The Valpo volleyball team opened its final preconference tournament of the 2023 season at the Purdue Fort Wayne Invitational, falling in four sets (28-26, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20) to SIUE.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out in front in the opening set, scoring the first three points and leading throughout the first half of the set. The Cougars put together a 6-1 run mid-set, however, to pull in front, 16-14.
- The Beacons responded with a 7-1 run of their own, which included two kills from fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]), to regain a 21-17 advantage.
- The lead was still four points at 22-18, leaving Valpo three points from claiming the opener, before SIUE reeled off five points in a row to go in front, 23-22. The Beacons were unable to regain the lead from there, and despite holding off three set points, the Cougars eventually took the set on their fourth chance.
- It was SIUE with a quick start to the second set, scoring six of the frame’s first eight points. But Valpo answered immediately, turning a 7-3 deficit into an 18-13 lead with a 15-6 stretch which featured six consecutive servers serving multiple times in a row. The big push came at 13-13, as the Beacons reeled off five straight points — including back-to-back kills from fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian).
- SIUE closed to within two points at 18-16, but a big service run by Strongman — featuring multiple kills from redshirt sophomore right side Sam Warren (Kentland, Ind./South Newton) — restored a significant lead for the Beacons. On its third set point chance, a kill from junior outside Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) finished off the set for Valpo, evening the match at one set each.
- Valpo led 11-9 approaching the midway point of set three before an SIUE 8-2 run gave the Cougars control. The Beacons closed back to within 17-15, but five in a row by SIUE shut the door on a comeback attempt as SIUE took a 2-1 lead in the match.
- A 6-1 run in the early stages of the fourth set turned a one-point Valpo edge into a 12-8 lead for SIUE. The Beacons were unable to cut the deficit to less than two points the rest of the way.
Inside the Match
- Four Valpo players ended up with exactly 10 kills apiece, highlighted by senior middle Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) doing so on .474 hitting, needing just 19 swings.
- Strongman posted a season-best 10 kills on .333 hitting and added three blocks, while Ravotto and Januski tallied 10 terminations each as well.
- Redshirt sophomore setter Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) handed out 24 assists and senior setter Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) added 21 helpers.
- Ravotto and Swistek both finished with double-doubles, registering 17 and 13 digs, respectively. Sophomore libero Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) led all players with 19 digs.
- Ravotto moved into 12th place in program history in career digs on Friday, as she owns 1,404 career digs — just 72 shy of the program’s top-10 chart.
- Valpo out-dug SIUE 66-62 and trailed in kills just 58-52, but the Cougars hit a .252 clip versus Valpo’s .170 hitting percentage as the Beacons committed 26 attack errors — 13 of which were SIUE blocks.
Valpo (6-5) looks for a winning end to the nonconference slate on Saturday with its final two matches from Fort Wayne, taking on Miami (Ohio) at 12:30 p.m. CT and the host Mastodons at 6 p.m. CT. Both matches can be seen live on ESPN+.