The Valpo volleyball team clinched a berth in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Saturday evening in Normal, Ill. and moved into third place by itself in the MVC standings with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-15) victory at Illinois State. The Beacons have won their last six road matches, all of which have come in conference play.
How It Happened
- The first set featured nine ties, including a couple of notable ones. The two teams were tied at 12-12 before the Redbirds reeled off five points in a row to take a five-point lead. Valpo rallied to re-tie the frame at 19-all, but after trading sideouts, ISU scored five more in a row to claim the opening set.
- Valpo led for most of the second set, but it was a small edge for most of the set. The Beacons did get the lead out to five points multiple times, including at 21-16 before ISU scored three in a row to close to within two. It was still a two-point edge at 22-20 before Valpo scored the final three points of the set to even the match at one set apiece.
- The Beacons never trailed in the third set and used a four-point spurt — which included two kills from redshirt sophomore Sam Warren (Kentland, Ind./South Newton) — to push their lead out to 17-11. The advantage reached eight points at 20-12, and while Illinois State went on a 6-1 run to close to within three, Valpo responded with four of the set’s final five points to close the frame and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- It was all Valpo from the start in set four, with junior Elise Swistek (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) tallying two kills and a block in the set’s first three points to set the tone. The Beacons opened on a 7-1 run, and after the Redbirds scored three points in a row, Valpo came back with five consecutive points to run out to a 12-4 advantage. The lead was at least six points the rest of the way as the Beacons closed out the victory.
Inside the Match
- While Valpo was almost assuredly in the MVC Tournament field following its Friday night win, the Saturday victory clinched the Beacons’ spot in the eight-team field.
- Saturday’s win over Illinois State came in a matchup of two squads tied for third place in the MVC standings, as Valpo closed the night alone in third place.
- Valpo has won its last six road matches, all of which have come in Valley play over the last four weekends.
- It is the program’s first time winning any six true road matches in a row since the 2014 season.
- It is the first time Valpo has won six consecutive conference road matches since the 2004 team went a perfect 7-0 away from home in Mid-Continent Conference play.
- After winning just once in seven matchups against Illinois State in Normal in its first five seasons in the Valley, Valpo has earned road wins over the Redbirds each of the last two years.
- Saturday’s win was a measure of revenge for the Beacons, who fell in straight sets to the Redbirds earlier this season at the ARC. It is the first time Valpo has won on the road over a team after falling to that same team at home earlier in the year since doing so against Drake in 2019.
- Valpo placed three players in double figures in the kills department, all of whom finished with more kills than any individual ISU player as the Beacons held a 52-43 edge in kills.
- Warren posted a career-best .526 hitting percentage while tying for match-high honors with 11 kills, just one off her career high. The sophomore, who racked up her 11 kills on just 19 swings, also was in on four blocks as well.
- Senior Mallory Januski (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) matched Warren for match-high honors with 11 kills, hitting at a .455 clip. Januski posted a team-best five blocks as well.
- Fifth-year Miranda Strongman (Wolverine Lake, Mich./Walled Lake Central [LIU]) was the third Beacon in double figures, racking up 10 kills in the win.
- Swistek notched eight kills and a team-high 20 digs, leaving her just 23 digs away from becoming the 26th player in program history to reach the 1,000-dig mark.
- Sophomore Emma Hickey (Granger, Ind./Penn) registered 16 digs to push her career total to 1,270, moving her into 17th place in program history in the category, just one dig shy of 16th position.
- Senior Victoria Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) handed out 21 assists while redshirt sophomore Addy Kois (Osceola, Ind./Penn) tallied 20 assists. Kois also posted a trio of service aces and has 10 aces over the last three matches.
Valpo (18-10, 10-5 MVC) returns home to the ARC next weekend for its final two home matches of the season. The weekend opens Friday evening against Drake at 5 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.