#19 Northern Iowa Fights Off Match Point to Top Valparaiso in 5

  0 Bill Stadick | October 22nd, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News


  • #19 Northern Iowa def. Valparaiso 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 29-27, 15-9)
  • Northern Iowa moves to 20-5 overall, 10-1 Missouri Valley
  • Valparaiso drops to 12-11 overall, 4-6 Missouri Valley
  • Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Attendance: 2,875
  • Box Score
  • VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings (Week 9)

After fighting off one Valparaiso match point in the fourth frame, the #19 Northern Iowa Panthers defeated the Crusaders in five sets, reaching 20 wins for the 35th time in program history.

The host Panthers were led offensively by junior outside Piper Thomas, who notched 22 kills. Sophomore outside Karlie Taylor recorded her eight straight double-double (19 kills, 14 blocks), while junior Bri Weber anchored the Panther’s defense with 25 digs.

Valparaiso freshman Rylee Cookerly led all defenders with 29 digs in a matchup between the two best digging teams in NCAA Division I. For the match, Northern Iowa tallied 105 total digs, while the Crusaders added 96.

The visitor’s offense was led by senior middle Taylor Graboski, who notched 17 kills. Three Crusaders recorded double-doubles: junior outside Allison Ketcham (13 kills, 20 digs), junior outside Katherine Carlson (12 kills, 18 digs) and freshman setter Brittany Anderson (49 assists, 10 digs).

In the first set, Northern Iowa scored four of the frame’s final five points to win 25-21. The Crusaders answered in the second, earning a 25-23 victory, and followed it up with a 25-22 win in the third to push them closer to the road upset.

Knotted at 24 in the fourth frame, a Crusader block by freshman outside Jaclyn Bulmahn and junior middle Sydney Bronner gave the visitors their sole match point at 25-24. Northern Iowa junior Moriah Johnson and Taylor answered with a block of their own to tie the set, which the Panthers eventually won 29-27. In the tiebreaker set, the Panthers established an early 6-2 lead and never trailed on their way to a 15-9 victory.

Valparaiso hosts Loyola on Friday, while Northern Iowa travels to Normal, Illinois for a match against Illinois State, also on Friday.



Courtesy: Northern Iowa Athletics


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa volleyball team fought off a match point against the Valparaiso Crusaders and scored its 20th win of the season with a 3-2 triumph in the McLeod Center.

UNI won by set scores of 25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 29-27, 15-9.

The win gives UNI its 35th 20-win season in program history. The Panthers moved to 20-5 overall and 10-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Valpo fell to 12-11 overall and 4-6 in league play.

Junior Piper Thomas recorded a match-high 22 kills for the Panthers. Thomas has posted 45 kills in two matches against Valpo this season.

Sophomore Karlie Taylor set a career-high with six blocks, including five solo stuffs against the Crusaders. Taylor posted her 18th straight double-figure kill match with 19 kills and her eighth consecutive double-double with 14 digs.

Valparaiso looked to be in control of the match in the fourth set as the Crusaders opened up a 15-11 lead. After the Panthers rallied to tie the set at 20-20, the Crusaders scored back-to-back points to take a 22-20 advantage. A block of a Taylor attack by Jaclyn Bulmahn and Sydney Bronner gave Valpo a match point at 25-24.

Taylor and Moriah Johnson then rose to the occasion and secured a block on Valpo’s Katherine Carlson to square the set at 25-25. UNI would not trail the rest of the set and eventually closed out the fourth set, 29-27.

The Panthers did not trail in the fifth set in jumping out to a 6-2 lead. Valpo could only close the margin to three points and the Panthers posted a 15-9 fifth-set win.

NOTES: UNI secured a season-high 13 blocks … the Panthers won the opening set for the 19th time this season and moved to 18-1 when winning the first set … UNI is 3-2 in five-set matches this season … UNI improved to 8-0 all-time against Valpo.

Courtesy: Valparaiso Athletics

Crusaders Drop Valiant Battle at #25 UNI

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Valparaiso University volleyball team stood toe-to-toe with perennial MVC power and nationally-ranked UNI Saturday evening  in Cedar Falls, Iowa and earned a match-point chance in the fourth set, but in the end, the Panthers came out on top in a 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 29-27, 15-9) final.

How It Happened

The Panthers took the lead for good in the opening set with an early five-point spurt, turning a 6-5 Valpo advantage into a 10-6 deficit. The Crusaders pulled back within one point on five occasions in the set, the latest coming at 21-20 following a kill from senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky), but UNI scored four of the set’s final five points to take the opener.

