October 06, 20231st2nd3rdFinal
Illinois St.2525253
0.246Hitting Pct.0.156
118Total Attacks128
Zeman - 12
KillsSwistek - 11
Weber - 30
AssistsBulmahn - 18
Janka - 2
AcesBulmahn - 1
Hinkle - 19
DigsHickey - 18
Reichensperger - 5
BlocksWarren - 3

October 07, 20231st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
0.141Hitting Pct.0.246
184Total Attacks179
Green - 17
KillsStrongman - 12
Swistek - 12
Scott - 40
AssistsBulmahn - 29
Kuck - 2
Green - 2
AcesJanuski - 2
Swistek - 2
Demirkol - 26
DigsHickey - 22
Scheib - 4
Minta - 4
BlocksStrongman - 8
Volleyball Returns to the ARC This Weekend
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Volleyball Returns to the ARC This Weekend

Valparaiso (10-8, 2-3 MVC)
Friday, Oct. 6 - Illinois State (4-12, 2-2 MVC) - 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7 - Bradley (7-10, 0-4 MVC) - 5 p.m.

Next Up For Valpo Volleyball: The Valpo volleyball team returns home to the ARC this weekend as Valley play rolls on. The Beacons host Illinois State on Friday night and then welcome Bradley on Saturday evening for a Girls and Women in Sport Celebration Match.

Previously: Valpo dropped both ends of the Iowa road swing last weekend, falling in straight sets at Valley preseason favorite UNI before dropping a four-set match at Drake.

Looking Ahead: Following this weekend, Valpo will play its next four matches on the road, starting with contests next weekend at Indiana State and at Evansville.

Following the Beacons: Both of this weekend's matches will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links for the live video and live stats are available via ValpoAthletics.com.

Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 22nd season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery is the all-time winningest head coach across all sports in the history of Valpo Athletics. She has won 481 matches (481-236, .671) at the helm of the program and has led Valpo to three league regular season and tournament titles. The program has made six postseason appearances under Avery, including three NCAA Tournament appearances, and advanced to the championship match of the 2021 NIVC. 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 536-260 (.673) record overall as a head coach.

Series History: Illinois State - The Redbirds own a 13-4 advantage in the all-time series, including an 11-2 mark since Valpo joined the MVC. Last season, both teams won on the other squad's home court, as the Beacons earned a four-set win in Normal before ISU spoiled Valpo's Senior Night with a four-set win.

Bradley - Valpo holds a small edge in the all-time series against the Braves, 15-12, including an 8-5 mark since joining the Valley. Last season, both matches went the full five sets, but both times, it was the Beacons coming out victorious. The home win featured a 42-dig performance from Emma Hickey.

Scouting the Opposition: Illinois State - The Redbirds enter the ARC with a 4-12 overall record this year, but they are 2-2 in Valley action after a five-set win at Murray State and a three-set win at Belmont last weekend. Aida Shadewald paces the offense with 3.33 kills/set, while Mari Hinkle picks up 5.10 digs/set. Former Valpo right side Kara Cooper, utilizing her fifth year at Illinois State, is hitting .250 with 1.71 kills/set and 0.36 blocks/set.

Bradley - The Braves are still in search of their first Valley win, entering the weekend at 7-10 overall but 0-4 in MVC action. Kendall Minta is hitting a team-best .350 with 1.86 kills/set and leads BU with 1.02 blocks/set.

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.

Top of the Charts: With Valpo's win over Purdue Fort Wayne to close out nonconference action, head coach Carin Avery surpassed Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame member Emory Bauer for the most wins by a Valpo head coach across all sports in department history.

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. 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.

A Challenging Start: The beginning of the MVC schedule was destined to challenge the Beacons right from the get-go. In a one-week span - Sept. 23-30 - Valpo played the top four teams in the MVC preseason poll - Southern Illinois was projected fourth, UIC third, UNI first and Drake second.

Back at Home: Valpo returns to the friendly confines of the ARC this weekend, where the Beacons are 5-1 so far this season. Dating back to the start of the spring 2021 campaign, Valpo owns a 31-10 home record.

Reaching 1K...: Sophomore libero Emma Hickey hit a milestone in Valpo's home match with UIC early in the third set, picking up her 16th dig of the contest to reach 1,000 career digs. Hickey, who ended the matchup with the Flames with 30 digs just four days after posting 34 digs against Missouri State, is the 24th player in Valpo volleyball history to hit four figures in digs.

...Faster Than Anyone Else: Not only did Hickey hit the 1,000-dig milestone, she did so faster than any other player in Valpo history or in MVC history. Valpo previously had a pair of liberos surpass 1,000 digs in their respective 52nd career match - Taylor Root and Rylee Cookerly. Meanwhile, Cookerly had shared MVC fastest to 1,000 honors with Illinois State's Courtney Pence, who also hit the mark in 52 matches, while UNI's Ellie Blankenship was not far behind that pair, reaching 1,000 digs in her 54th match.

Swinging Away: One season after setting Valpo's single-season record for hitting percentage, senior middle Mallory Januski has been even more efficient on higher volume this year. Januski enters this weekend hitting at a .361 clip while averaging a team-best 2.61 kills/set. She has hit .400 or better eight times this season, the most recent instance coming last Friday at UNI, when she hit .435 with 12 kills.

Strongman Stays Strong: Fifth-year middle Miranda Strongman has been right with Januski recently in terms of production. Strongman, who is hitting .324 with 2.03 kills/set this season, entered MVC play having posted double-digit kills just once this season. She turned around and hit the mark in each of Valpo's first three Valley contests: 13 kills on .324 hitting in the win over Missouri State, 11 kills on .556 hitting in the sweep of SIU and 10 kills on .320 hitting against UIC. Strongman has also twice tied Valpo's single-match record in the 25-point era this year with five service aces in a match.

Another Milestone Within Reach: While Emma Hickey reached one milestone last week, another is poised to happen this weekend. Fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto enters the weekend with 1,474 career digs to her credit - 35th-most among active D-I players. She is just two digs away from matching Angie Nordquist's total of 1,476 digs, the mark which currently ranks 10th on Valpo's program career chart in the category.

All-Tournament Team Honorees: Six different Valpo players combined for nine All-Tournament Team selections in the season's first four weekends:
Purdue Fort Wayne Invitational - Emma Hickey, Mallory Januski
Stacheville Challenge - Januski, Miranda Strongman
Popcorn Classic - Bella Ravotto (MVP), Olivia Blackketter, Januski
EIU Volleyball Invitational - Strongman, Sam Warren

Three Times the Fun: Parse the above list and you'll see senior middle Mallory Januski picking up a trio of All-Tournament Team honors this season. It is the first time a Valpo player has earned spots on three All-Tournament teams in the same season since Allison Ketcham did so in 2018. But, one of Ketcham's honors came in the postseason at the MVC Tournament - Januski is the first Valpo player in the Carin Avery era to receive three All-Tournament Team spots from solely early-season, preconference tournaments.

A Balanced Attack: Last year's Valpo team was notable for its balance on the attack, and this year's squad has been no different. Mallory Januski's 2.61 kills/set leads the Beacons, but ranks just 20th overall among Valley players. Five regulars are averaging between 1.73 and 2.61 kills/set.

Capturing Crowns: The Beacons' triumph in the Popcorn Classic added yet another crown to the program's trophy case. Valpo has now won 34 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 17 of her seasons, and multiple tournaments 11 times. Those tournament titles have come in 14 different states.

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.