Valpo volleyball head coach Carin Avery stands alone among Valparaiso University head coaches, earning her 479th victory Saturday at the helm of the program to become the winningest head coach across all sports in Valpo Athletics history. Avery moved past Valpo Athletics legend Emory Bauer as her Beacons swept a pair of matches to close out the Purdue Fort Wayne Invitational, taking care of Miami (Ohio) in straight sets (25-14, 25-17, 25-19) in the early afternoon before finishing up with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-22) sweep of the hosts in evening action.
How It Happened – Miami
- Valpo broke open the first set in a big way with a mid-set run, going on an 11-3 spurt to push a 7-6 lead all the way out to 18-9. Senior middle Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) tallied two kills and was in on a pair of blocks during the run.
- The Beacons maintained at least a seven-point lead the rest of the way and pulled away at the end of the set, closing it out on a kill from fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]).
- A look at the box score seemingly shows that Valpo’s offense was the story of the second set, as the Beacons ended the frame hitting at a stellar .444 clip as a team. But that number belies how tight the set was — at least until a kill from redshirt sophomore right side Sam Warren (Kentland, Ind./South Newton) sent junior outside Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) with the score tied, 16-16.
- Januski started out what turned out to be a massive run with a solo rejection to put Valpo in front. Swistek came up with an ace, followed by a kill by Warren to make it 19-16. Again, another Swistek ace was followed by a Warren kill, and Warren made it back-to-back terminations this time to push the lead to 22-16.
- For a little variety, senior setter Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) threw in a setter dump for a kill before Swistek closed out the 9-0 run with her third ace of the service run. Miami held off one set point, but a service error finished it up and gave Valpo a 2-0 lead in the match.
- Valpo took the first three points of the third set and never gave up the lead, pushing the advantage out to 10-4 early.
- A four-point spurt from the RedHawks late cut Valpo’s edge to 20-18, but fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) stopped the momentum with a kill and Strongman combined with freshman Kennedy Arp (Byron Center, Mich./South Christian) for a block to push it back to a four-point edge. Strongman eventually served out the match with an ace and another tough serve which forced a Miami miscue for the final two points.
How It Happened – Purdue Fort Wayne
- Valpo’s defense was the story of the opening set, holding the hosts to -.114 hitting in set one. An early 12-1 run was all the Beacons needed and they continued to lengthen the lead throughout the frame, finishing up with a kill from fifth-year outside Laura Ilizastigui (Bogota, Colombia/Integrado de Fontibón [Chicago State]) to take the opener.
- Two kills from Swistek and consecutive service aces by Bulmahn gave Valpo an early 5-1 edge in set two, a lead the Beacons never relinquished.
- Purdue Fort Wayne did cut the advantage to two points past the midway point of the set, and the Mastodons moved within three points at 20-17. But Valpo came back with a 5-2 stretch to close the set, getting kills from four different players in that stretch as it took the two-set lead in the match.
- The battle to close out the second sweep of the day proved to be the toughest challenge the Beacons faced on Saturday. Purdue Fort Wayne used a 7-2 run to claim the lead in the first half of the frame and enjoyed a 13-11 edge as the set passed the halfway mark.
- The Beacons put together a big spurt to try to gain control, as Warren had three kills and combined with Januski on a pair of blocks during an 8-1 run which gave Valpo the 19-14 advantage. But the Mastodons responded with the next five points to even the score at 19-19.
- A well-timed second-touch setter dump from Bulmahn found the center of the court for a big kill to return the lead to Valpo, and Strongman combined with senior right side Olivia Blackketter (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington North [Winthrop]) on a rejection to make it 21-19.
- Sophomore Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) came up with a rare libero kill to push the lead to three points before the Mastodons posted back-to-back kills to move within 22-21. Strongman made sure the Beacons retained the lead with another kill, and after another PFW kill, Ravotto set up Swistek out-of-system for a big kill to earn match point at 24-22. The Beacons needed just one chance at it, as the Mastodons committed an attack error to close out Avery’s record-setting win.
Inside the Record
- Avery entered the weekend needing one win to tie and two wins to surpass Emory Bauer’s previous Valpo Athletics record of 478 wins, and did both on Saturday with the pair of sweeps.
- Bauer amassed his victories over three different sports, collecting 361 wins in 28 seasons as head coach of the baseball program, 109 victories in 22 years guiding the football team and eight wins in one season as men’s basketball head coach.
- Avery’s record total, meanwhile, has obviously come all at the helm of the Valpo volleyball program. In her 22nd season as head coach, Avery’s teams have averaged better than 22 wins per year in her first 21 years guiding the program.
- In Avery’s first 21 seasons, Valpo has finished with a winning record 19 times and has posted 20 or more victories 17 times.
- Under Avery, Valpo has posted the six winningest seasons in program history, including a program-best 29 wins in 2004.
Inside the Matches
- Valpo’s offense was strong in both of Saturday’s sweeps, as the balanced attack hit at a .337 clip in the win over Miami and .271 in the victory over Purdue Fort Wayne.
- Bulmahn handed out 19 assists in the day’s first win and dished out 17 in the win over the hosts, while redshirt sophomore Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) registered 14 and 17 assists, respectively, in the two sweeps.
- For the second time this year, Strongman matched Valpo’s program record for service aces in a match in the 25-point era, tallying five aces in the win over Miami. Swistek wasn’t far behind her, recording a career-best four aces as well as the Beacons matched their season high with nine team aces.
- Januski paced Valpo on both sides of the net in the win over the RedHawks, tallying 10 kills on .643 hitting as she took just 14 swings. The senior added a match-high four blocks defensively.
- Ravotto notched eight kills in the Miami win, while Strongman put down seven kills on just 10 swings, hitting .600. Warren and Swistek each had five kills as well, while the latter also added seven digs.
- Hickey registered a match-best 18 digs in the win over Miami, as Valpo improved to a perfect 5-0 against the RedHawks under Avery.
- It was Swistek who led the way in the tournament finale, finishing with 10 kills on .474 hitting and narrowly missing a double-double with nine digs.
- Januski and Warren each tallied seven kills against the Mastodons, and were both big on the block as well. Januski tied her season high and led all players with five rejections, while Warren matched her career best with four blocks.
- Strongman hit .500 with six kills and four blocks in the nightcap. Ravotto added six kills to go with 10 digs, moving into 11th place in program history with 1,423 career digs on Saturday.
- For the second straight match, Hickey recorded exactly 18 digs to pace all players.
- With an 8-5 record, Valpo finished nonconference play with a winning record for the 20th time in the last 22 years.
Four tournaments have come and gone, and Valpo (8-5) turns its sights to the start of MVC play Friday evening at the ARC as the Beacons host Missouri State at 6 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.