It was a night to celebrate for the Valparaiso University volleyball team Friday evening in Terre Haute, Ind. Not only did Valpo open Missouri Valley Conference play with a road sweep of Indiana State (27-25, 25-20, 25-20), but a pair of senior outside hitters – Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) – both hit the 1,000-kill milestone for their respective careers and became just the eighth and ninth Valpo players all-time to join the 1,000-kill/1,000-dig club. The victory also matched Valpo’s best start through 16 matches in program history.
How It Happened
- The first set was a battle to gain control, as both squads had multiple runs of four or more points in an effort to claim the all-important opener. Valpo trailed 20-17 approaching the late stages of the set, but reeled off six of the next seven points – capped by back-to-back kills from sophomore Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) – to go ahead 23-21.
- Indiana State responded with the next two points to even the frame at 23-all, and the teams traded sideouts in the next two rotations, as the Sycamores held off Valpo set point chances at 24-23 and 25-24. But Valpo earned a third set opportunity at 26-25 following a kill by senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth), and Bronner came up with another kill to give Valpo the opener.
- Valpo would lead start-to-finish in the second set, getting out to an early lead thanks to the efforts of Ketcham on the attack. Ketcham entered the second frame with 997 career terminations, and picked up kills on three of Valpo’s first five points of the set, hitting the 1,000-kill milestone with the point which made it 5-3 Valpo.
- A 6-1 spurt midway through the set gave Valpo a comfortable advantage at 16-9. The Sycamores closed to within 20-17 later in the frame, but back-to-back kills from Carlson restored a five-point lead for Valpo and the teams would merely trade sideouts the rest of the way as Valpo claimed the second set.
- Valpo exploded to an early lead in set three in its search of the sweep, scoring 10 of the set’s first 11 points. Carlson picked up three kills during the early run, including a power tip to make it 6-1 which marked the 1,000th kill of her career.
- Indiana State would rally later in the set and actually closed to within two points at 19-17. But a kill from Ketcham was followed by a service ace by junior Alana Brown (Napa, Calif./Vintage) to make it a four-point lead and hold off the Sycamores. The sweep was completed at the first opportunity thanks to a kill from freshman Haley Hart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East).
Inside the Match
- By virtue of being the first of the two senior outsides to crack 1,000 career kills on Friday, Ketcham became the eighth member of Valpo’s 1,000-kill/1,000-dig club. Ketcham closed the sweep with a team-high 11 kills and now owns 1,005 career kills.
- Ketcham also tallied 12 digs for her sixth double-double of the year and the 37th double-double of her career. She enters Saturday with 1,620 career digs – just 34 shy of becoming the most productive non-libero in the category in program history.
- Just 26 Valpo points after Ketcham reached the milestone, Carlson hit 1,000 career kills as well and joined Ketcham as the ninth member of Valpo’s 1,000-kill/1,000-dig club. Carlson picked up 10 kills in Friday’s sweep and sits at 1,001 kills following the win.
- Carlson has been a productive six-rotation player for Valpo as well and tallied 10 digs against the Sycamores for her sixth double-double of the year as well. She now has recorded 36 career double-doubles.
- Friday’s win improved Valpo’s record to 14-2 on the year, matching the best record by a Valpo squad through 16 matches in program history. Both the 2014 and 2015 teams also opened the year 14-2 through 16 contests.
- The win over the Sycamores was the eighth straight victory for Valpo – the 12th time in the tenure of head coach Carin Avery that Valpo has picked up at least eight consecutive wins.
- Friday’s result flipped the script from last year’s results, as Valpo dropped both matches against Indiana State in its first season as a member of the Valley – 3-0 at the ARC and 3-1 at Terre Haute.
- It also marks a departure from the start of conference play last year for Valpo. Last year’s squad entered MVC action on a five-match winning streak, but ended up dropping each of its first three conference matches.
- Senior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) added eight kills on ..261 hitting off the bench to back up Ketcham and Carlson’s efforts on the outside in the sweep.
- Sophomore Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 32 assists and tallied seven digs and three blocks as well.
- Sophomore Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) enjoyed easily her most productive three-set match of the season, recording 24 digs in the sweep – 11 of which came in the first set alone.
Thoughts From Coach Avery
“It was a very special night tonight – not only to open conference play with a victory this season, but for Allison and Katherine in their great accomplishments.”
“We knew when we recruited both Allison and Katherine that they would be special players for us, and we specifically wanted them because they were amazing, complete six-rotation players. They have both lived up to every expectation that we had for them. Tonight, they were added to a list of special players in Valpo Volleyball history and it is much deserved – they are not only great players, but they are great representatives of the Valpo Volleyball program and of Valparaiso University. They epitomize what we stand for, as they are truly champions in competition, in the classroom and in the community.”
Valpo (14-2, 1-0 MVC) looks to continue rolling Saturday night at Evansville. First serve is slated for 7 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN3.