After falling to Loyola Chicago in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament, Valparaiso Universi- ty’s volleyball season was over--or so they thought.
But for junior hitter Bella Ravotto, she and her teammates knew that they had a chance to play another postseason tournament.
“We kind of knew going into the MVC Tournament that there was a chance we would play another postseason tournament,” Ravotto said. “We were excited anyways [to continue our postseason journey].”
The Beacons maximized their second chance with a sweep over Butler in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) tournament 3-0.
Head Coach Carin Avery saw the return as cathartic. Not only was this the first time that Valpo Volleyball has had the chance to host a postseason tournament at home, but it is a homecoming after a couple weeks of travel.
“It was awesome to host,” Avery said. “We were on the road two weekends in a row before this weekend, so it was so nice to host. We had a great crowd.”
This win was the Beacon’s second sweep over Butler during the 2021 calendar year, following another win against the team in the spring 2021 season.
For Avery, winning this rivalry was important not only because of the game’s circumstances, but because of the team’s history between each other.
“I was telling the girls this yesterday, that back in the day this was such a big game for both teams,” Avery said. “They really wanted to kill us, they really wanted to kill them. It was a tough match.”
Valpo took the first set 25-23, then kept the lead for most of the set before Butler was able to tie up the set at 20 points. The tie continued to 22, but a kill by junior outside hitter Maddy Boyer helped Valpo take back the lead.
But fifth year senior middle hitter Peyton McCarthy won the set with a kill.
“We always cut close a bit,” Ravotto said. “At the end, someone usually comes out with a big kill, and it is usually Payton that we look to.”
During the second set, Valpo was up 24-13 against the Bulldogs. As it seemed the Beacons were going to close the set, Butler delayed victory with a 4-0 run to make the set score 24-17.
“I thought they came up and made some big plays in that second set,” Avery said. “I thought the second set they did a really good job of putting the pressure onus.”
Avery called a timeout after the run, and the Beacons were able to bounce back during the next possession to put them up 2-0.
Valpo won the second set 25-17. The Beacons were able to go the distance and extend the lead as far as 11.
Valpo started off slow in the third set, allowing Butler to take a 4-0 run early. Val- po climbed back and tied the score 8-8 off of a kill by freshman hitter Elise Swistek.
From that point on, Valpo kept the lead for the rest of the set. The Beacons captured the third set 25-16 off of a block by Swistek to seal the deal.
“It was nice to get that over within three [sets] for sure,” Avery said.
Valpo earned a 9-1 record at home, their best record since their 2009 season.
The Beacon’s win tonight was their third win in postseason history. The two other wins previously came in the 2018- 2019 NIVC tournament against Miami Ohio and Ball State.