plus the libero. In all, 98% of the assists, 89.3% of the digs, 62.7% of the blocks and 60.9% of the kills from last season are back in 2023.

Who's New: Joining the 11 returnees on this year's team are six players looking to make an impact in their first season as Valpo. The sextet includes four true freshmen and two transfers - one fifth-year grad transfer and one sophomore.

Capturing Crowns: While Valpo's streak of capturing in-season tournament titles was snapped at five last weekend, the program has still enjoyed tremendous success over the years in tournament action. Valpo has won 33 in-season tournament titles in head coach Carin Avery's time at the helm of the program. The team has won at least one tournament in 16 of her seasons, and multiple tournaments 11 times. Those tournament titles have come in 14 different states.

Hosting Success: This weekend marks the 12th time in Avery's tenure as head coach that Valpo will host an early-season tournament. Valpo has claimed the tournament title with a perfect record in seven of the previous 11 events, including most recently a 3-0 mark in last season's Popcorn Classic. The program has never finished below .500 at a home tournament under Avery and has finished with one loss or fewer in 10 of the 11.

All-Tournament Team Honorees: After finishing in second place last weekend at the EIU Volleyball Invitational, a pair of Valpo players were named to the All-Tournament Team. Fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman paced Valpo with 10 blocks and eight service aces over the three matches while also hitting .382 with 14 kills to pick up her second career All-Tournament honor. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore right side Sam Warren took advantage of the first regular playing time of her career to earn her first career All-Tournament accolade, notching 20 kills on .294 hitting and six blocks for the weekend.

Squad Goals: It was a total team effort over the weekend's three matches for Valpo on opening weekend. 15 of the 17 players on the Beacons' roster saw action, with 12 of those 15 appearing in at least four sets. Laura Ilizastigui made her Valpo debut in the fifth set against Eastern Illinois, while Kennedy Arp and Mara Thomas both made their collegiate debuts in that same set as well. On Saturday versus ULM, Maddie Moan made her Valpo debut as well.

Record-Setting Service Run: Fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman served out Valpo's sweep of ULM on Saturday with a record-setting run, serving the final seven points of the match, the last six of which included five service aces. The five aces match the most by a Valpo player in the 25-point era in any length match and are tied for fifth-most in a three-set match in any era at Valpo. The last Valpo player to rack up five aces in a single set was Ariel Cudney on Nov. 19, 2010 versus Green Bay in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Tournament.

Not Just a Libero: Sophomore Emma Hickey made waves last season with her standout play as a rookie at libero, ranking fourth nationally in digs per set while setting Valpo and MVC records for digs by a freshman. But Hickey showed this weekend that she can contribute on the attack as well. Hickey earned a start at outside hitter against ULM and looked right at home offensively, racking up nine kills to tie for match-high honors while hitting at a .412 clip. The sophomore, who did shed the libero jersey for a set at outside hitter last season in the NIVC at Ohio, picked up nine digs defensively as well.

Another 20-Win Campaign: It's a milestone that has become routine for the program, yet still impressive in its totality - Valpo finished with 22 wins in 2022 and has now won 20 or more matches in 17 of Carin Avery's 21 seasons as head coach. Even more remarkably, one of the four seasons Valpo didn't reach 20 wins was the shortened spring 2021 campaign, when the program played just 20 matches total. The Beacons also secured their 19th winning season in Avery’s 21 seasons at the helm.

Top Half Finishes: In addition to the 20-win season, the Beacons also secured a top-half finish in the MVC standings as they finished in sixth place in the 12-team conference. Valpo has now finished in the top-half of the Valley standings in each of its six years in the conference, the only MVC program to accomplish that feat - Illinois State had finished top-half each of the last five years, but dropped out of the top-six in 2022. Going back further, Valpo has posted top-half conference finishes in 20 of Avery's 21 seasons - as well as qualifying for the conference tournament in each of her 21 seasons - and 29 of the last 30 years overall.

Digging Deep: Valpo continued its long tradition of strong back row play last fall, finishing 10th nationally and leading the MVC with 17.27 digs/set. The program has ranked among the top-30 nationally in digs/set in each of the last 12 seasons, highlighted by the 2017 campaign in which it led the nation with 20.03 digs/set. Other top finishes include third nationally in the spring 2021 season (20.37/set), a fourth-place rank in 2010 and a sixth-place finish in 2015. Since the move to 25-point scoring, only seven teams have averaged more than 20 digs/set over the course of a season, and Valpo is the only program to have done it twice. 2018 saw Valpo lead the nation with 2,613 total digs - a mark which set a program single-season record and a Division I record in the 25-point era.

Hickey Sets New Standards: Emma Hickey made an immediate impact on Valpo’s backcourt and the record books in her rookie season. She set Valpo and MVC freshman record for digs in a season, finishing with 735 total digs, and led the Valley and ranked fourth nationally with 5.70 digs/set. No D-I freshman was within 200 digs of her season total, while it was tied for the second-most digs by a D-I freshman in the last 12 seasons. Her 735 digs are tied for fourth overall on Valpo’s single-season chart and rank sixth in MVC history as well.

Januski Runs the Middle: Senior middle Mallory Januski bided her time behind a pair of All-Conference middles in her first two seasons at Valpo, but given the opportunity in 2022 to run with a starting role, Januski took full advantage. She led Valpo and ranked fourth in the Valley with a .353 hitting percentage, a mark which smashed the program's single-season record. Januski also ranked seventh in the Valley with 0.98 blocks/set, tallying 122 total blocks — seventh-most by a Valpo player in the 25-point era. That total includes a monster 13-block performance at Murray State, a program record for the 25-point era.

One More Year: Three Valpo players are taking advantage of the additional season of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to play a fifth year of collegiate volleyball, but each of the three are at a different point in their Valpo journey. Bella Ravotto has spent all five years at the ARC, while Miranda Strongman is on her second season as a Beacon after playing three seasons at LIU. Most recently, Laura Ilizastigui joined the program as a graduate transfer for this season after spending two years apiece at Chicago State and the College of Southern Idaho.