The Valpo volleyball team enjoyed a two-set advantage at the ARC Friday night in MVC play against Illinois State, and earned a match point in the third set, but the Redbirds went on to rally for a 3-2 (19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 15-8) win over Valpo. Sophomore Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) enjoyed perhaps the best match of her career in the losing effort.
How It Happened
- Valpo came out like a house on fire in the opening set defensively, as eight of its first 21 points of the match came on blocks. Three of those blocks – all of which Hart was part of – came as part of a 6-1 run mid-set, which also included service aces by junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) and freshman Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), to extend a two-point lead to seven at 17-10.
- Illinois State got no closer than four points the rest of the way in the opener, with junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) eventually ending the first set with a kill on Valpo’s first opportunity to take the frame.
- Valpo led through the early stages of set two, but passing the halfway mark, it was the Redbirds who took the lead as a four-point spurt put ISU ahead 14-12.
- Valpo answered with four straight points of its own, however, including kills by McCarthy and junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) to pull back in front, 16-14.
- Six times after that point, Illinois State moved within one point, but each time Valpo sided out to keep the Redbirds from evening the score. The sixth and final sideout came courtesy of another kill from McCarthy, giving Valpo set point at 24-22, and with her first serve of the match, sophomore Gabby Daniels (Mill Valley, Calif./Saint Francis) delivered a service ace to give Valpo the 2-0 lead in the match.
- Illinois State led past the halfway mark of the third set, but three blocks were part of a 7-2 Valpo run which turned a 14-12 deficit into a 19-16 lead.
- The teams traded sideouts the next five serves before Illinois State recorded back-to-back points to close to within 21-20. But McCarthy came up with kills at both 21-20 and 22-21 to restore a two-point Valpo advantage.
- The Redbirds tallied consecutive points to tie the third set at 23 apiece before a kill by Hart gave Valpo match point at 24-23. But ISU scored the next point on a Monica Miller kill, kicking off a 4-1 spurt to close the set and extend the match.
- Illinois State jumped way out in front to start set four, opening up an 8-2 lead quickly. Valpo responded just as quickly, however, as trailing 10-4, eight of the next 11 points went the way of the Brown and Gold to close to within 13-12.
- The Crusaders could never tie the set, though, as the Redbirds scored the next three points to gain some separation. ISU’s lead was at least two points the rest of the way as the match went to a decisive fifth set.
- The two squads traded the first six points of the fifth before Illinois State scored three straight to take the lead for good. Valpo moved within one point three times, the latest coming at 8-7, but the Redbirds ended the match on a 7-1 run to cap the comeback.
Inside the Match
- Hart finished the night with a season-high 12 kills on .550 hitting, needing just 20 swings and committing just one attack error. Her .550 hitting percentage is the second-best by a Valpo player in a five-set match in the 25-point era, and the third-best overall in a five-set match in program history.
- Meanwhile, Hart also paced the Valpo effort defensively at the net with eight blocks, tying a career-high in that category as well.
- Hart’s eight rejections were part of a 16-block effort from Valpo Friday night, its second-highest total of the season. The mark ranks fifth in a five-set match in Valpo’s 25-point era record book.
- McCarthy led Valpo offensively with 15 kills, hitting .316, and was part of six blocks as well.
- Bulmahn tallied 11 kills and four blocks Friday evening, while junior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) chipped in 10 kills on .296 hitting and four blocks as well.
- Junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) posted a double-double, registering 47 assists and 12 digs.
- Cookerly recorded a team-best 24 digs in the losing effort. With her third dig of the match, the junior passed Allison Ketcham for fourth in program history in career digs, and she will enter Saturday’s home finale with 1,980 career digs.
- Friday’s match was the third straight contest that has gone the full five sets for Valpo. Not only is it the first time in the tenure of head coach Carin Avery that the Crusaders have played three straight five-set matches, you have to go all the way back to October of 1988 to find the last back-to-back-to-back full-length matches.
Valpo (11-18, 6-9 MVC) closes out the 2019 home campaign on Saturday evening at the ARC against Bradley at 5 p.m. It will be Senior Night for Valpo, as the program celebrates the careers of seniors Alana Brown and Brooke Westphal. The match can be seen live on ESPN3.