14 kills from sophomore Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) and a career-best eight blocks from senior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) led the way for the Valparaiso University volleyball team Friday evening as it opened the Crusader Classic at the ARC with a 3-1 (25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20) win over Cornell.
How It Happened
- As it has so often early this season for Valpo, the offense was clicking on all cylinders in the opening set, as it hit .464 with 14 kills in the first frame. The lead was just three points at 14-11 before a 6-1 spurt – including two kills by senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) – gave the Brown and Gold breathing room as they claimed the opener.
- Valpo would have to grind the rest of the match, however, as it hit at just a .104 clip over the final three sets. A back-and-forth second set saw back-to-back Valpo attack errors give Cornell a 20-18 advantage late, but a perfectly timed setter dump from sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) was followed by a block by McCarthy and senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) to even the set at 20-20.
- Anderson stepped back to the service line and delivered an ace to give Valpo the 21-20 lead and force a Cornell timeout. The stoppage didn’t slow Valpo’s momentum, however, as it went to Zaleski for back-to-back kills to extend the advantage to 23-20. Anderson then did the rest of the work herself, tallying two more service aces to close the frame and give Valpo a 2-0 lead.
- The third set went the way of the Big Red, as with the two sides tied late at 21-all, Cornell reeled off four of the final five points to push the match to a fourth set.
- Valpo took control of the fourth set around the midway point, as a 6-2 push – which included two blocks and a kill by Zaleski – extended the lead to 16-10. The lead was still six late at 23-17 before Cornell rattled off three straight points, but consecutive kills from senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) closed out the victory.
Inside the Match
- Friday’s win improved Valpo’s record to 10-2 on the year – the fourth time in the last six seasons that Valpo has won at least 10 of its first 12 matches.
- Valpo is now 27-5 in 10 in-season tournaments at home under head coach Carin Avery.
- Zaleski set a new career high in the blocks category with her eight rejections on Friday, surpassing her previous high of seven set back in her freshman year. She also chipped in eight kills in the win.
- Anderson posted a career-best four service aces as Valpo rattled off nine aces as a team to match a season high.
- McCarthy reached double figures in kills for the fourth time this year with her match-best 14 terminations on .345 hitting. The sophomore added five blocks as well.
- As a team, Valpo posted 10 blocks to reach double figures in the category for the fifth time this year.
- Valpo earned the win Friday evening despite hitting just .170 on the attack over the four sets – the team’s second-worst single-match hitting percentage of the season.
- In the first match of the tournament, Wright State swept Western Illinois in straight sets.
Valpo (10-2) closes out hosting of the Crusader Classic on a busy Saturday at the ARC. Four matches in total will be held, beginning with Cornell taking on Wright State at 10 a.m. Valpo’s day begins with a matchup against Western Illinois at 12:30 p.m. The evening session features Western Illinois versus Cornell at 4:30 p.m. before the tournament concludes with a Wright State-Valpo showdown at 7 p.m. Both of Valpo’s matches will be broadcast live on ESPN+.