The Valpo volleyball team overcame travel difficulties and a pair of one-set deficits on Saturday evening in Springfield, Mo., but in the end, the decisive fifth set went the way of Missouri State as the Bears handed Valpo a 3-2 (25-21, 16-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-11) loss and thwarted its attempt at a second consecutive five-set road win.
How It Happened
- Valpo led 6-4 early in set one, but Missouri State took control with a 9-1 run to go ahead 13-7. Valpo put together a 5-1 run to close to within two nearing the end stage at 20-18, but could not string together consecutive points to narrow the gap any further as the Bears claimed the opening set.
- An early-set run was key in the second set as well, but this time it was in Valpo’s favor, as the Brown and Gold tallied six straight points, including a pair of kills from junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton), to take a 7-2 lead.
- A five-point run later in the set on the serve of junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) which featured a kill and a block by junior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) pushed the lead out to 17-8. Valpo would cruise from there, with a kill from sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) eventually closing out the set and evening the match at 1-1.
- The two squads were tied at 6-6 early in set three until the Bears reeled off a 6-1 run to take control. Valpo totaled just seven kills in the set as Missouri State went on to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
- The battle for control of the fourth set lasted until 7-7, at which point it was the Crusaders who put together a run. Two kills and a block by freshman Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) highlighted a 7-2 stretch for Valpo as it pulled out to a 14-9 lead.
- Missouri State got no closer than four points the rest of the way, as the two teams sided out on 14 consecutive serves before Valpo put together two straight points twice late. A kill from freshman Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) closed out the fourth frame in Valpo’s favor and forced the decisive fifth set.
- Going the distance for a second straight night, Valpo opened the fifth set with two straight points before Missouri State scored four of the next five to take the lead, 4-3.
- Valpo responded with the next three points, including a service ace by junior Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic), to go up 6-4, and eventually pushed its advantage to 9-6 on a Grant kill.
- But Missouri State scored the next five points to turn the tables, pulling ahead 11-9. An MSU error and a block from Cummings and junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) briefly tied the deciding set at 11-all, but the Bears closed the match with the final four points in a row.
Inside the Match
- Coming off a five-set win at Southern Illinois Friday night, Valpo went the distance with Missouri State on Saturday as well. It was the first time the Crusaders have played consecutive five-set matches since Nov. 2 (at Loyola) and 9 (Bradley) last season, and the first time that it has happened in a 24-hour span since Aug. 26 (Hofstra) and 27 (Army West Point) of 2016.
- Cookerly led all players on Saturday evening with 33 digs, the only player on either side to even crack the 20-dig mark. It is the second time this year and fourth time in her career that the junior has finished a match with at least 30 digs.
- With 1,956 career digs, Cookerly is now just two away from Allison Ketcham’s total of 1,958 which currently ranks fourth in program history.
- Saturday also saw Cookerly zoom right past the 500-dig mark for the season. With 531 digs now on the year, she is just 71 away from moving into Valpo’s single-season top-10 for the third time in her career.
- Cummings had a career night at the net defensively, as she was in on six of Valpo’s nine team blocks to set a career best in the category.
- Anderson posted her second double-double of the weekend with 32 assists and 13 digs, while Grant and Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) tallied 12 and 11 kills, respectively.
Valpo (11-17, 6-8 MVC) faces its final home weekend of the Valley slate next weekend, starting with a Friday night match against Illinois State. First serve is slated for 6 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.