Valpo led throughout the early part of the second set and past the halfway point until a 4-1 spurt from UNI gave it a 17-16 lead. The Crusaders responded with four straight points, including a kill from junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and a service ace by junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep), to pull ahead 20-17.

The Panthers answered with the next five points, but Valpo bounced back, as a UNI error and a block from Ketcham and junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) tied the set at 22 apiece. A UNI kill made it 23-22 Panthers before Bronner came up with a kill of her own to tie the frame for the 10th time.

An attack error from UNI gave Valpo a set point opportunity at 24-23, and the Crusaders would need just the one chance to even the match, as a Ketcham kill sent the contest into the in-game break tied at a set apiece.

UNI was the stronger squad early in set three, maintaining a lead approaching the halfway point. But a big Valpo run turned the tables, as the Crusaders turned an 11-8 deficit into a 16-11 lead with eight straight points. Ketcham picked up a pair of kills during the run, while Carlson tallied an ace, a kill and two assists in the spurt.

Valpo looked in control, maintaining the lead all the way through 22-16. But the Panthers bounced back with six straight points to put the Crusaders’ position in jeopardy, as it was a race to three points late.

Back-to-back kills from Carlson squashed the UNI run and gave Valpo set point at 24-22, and again the Crusaders needed just one chance to end the set, as a Panther error ended the third set in Valpo’s favor.

A four-point spurt early in the fourth set, which included a kill and a solo block by Bronner, put the Crusaders ahead 9-7, and freshman Melissa Flynders (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic) ended a three-point run shortly thereafter with an ace as Valpo enjoyed a 13-9 advantage past the halfway point.

UNI would not allow the Crusaders to extend the lead past four points, however, and slowly pulled back into the set, eventually tying the frame at 20-all. Consecutive kills by Graboski and Ketcham forced a Panther timeout at 22-20, but Valpo was forced to use a timeout of its own after back-to-back UNI kills following the stoppage made it 22 apiece.

A UNI service error put the Crusaders ahead 23-22, but two straight Panther points gave them set point at 24-23. An attack error forced extra points at 24-all, and Valpo moved to the verge of the victory with a block by Bronner and freshman Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) which put it ahead 25-24.

But the Crusaders were unable to convert their match point chance, as UNI came up with a block. Valpo held off two subsequent set point opportunities for the Panthers, but the hosts finished on their fourth chance to force a decisive fifth set.

UNI took control early in the final frame, jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead. The Panthers would hit .474 with 10 kills in the set, as the Crusaders were unable to draw any closer than three points the rest of the way.

Inside the Match

Valpo was in search of its first win over a nationally-ranked team in program history. The Crusaders last took a top-25 team to five sets in September of 2005, falling to then-#11 UCLA 3-2 in Madison, Wis.

UNI enjoyed an 82-61 advantage in kills for the match, but also committed 33 attack errors to the Crusaders’ 25. Valpo committed just 14 hitting errors over the first three sets versus 23 for the Panthers in jumping out to the 2-1 lead.

The matchup between the top two digging teams in NCAA Division I volleyball lived up to the billing, as Valpo totaled 96 digs and UNI 105. Freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led all players with 29 digs for the Crusaders.

Both squads were also strong on the block, finishing with double-digit rejections. The Crusaders posted 12 team blocks, eight of which Bronner joined in on. It matched the second-best effort of Bronner’s career in the blocks category, topped only by her 10 rejections earlier this year at Cornell.

Graboski reached yet another milestone on Saturday, moving in Valpo’s career top-10 in kills early on in the match with her second kill of the night. Graboski finished the night with a team-best 17 kills and now owns 1,112 career kills – ninth-most in program history.

The senior is also now one of just three players in Crusader history to rank among the program’s career top-10s in both kills and blocks.

Both Crusader outside hitters posted double-doubles with their work on both sides of the ball, as Ketcham tallied 13 kills – just one off her season high – and 20 digs, while Carlson added 12 kills and 18 digs.

Freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) registered her sixth consecutive double-double as well, as she finished the night with 49 assists and 10 digs.

Flynders found herself as big a part of the Crusaders’ work in the back row as in any contest to date during her rookie season, tallying a season-high 16 digs.

Next Up

Valpo (12-11, 4-6 MVC) returns home next Friday evening to host Loyola at the ARC at 7 p.m. Links for live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.


Leave a Reply


Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!