Crusaders Take Down Rhode Island On Final Day at Notre Dame

 The Valparaiso University volleyball team split a pair of matches on the final day of action at the Golden Dome Invitational from Notre Dame, Ind., falling to New Mexico State, 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-20) before sweeping Rhode Island, 3-0 (25-19, 26-24, 25-17) on Saturday. Two of Valpo’s freshmen – Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) and Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) – represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team.

How It Happened – NMSU 

–          Valpo utilized a strong attack in the opening set to claim the first frame against NMSU, hitting .278 with 16 kills in the 25-21 win. After jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead, Valpo actually trailed fairly late at 19-18 before scoring seven of the final nine points of the set to claim the opener.

–          The Aggies would win each of the final three sets, however, to earn the 3-1 victory. The Crusaders had a strong defensive showing in the third set, holding NMSU to .143 hitting, but hit just .098 themselves in that frame. Then, in the fourth set, Valpo posted a .273 hitting percentage on the attack, but the Aggies hit at a .353 clip to close out the match.

How It Happened – Rhode Island

–          Valpo jumped out to a lead against the Rams thanks to a strong defensive effort in the opener, holding Rhode Island to -.081 hitting in the first set. The Crusaders tallied five team blocks in the first frame against URI, with junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) in on all five rejections.

–          The second set was a back-and-forth affair, featuring 10 tie scores and five lead changes. Valpo actually faced a Rhode Island set point at 24-23, but back-to-back kills from Bronner turned the tables and gave the Crusaders a chance to take the 2-0 lead, and an attack error by the Rams closed the set in Valpo’s favor.

–          The block again was a vital factor as the Crusaders closed out the sweep, as Valpo tallied six team blocks in the third frame. Rhode Island led the set approaching the midway point at 11-9, but Valpo reeled off a 7-0 run – featuring kills by four different attackers – to claim the lead for good.

Inside the Matches

–          Three different Crusaders reached double figures in kills against NMSU, as senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) and junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) each tallied a team-best 11 terminations while freshman Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) added 10 kills.

–          Carlson was also one of four Crusaders to finish in double figures in digs, as she registered 17 digs to complete her double-double. Cookerly posted a team-best 24 digs against NMSU, while redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) recorded 16 digs and Anderson totaled 14 digs to go with a match-best 40 assists for a double-double.

–          Graboski was in on seven of Valpo’s 11 team blocks in the matchup with the Aggies.

–          The Crusader outsides enjoyed strong defensive matches in the sweep of Rhode Island, as Ketcham recorded a match-best 23 digs and Carlson posted 22 digs to go with a team-high nine kills.

–           It was also a strong effort at the net from the Crusaders against the Rams, as Valpo tallied 14 team blocks in the sweep – just one shy of the program’s top-five in a three-set match. Bronner posted a new career high with eight rejections to lead the way.

–          Anderson and Cookerly received All-Tournament honors in their first collegiate action. Anderson averaged eight assists per set while also chipping in seven kills and seven blocks, while Cookerly set a program record for digs in a match Friday evening versus Notre Dame en route to averaging 6.64 digs/set for the weekend.


Next Up


Valpo (1-2) returns to action next weekend at the Jackrabbits Invitational in Brookings, S.D. Tournament play opens for the Crusaders Friday afternoon, Sept. 1, against Cal State Bakersfield.