Valpo Battles #20 Michigan Tuesday Night

 

The Valparaiso University volleyball team faced its strongest test of the 2018 season on Tuesday evening in Ann Arbor, Mich., battling gamely but falling in straight sets (25-19, 25-13, 25-20) to host Michigan.

 

How It Happened

–          After Valpo led briefly early in the first set, a 6-0 run gave the Maize and Blue a 9-4 advantage. While Valpo would never tie the score again in the frame, it fought back to within one point on a number of occasions, and late in the set, got within 21-19 following consecutive kills from senior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and sophomore Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon). But Michigan would score the final four points of the set to claim the opener.

–          Michigan’s defense limited Valpo to just five kills and a negative hitting percentage in the second set as the Wolverines led nearly start-to-finish to go ahead two sets to none.

–          Valpo bounced back in the third set with its best single-set hitting percentage of the night, swinging at a .217 clip, but unfortunately for the Brown and Gold, Michigan hit .467 in the final frame. It looked like the Wolverines might close out the match with ease at 23-16, but Valpo put together four straight points – including two kills by sophomore Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi) – to pull to within 23-20 and force a Michigan timeout. But out of the stoppage, back-to-back points closed out the sweep in the Wolverines’ favor.

 

Inside the Match

–          Tuesday’s matchup was just Valpo’s second against a Big Ten squad in the last five years, but did mark the fourth time in the last two seasons the Brown and Gold had faced a nationally ranked team, as Valpo took on three top-25 matchups in MVC play last season.

–          Cummings enjoyed a strong match off the bench, posting seven kills on just 12 swings without an error to finish the match at a .583 clip on the attack.

–          Fellow sophomore Bulmahn paced Valpo on offense with nine kills, hitting .273.

–          Michigan’s strong offensive attack (47 kills on .363 hitting) limited Valpo to just 27 digs for the match. Sophomore libero Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) was held to a career low-tying six digs over the three sets.

–          Tuesday’s loss snapped Valpo’s six-match winning streak, which was its longest since opening the 2015 campaign with nine straight wins.

 

Next Up

Valpo (6-2) heads out west to Colorado for the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic, hosted by Air Force. The three-match tournament gets underway for Valpo against the hosts on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT.