Highlighted by a stellar performance in her collegiate debut from freshman outside Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and a strong effort on both sides of the net by junior middle Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton), the Valparaiso University volleyball team opened the 2019 campaign with a 3-1 (25-20, 14-25, 25-18, 25-20) victory over defending OVC champion Murray State Friday evening in Indianapolis.
How It Happened
- Valpo took advantage of 12 Murray State attack errors in the opening frame to claim the first set. The Racers jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead, but Valpo battled back with eight of the next 10 points to go ahead 9-7.
- Then, with the score tied 11-all, Valpo went on a 6-0 run on the serve of junior setter Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) to pull out to a 17-11 advantage. The lead would remain at least four points the rest of the set, with a McCarthy kill eventually ending the opener in Valpo’s favor.
- Murray State’s offense did a 180 from the first set to the second, however. The Racers hit .462 with 20 kills in the second set and never trailed to even the match at a set apiece.
- Valpo led 5-2 early in the third set before the Racers rallied, eventually pulling out to a 10-8 advantage. But another 6-0 run on Anderson’s serve – this one featuring kills by three different players and a solo block by McCarthy to cap it – pushed Valpo in front, 14-10.
- The lead would fluctuate between two and five points for the next stretch, with Murray State pulling within two late at 20-18. A kill by junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) returned the serve to Valpo, and fittingly, it would be Anderson who served out the set and finished things up with a service ace to give Valpo the 2-1 lead in the match.
- The fourth set proved to be the most tightly contested of the match, featuring 10 ties and five lead changes. A five-point run mid-frame, which included kills by Bulmahn and sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and a block from Bulmahn and freshman Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte), turned a one-point deficit for Valpo into a 17-13 lead.
- Murray State would get no closer than three points the rest of the way, as Valpo closed out the match with an offensive burst, scoring six of its final seven points of the match on kills, including the deciding point on its second match point chance thanks to a kill by McCarthy.
Inside the Match
- Ravotto enjoyed the type of performance not usually seen by a Valpo freshman in the first match of her career. The rookie tied for team-high honors with 11 kills, hitting at a .310 clip, and posted 15 digs as well to finish with a double-double.
- Ravotto tallied the most kills by a Valpo freshman in her debut since Angie Porché recorded 14 kills against UIC in the 2006 opener. Moreover, Ravotto is the first Valpo freshman since at least 1998 to register a kills/digs double-double in her debut.
- Meanwhile, McCarthy got the job done in the middle for Valpo Friday night. The junior matched Ravotto with 11 kills and did so on a match-best .400 hitting. She also led all players with four blocks and chipped in a career-high five digs as well.
- Speaking of career highs, Grant set career highs for kills (6) and attacks (35), while Bulmahn set a new career best with three blocks.
- Three freshmen made their debuts on Friday, as Ravotto and Cooper (3 kills, 3 blocks) were joined by rookie setter Leah Pease (Petaluma, Calif./Marin Catholic). Pease finished her first career match with 17 assists and eight digs.
- Anderson tallied 23 assists and six digs in Friday’s win, along the way moving into seventh place in program history in career assists, surpassing Kelly Olson. With 2,797 assists, Anderson now sits 137 assists behind Jenny Pokorny in sixth position.
- Friday’s win leaves head coach Carin Avery just one win shy of 400 during her time at Valpo.
- The win was Valpo’s first in a season opener since 2016. The Brown and Gold now are a perfect 4-0 all-time versus Murray State.
Valpo (1-0) will conclude the Hampton Inn Invitational with a pair of matches on Saturday. Morning volleyball is first on the docket, with first serve against South Dakota slated for 9 a.m. CT. The tournament then concludes with a matchup against host IUPUI at 6 p.m. Both matches will have live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.