The Valparaiso University volleyball team claimed tournament hardware for a third straight weekend on Saturday evening, this time doing so by defending its home court at the ARC with a 3-1 (13-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-17) victory over Wright State in the championship match of the Crusader Classic. Valpo positioned itself for the potential title with an easy 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-14) win over Western Illinois earlier on Saturday.
Sophomore Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) was named MVP of the Crusader Classic, the first tournament MVP honor of her career, while classmate Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) and senior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) joined McCarthy to represent Valpo on the All-Tournament Team.
How It Happened – Western Illinois
- An early 8-2 run in the first set pushed Valpo’s lead to 10-4. Cummings drew the starting assignment against the Leathernecks and had three kills during the early spurt.
- With the advantage sliced to four points at 12-8, Valpo reeled off five straight points – kick-started by three consecutive kills from McCarthy – to take control.
- The second set proved to be the tightest of the match, as the teams were tied on five occasions. The last tie came at 15-15 before Valpo took advantage of a trio of WIU errors as part of a four-point spurt to go ahead 19-15.
- The Leathernecks closed within 20-18, but Valpo would score the next four points – including two kills and a block by freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) – en route to going ahead two sets to none.
- Valpo took control of the third and final set early on, as three kills in a row from McCarthy started off an 8-1 run which gave the Brown and Gold a 15-6 lead. McCarthy would cap the run with a service ace – just her second of the season – as Valpo cruised to the sweep.
How It Happened – Wright State
- The outset of the tournament title match was not kind to Valpo, as the Raiders – who entered the title match with eight victories already this year, including a win over West Virginia – put together a 13-1 run in the opening set and hit .393 for the frame in easily claiming the 1-0 lead.
- A big run in the second set proved to be key as well, but this one went in Valpo’s favor as sophomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) served an 11-0 run which turned a 9-9 score into a 20-9 lead. McCarthy had two kills and a block during the run, while sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) was part of two rejections and had a kill of her own in the run as well.
- Valpo held a slim lead at 12-10 of the third set before reeling off seven of the next eight points to pull away. Carlson had a pair of kills during the stretch, while fellow senior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) punctuated the run with a solo block.
- The Brown and Gold never gave the Raiders a chance in the fourth and final set, scoring the first six points on the way to a 17-4 lead. Valpo earned championship point at 24-12, and while Wright State scored five straight to close the gap, but Carlson would cap the victory with a kill out of the back row as Valpo won for the 12th time this season.
Inside the Matches
- Saturday’s pair of victories push Valpo’s record to 12-2 on the year, just the fourth time in program history (2010, 2014, 2015) that it has won at least 12 times in its first 14 matches.
- Cummings led the way in the win over WIU with 13 kills on .632 hitting as Valpo hit at a .356 clip for the match – the fifth time this year the team has hit .300 or better.
- Cummings had plenty of help in the early-afternoon victory, however. McCarthy finished with nine kills on .583 hitting, senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) needed just 10 swings to hit .700 with seven kills, and Hart tallied five kills on just seven attacks.
- Ketcham set a career best with four service aces to lead Valpo as it matched its season high for the second straight match with nine aces.
- Anderson handed out 37 assists in the win over the Leathernecks, converted for kills on both of her attacks and added a pair of aces as well.
- Valpo’s defense limited WIU to just 18 kills on .071 hitting over the three sets.
- While it was the middles and the right side who stood out offensively against Western Illinois, the outsides led the way on the attack in the championship win over Wright State. Carlson set a new season high with 16 kills on .441 hitting, committing just one attack error, while Ketcham tallied 12 kills as well.
- Carlson also set a season high with 21 digs to pace the Valpo effort in the back row. Cookerly registered 20 digs as well, while Anderson finished with 14 digs to go with 40 assists. Valpo limited Wright State to just .015 hitting over the final three sets.
- McCarthy was in on six of Valpo’s 10 team blocks in the win over the Raiders, and Ketcham tied her career best with four blocks, including a pair of solo rejections.
Inside the Tournament
- Valpo finished as tournament champion with a 3-0 record, while Wright State finished second at 2-1. Cornell placed third at 1-2 and Western Illinois rounded out the field at 0-3.
- Saturday’s morning match saw Wright State claim a hard-fought five-set battle with Cornell. The Big Red bounced back with a straight-set victory over Western Illinois.
- McCarthy was tabbed tournament MVP as she averaged 3.10 kills/set on .323 hitting and 1.20 blocks/set over the three wins.
- Carlson picked up All-Tournament honors for a second straight weekend as she posted 2.70 kills/set on .274 hitting to go with 3.70 digs/set.
- Cummings picked up the second All-Tournament accolade of her career as she hit .421 with an even 3.00 kills/set over Saturday’s two wins.
- Joining the Valpo trio on the All-Tournament Team were Jenna Story and Alannah Lemming from Wright State, Lily Barber from Cornell and Mariah Mitchell from Western Illinois.
Inside the Championship
- Saturday’s victories secured a tournament title for the third straight weekend for the Brown and Gold, as championships at Central Michigan, Air Force and Valpo have made their way to Union Street this season.
- This marks the fourth time in the tenure of head coach Carin Avery that Valpo has won three in-season tournaments. Oddly enough, it’s been exactly four years between each occurrence – 2006, 2010, 2014, and now 2018.
- Valpo has now won six home in-season tournaments under Avery out of 10 total tournaments that it has hosted. This year’s squad joins the 2002, 2003, 2005, 2013, and 2014 squads as claiming their own tournament hardware.
Valpo (12-2) looks for momentum into MVC play from its final non-conference match of the season Tuesday evening at Purdue Fort Wayne. First serve is slated for 5 p.m. CT from Fort Wayne.