Valparaiso (18-13, 10-8 MVC)
at MVC Tournament (Springfield, Mo.)
Sunday, Nov. 19 - vs. Belmont (13-19, 7-11 MVC) - 3 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 20 - vs. Southern Illinois (19-10, 11-7 MVC) - 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 - vs. UNI (24-6, 18-0 MVC) - 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 22 - Title match - 4 p.m.
Next Up For Valpo Volleyball: The Valpo volleyball team heads to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Springfield, Mo. early next week as the fifth seed in the eight-team field. The Beacons, who open tournament play against eighth-seeded Belmont, will have to win four matches in four days to claim the tournament title.
Previously: Valpo closed the regular season on Wednesday at UIC, falling in straight sets to the Flames.
Looking Ahead: The winner of the tournament earns the MVC's automatic bid to the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The NIVC is also a potential postseason landing spot for Valley teams.
Following the Beacons: Every tournament match will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links for the live video and 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 489 matches (489-241, .670) 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 544-265 (.672) record overall as a head coach.
Series History: Belmont - 4-0 overall; 4-0 under Coach Avery; 3-0 in MVC
10/27 - W 3-0 at Valpo - Elise Swistek 13 kills, .333; Miranda Strongman 10 kills, .471; Addy Kois 22 assists on 42 set attempts
Southern Illinois - 11-5 overall (6 straight wins); 11-4 under Coach Avery; 11-2 since joining MVC
9/23 - W 3-0 at Valpo - Mallory Januski 15 kills, .522; Miranda Strongman 11 kills, .556
10/20 - W 3-1 at SIU - Miranda Strongman 13 kills, .407, 6 blocks; Mallory Januski 12 kills, 6 blocks; Elise Swistek 28 digs
UNI - 4-18 overall; 4-12 under Coach Avery; 4-12 since joining MVC
9/29 - L 3-0 at UNI - Mallory Januski 12 kills, .435; Miranda Strongman 9 kills, .471; Emma Hickey 22 digs
11/11 - L 3-1 at Valpo (only MVC team to win first set from UNI this season) - Bella Ravotto 12 kills, .333, 12 digs; Elise Swistek 12 kills, 17 digs; Emma Hickey 20 digs
Tournament History: The Beacons enter the 2023 MVC Tournament with a 4-5 record since joining the Valley in conference tournament play. Valpo has won its opening-round matchup in each of its last four appearances at the tournament before dropping its second tournament match, including three defeats against the tournament's top seed. Valpo has qualified for the MVC Tournament in each of its seven seasons in the Valley, but did not compete at the spring 2021 tournament after qualifying as the fifth seed, as it was forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 issues.
Winning Tradition Continues: Valpo secured a winning 2023 season when it defeated Bradley on the road earlier this month, securing the 20th winning season in 22 years under head coach Carin Avery. The Beacons are also just two wins shy of the 20-win milestone, which would be the 18th 20-win campaign in Avery's 22 seasons.
Top Half Finishes: The Beacons the regular season in a tie for fifth-place finish in the final MVC regular season standings. Valpo has now finished in the top-half of the Valley standings in each of its seven years in the conference, the only MVC program to accomplish that feat. Going back further, Valpo has posted top-half conference finishes in 21 of Avery's 22 seasons - as well as qualifying for the conference tournament in each of her 22 seasons - and 30 of the last 31 years overall.
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. Under Avery, Valpo has posted the six winningest seasons in program history, including a program-best 29 wins in 2004.
Road Warriors: Being away from home has been kind to Valpo since the start of October. The loss at UIC in the regular season finale snapped a six-match road winning streak for the Beacons, as they had reeled off consecutive road victories over Indiana State, Evansville, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Bradley and Illinois State. It was the program’s first time winning any six true road matches in a row since the 2014 season. It was also 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.
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. This year's team has again done well to keep rallies alive, entering the tournament atop the MVC and ranked ninth nationally with 17.30 digs/set, while individually, Emma Hickey sits 14th nationally with 5.25 digs/set.
Another Milestone Hit: Junior outside Elise Swistek entered last weekend just 23 digs shy of 1,000 for her career and picked up 22 on Friday versus Drake, setting herself up to reach the milestone with her very first dig on Saturday against UNI. Remarkably, Swistek is the third Beacon this season to hit the 1,000-dig milestone, joining Emma Hickey and Victoria Bulmahn. Valpo now has 26 players all-time with 1,000 or more digs, four of whom are currently active - Swistek and Bella Ravotto are two of 13 outside hitters in program history to reach the mark, Hickey is one of six liberos and Bulmahn is one of seven setters.
Climbing the Digs Chart: Both fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto and sophomore libero Emma Hickey continue to climb the program's career digs chart. Ravotto, who moved into the top-10 in program history for career digs last month, enters the tournament with 1,629 career digs - just 24 shy of Sarah Dooms in seventh position. Meanwhile, Hickey - who became the fastest player in program history and MVC history to 1,000 career digs earlier this season, and is the only current D-I sophomore already over 1,000 digs - now owns 1,333 career digs, already up to 14th in program history.
Closing Strong: Fifth-year outside Bella Ravotto is putting together a strong stretch of matches to close her collegiate career, as she has been in double figures in kills five out of the last six matches - a stretch prior to which she had only been in double figures in kills six times all season. Ravotto has paced Valpo in kills in each of its last three matches, posting 12 kills apiece against Drake and UNI before a 13-dig effort last time out at UIC. Her match against the regular season champion Panthers might have been her best all-around effort of the year, as she hit .333 with 12 kills and 12 digs, while also handling 34 serve receptions without an error.
Efficient Middles: Valpo's middle duo of Mallory Januski and Miranda Strongman both cracked the program's single-season top-10 in hitting percentage last season (Januski .353, 1st; Strongman .308, 4th), and both are poised to do so again this season, as Januski enters the MVC Tournament hitting .312 and Strongman .301. Prior to last season, there were just four seasons in program history where an individual had hit at better than a .300 clip.
All-Tournament Team Honorees: Six different Valpo players made nine All-Tournament Teams 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 previous 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. Elise Swistek's 2.45 kills/set leads the Beacons, but ranks just 23rd overall among Valley players. Five regulars are averaging between 1.79 and 2.45 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.
Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo was picked to finish in sixth place in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2023, according to preseason polling of the conference’s head coaches. For the sixth time in Valpo's seven seasons in the Valley, the program met or exceeded the preseason prognostication.