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Volleyball Splits on First Day at Kent State

The Valpo volleyball team split a pair of matches Friday on its first day of action at the Golden Flashes Classic in Kent, Ohio, sweeping Idaho State in the opener (25-19, 25-23, 25-16) before falling in a five-set battle against host Kent State in the nightcap (22-25, 25-17, 25-19, 26-28, 15-11).

How It Happened – Idaho State
– Valpo led for the vast majority of the first set, but saw Idaho State cut into its lead late, as a 19-13 advantage got sliced to three points at 20-17.
– After the teams traded sideouts, Valpo would score four of the set’s final five points, with each of its last two points coming on kills by sophomore Jillie Grant (Maumee, Ohio/Anthony Wayne) to claim the opener.
– A five-point run in the middle of the second set, featuring two blocks and a kill from freshman Kara Cooper (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte), turned a 10-8 Valpo deficit into a 13-10 advantage.
– ISU would tie the set twice after that point, at 14-14 and 20-20. The latter tie was followed by a kill from Grant and a block by Cooper and junior Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) to give Valpo the lead for good at 22-20. The teams traded sideouts the rest of the way, with Valpo converting its second set point chance thanks to a service error by the Bengals.
– The third set was tied at 11-11 before Valpo closed the match with 14 of the final 19 points. Bulmahn had a pair of kills early on in the run, while junior Peyton McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) slammed the door late with four kills in the span of five points. Freshman Bella Ravotto (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) accounted for the last two Valpo points of the sweep with kills.

How It Happened – Kent State
– The Golden Flashes led for much of the first set and were ahead late at 19-18, but kills by junior Ally Cummings (Novi, Mich./Novi), Ravotto and Cooper were part of a four-point spurt which put Valpo ahead 22-19.
– Kent State came back with the next two points to close within 22-21. The teams traded sideouts before a Bulmahn kill gave Valpo set point at 24-22, and junior Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) delivered a service ace to close the opener in Valpo’s favor.
– Kent State led the second set start-to-finish. An early four-point spurt opened up a 7-2 lead for the Golden Flashes, and Valpo would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
– With the third set tied at 7-7, Kent State scored 13 of the next 18 points to pull away, 20-12. Valpo came back with seven of the next nine points to close to within 22-19, but the Golden Flashes closed the set with three straight to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
– The fourth set was the most tightly contested of the match, featuring 11 ties and six lead changes. It looked like Valpo had control of the frame when McCarthy recorded a kill to make it 22-18, but Kent State came back with five of the next points to tie things up at 23-23.
– The next point looked like it would be a Kent State kill to give the Golden Flashes match point, but a challenge by head coach Carin Avery revealed a net violation to instead give Valpo set point at 24-23. Kent State would hold off two Valpo set point chances and earn an actual match point chance at 26-25.
– Grant tallied a kill to keep Valpo’s hopes alive, and a kill by McCarthy gave Valpo a third chance to extend the match to a fifth set at 27-26. An attack from Ravotto was initially ruled out, but another challenge by Avery resulted in a reversed point – this time on a touch by Kent State – to close the fourth set in Valpo’s favor.
– Valpo looked like it would control the fifth set all the way, jumping out quickly to a 6-1 advantage. The lead was still four points at 11-7 following a McCarthy kill, but Kent State ended the match on an 8-0 run.

Inside the Matches
– Bulmahn tied for team-high honors in the opener with 10 kills on .348 hitting, setting a new career high, and added three blocks as well.
– Grant picked up double-doubles in both matches, highlighted by a career-best 17 kills on .298 hitting in the nightcap. The sophomore finished the sweep of Idaho State with 10 kills and 12 digs, and then tallied 17 kills and 16 digs against Kent State.
– McCarthy finished the day with 22 total kills, registering nine on .533 hitting against ISU and following with 13 versus Kent State.
– Cooper was strong at the net in both matches, leading all players with five blocks in the Idaho State match and then finished with a team-high six rejections against Kent State.
– Cookerly totaled 36 digs on the day – 20 versus Idaho State, 16 versus Kent State – and now has 1,530 career digs, in the process moving into eighth place in program history.
– Freshman Leah Pease (Petaluma, Calif./Marin Catholic) tallied a season-high 30 assists in the nightcap and also registered a season-best 15 digs.
– Rookie MaKayla Geise (Story City, Iowa/Roland-Story) made her Valpo debut in the third set versus Idaho State and registered a kill on her first career attack.
– Valpo’s .235 hitting percentage in the early victory over the Bengals was its best effort to date this year.

Next Up
Valpo (3-3) closes out the Golden Flashes Classic on Saturday with a noon CT matchup against Robert Morris.