25 days ago, it was the worst possible outcome for a volleyball team: losing three sets to two after having a 2-0 lead in the match. Friday night, the Valpo volleyball team flipped the script at Drake, rallying from a two-set deficit to earn a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs – mirroring the outcome from the teams’ first meeting of the season.
How It Happened
- A back-and-forth opening set featured 12 ties and four lead changes. Valpo looked like it gained control with an 8-2 run in the middle of the frame, as junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) had four kills during the stretch which turned a 13-11 deficit into a 19-15 lead.
- But errors would catch up to Valpo, as Drake ended the set on a 10-3 spurt to take the opener, with eight of the 10 points coming on Valpo errors.
- The second set was all Drake pretty much start to finish, as the Bulldogs hit .500 to claim a 2-0 lead in the match.
- With the Bulldogs gunning for a potential sweep, the third set was a topsy-turvy affair, with 12 ties and eight lead changes. It’s not as if all the lead changes occurred early on, either, as the late stages of the set was littered with swings back and forth.
- Valpo led 14-11 just past the halfway mark of the third frame, but Drake scored six of the next eight to set up the run to 25. Valpo responded with two in a row to retake the lead, 18-17, and then sided out twice in a row when Drake had evened the frame before the Bulldogs’ third effort to regain the advantage was successful, putting them ahead 21-20.
- Valpo answered with consecutive kills from Bulmahn and freshman Maddy Boyer (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) to pull back in front, 22-21, but Drake countered with a kill and a block to go ahead, 23-22.
- A termination by freshman Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) tied the set for the 12th and final time at 23-all, and a Drake hitting error gave Valpo its first set point. Junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) took care to make sure that it would take just one opportunity to close out the set, putting down a kill to end the frame in Valpo’s favor and advance the match to a fourth set.
- After a stressful close to the third set, the fourth set was relatively benign, as Valpo seized total control with a 9-2 run – including three kills by Bulmahn – which gave it a 15-9 advantage. It took Valpo four set points to force the decisive fifth set, but given it had a nine-point edge on the first set-point chance, the buffer was still plenty as another Bulmahn kill sent the match to the final frame.
- It was a quick start to the fifth set for Valpo, as a Drake attack error, a kill by sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) and a block from McCarthy and Boyer pushed Valpo to an early 3-0 lead.
- After Drake closed to within 4-3, Valpo reeled off four straight – two on kills by Grant and McCarthy, and two thanks to Drake hitting errors – to hold a five-point lead at the changeover.
- Momentum shifted quickly, however. After the teams traded sideouts, Drake scored seven of the next eight points to take its first lead of the decisive set at 11-10.
- A Hart kill snapped the Drake spurt, and Boyer followed with another kill to push Valpo back in front, 12-11. The Bulldogs briefly evened things up once again with a kill before Hart tallied her third kill of the final set to make it 13-12 Valpo.
- Grant put down an overpass to give Valpo match point at 14-12, and the comeback was completed courtesy of a block from McCarthy and Boyer.
Inside the Match
- This marks the first time in the tenure of head coach Carin Avery that Valpo has been on both sides of an 0-2 deficit turning into a 3-2 win against the same opponent in the same season.
- Last season, Valpo rallied twice against Loyola from down two sets to earn 3-2 wins.
- This is the 11th time overall in Avery’s time guiding Valpo that it has rallied from down 0-2 to earn a 3-2 victory.
- Four of Valpo’s last five matches have gone the full five sets after the Brown and Gold had played just five extra sets past the minimum three per match over their first 12 MVC matches of the year.
- An up-and-down attacking night saw Valpo out-kill Drake 71-53 on the evening, but also commit 38 attack errors to the Bulldogs’ 19 as DU out-hit Valpo, .193-.163.
- But Valpo turned around the accuracy in the final two frames, hitting .250 in the last two sets with just nine combined attack errors.
- McCarthy led all players on Friday night with 18 kills, swinging at a .342 clip, and also paced Valpo at the net as she joined in on seven of the Crusaders’ 10 team blocks.
- Bulmahn and Grant added 15 kills apiece as well to round out the trio in double figures. For Bulmahn, her 15 kills tied a career best, while for Grant, she tallied a double-double with 15 digs as well.
- Junior Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) handed out 55 assists Friday evening as Valpo tallied team single-match highs this year with 71 kills and 67 assists.
- Junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led the back-row effort with 26 digs to pace all players on Friday. In the process, Cookerly surpassed 600 digs for the season and now sits 10th on Valpo’s single-season record book with 604 digs this year.
- Sophomore Gabby Daniels (Mill Valley, Calif./Saint Francis) set a career high in the back with 12 digs and Boyer set a new mark of her own with four blocks at the net.
- Valpo utilized 14 of the 18 players it had dressed over the course of Friday’s victory.
Valpo (13-18, 8-9) closes out the regular season Saturday night at 7 p.m. at UNI. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.