- #25 Missouri State def. Valparaiso, 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-20)
- Missouri State improves to 25-5, 17-0 MVC; Valpo drops to 16-15, 7-10 MVC
- Valparaiso, Indiana
- Attendance: 680
- Box score
VALPARAISO, Ind. – Against the nation’s leaders in digs, the 25th-ranked Missouri State Bears knew they would be in for a fight. MSU’s seniors would not allow it to be, defeating Valpo 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-20) to tie their longest winning streak under coach Melissa Stokes with their 18th win.
In set one alone, MSU’s seniors scored 17 of the team’s 25 points after falling behind early. Lily Johnson had 9 of her match-high 26 kills in the opening stanza. The 26 kills in a three-set match mark the second-highest total nationally for a three-set match, and she contributed a double-double as well with 10 digs. She also hit .442 with only 3 hitting errors on 52 total swings. Lynsey Wright, the other senior mentioned above, finished with 13 kills and hit .375 against the Crusaders. Junior libero Emily Butters dug a match-high 23 balls to pace the defense. Setters Emelie Orlando and Daniele Messa each added 20 assists to the efficient attack (.279) and Messa completed her double-double with 14 digs.
Valparaiso did not go quietly. They held leads late in the first two sets against the MVC’s top program, even while they were resting multiple starters due to soreness and injury. Leading the Crusaders offensively was junior outside hitter Katherine Carlson with 8 kills and scooping 12 balls against the Bears. Freshman outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn added 7 kills with only one attack error. Freshman libero Rylee Cookerly dug a team-high 22 balls and had 2 aces. Setter Brittany Anderson finished with a match-high 32 assists.
The match had many hallmarks. Lily Johnson, with her 26 kills, moved into the top 30 in NCAA history in career kills. Johnson’s 26 kills in the sweep also marked her career-high in a three-set match. Emily Butters, with her 23 digs, moved her into second all-time on MSU’s single season digs list with 663. She has now surpassed 1,800 for her career. Valparaiso learned that Loyola, Chicago defeated Southern Illinois during the match, meaning Valpo qualified for the MVC conference tournament in their first year of being in the MVC. Currently, the Crusaders are tied with Indiana State. Valpo could finish as high as the 5-seed if they beat Southern Illinois Saturday night and Indiana State loses at Bradley. Otherwise, Valpo will finish as the 6-seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Courtesy of Missouri State Athletics
VALPARAISO, Ind. — Missouri State senior Lily Johnson slammed 26 kills, the second-most in a three-set match in the NCAA this season, and the 25th-ranked Bears hit .279 against one of the nation’s top defensive teams Friday evening for a 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 win at Valparaiso.
Missouri State extended its win streak to 18 consecutive matches, tying the longest under Melissa Stokes and third-longest in school history, improving to 25-5 overall and 17-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play. The Crusaders fell to 16-15, 7-10 as they continue to fight for a spot in next week’s MVC Tournament.
The Bears overcame a slow start in the first set on the strength of a senior class that accounted for 17.5 of MSU’s 25 points. Missouri State trailed by four points as late as 17-13, starting the comeback with consecutive kills from Lynsey Wright, Lauren Boone and Johnson. A Wright block tied the score at 18, and Johnson hit two more kills to start a 5-0 run to a 23-19 lead on the way to 10 kills in the first period.
MSU overcame another four-point deficit in the second set, largely in part to 11 more kills from Johnson. The senior hit four in a row for a 15-all tie, and a Valpo error followed for MSU’s first lead since 2-1 at 16-15. The Crusaders tied the score five more times but never retook the lead, as Johnson scored kills for set point on two occasions, and Aubrey Cheffey‘s kill finished off the 26-24 win.
Missouri State left little doubt in the third set after ripping off a 10-0 run to lead 12-4. The Bears kept Valpo at a comfortable distance the rest of the match, though the Crusaders got as close as 24-20 before Wright’s 13th kill of the match secured the win.
Johnson’s 26 kills also represented her career high for a three-setter and moved her from 32nd to 28th on the NCAA career kills list. She added 10 digs for the double-double, and Emily Butters finished with a match-high 23 digs, surpassing 1,800 for her career and moving to second on MSU’s single season list with 663 in 2017.
The Bears limited Valpo to .155 hitting, thanks in large part to digging 73 attacks, finishing with a 73-56 lead over the national leaders in that category. Daniele Messa and Emelie Orlandoeach had 20 assists, and Messa added 14 digs. MacKenzie Irwin played a role in five of MSU’s six blocks.
Courtesy of Valpo Athletics
The Valparaiso University volleyball team battled gamely against MVC regular season champion and 25th-ranked Missouri State Friday night at the ARC, but the Bears claimed a tight first two sets on their way to a 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-20) victory over the Crusaders. Despite the loss, the Crusaders secured a berth in next week’s MVC Tournament with SIU’s loss at Loyola.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a strong start in the opening set, scoring four of the first five points of the match. The Crusaders would extend their lead to as many as four points on four occasions as the frame passed the midway point, with back-to-back kills from junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) giving Valpo a 17-13 advantage.
- Missouri State responded with five of the next six points to tie the set at 18-all. A kill from junior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) briefly quelled the Bears’ momentum and returned the lead to Valpo, 19-18, but Missouri State finished the set with seven of the final eight points to claim the opener.
- Valpo led throughout most of the first half of set two as well, again extending its advantage to as many as four points – the latest coming at 15-11. Missouri State came back with five straight points – the first four coming on kills from Lily Johnson – to claim a 16-15 lead.
- The set would remain tight the rest of the way, but while the Crusaders would tie the score a number of times, they were unable to reclaim the outright lead.
- Trailing 23-21, a kill from junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) and an MSU error tied the set at 23-23, and following a Johnson kill, freshman Jaclyn Bulmahn (McCordsville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) registered a kill of her own to force extra points. But back-to-back kills for the Bears ended the second set in their favor.
- Missouri State reeled off 10 straight points as part of a 14-2 run early in the third set, going ahead 16-6. The Crusaders would not go down without a fight however, forcing the Bears to use both of their timeouts late in the set. Back-to-back kills from Bulmahn held off a pair of MSU match point chances and brought Valpo back to within 24-20, but a kill from Lynsey Wright ended the match.
Inside the Match
- Valpo secured a spot in the MVC Tournament in its first season as a league member late in the third set Friday evening, as over in Chicago, Loyola completed a sweep of Southern Illinois.
- That win by the Ramblers also guaranteed that Valpo will finish ahead of its preseason projection, as the Crusaders were picked seventh in the MVC preseason poll.
- The Crusaders currently sit in a tie for fifth place with Indiana State at 7-10 in MVC play. If the Crusaders knock off Southern Illinois on Saturday and Indiana State loses at Bradley, Valpo will be the fifth seed for the conference tournament – otherwise, the Crusaders will enter the tournament as the sixth seed.
- Valpo’s meeting with the Bears was its third match against a nationally-ranked team within conference play this season.
- Missouri State enjoyed a 53-35 advantage in kills on Friday, thanks in large part to the work of the All-American, Lily Johnson. The senior tallied 26 kills – the second-most in a three-set match in the NCAA this season – on .442 hitting for the Bears.
- Carlson paced Valpo with eight kills, while Bulmahn recorded seven kills against just one attack error. Bronner and redshirt junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) each picked up six kills and hit .333 for the match as well.
- Freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) paced the Crusaders with 22 digs, as Valpo came in a slight bit under its average for the year, tallying 56 digs over the three sets. Carlson added 12 digs as well. Emily Butters picked up a match-best 23 digs for the Bears, who improved to 17-0 in MVC play this season.