This past Valentine’s day, the Valpo women's volleyball team fell just short of victory against Southern Illinois with a final match score of 3-2.
This loss is Valpo’s first defeat by the Salukis in the last six times the teams have gone head to head.
While the match ultimately went to SIU, Valpo still found ways to shine. During the second set alone, Valpo topped their best single-set hitting percentage this year, totalling 18 kills throughout the set. Senior Jaclyn Bulmahn was one of the four players to achieve their career highs during this match, alongside junior Jillie Grant, sophomore Bella Ravotto and sophomore Victoria Bulmahn.
“During the game, honestly, I didn’t notice anything,” Jaclyn Bulmahn said. “I was just trying to find a way to score and get points, because obviously that’s how we win. So then afterwards, when our coach talked about it and brought it up to us, it was kind of neat and interesting to know that there were four of us with career highs that game.”
After losing the first set, Valpo captured the second set 25-17 to put them on the board. A set by Victoria Bulhman helped Jaclyn Bulhman deliver a kill to secure the win.
Following a block by senior Ally Cummings and junior Haley Hart and an ace from sophomore Bella Ravotta (who had a career best game with 23 defensive digs), the score was tied at 11-11.
However, SIU reclaimed their two point lead in the next few plays.
Back-to-back service errors on both sides resulted in the match point for SIU which Grant was able to hold off for one point until an SIU kill closed out the second set.
By the third set, things were looking optimistic for Valpo, as they had just landed three straight kills, one from Grant and two back-to-back rally enders from Senior Peyton McCarthy.
Bulmahn eventually secured Valpo’s lead at 24-22 with a kill, to which SIU responded with two back-to-back kills, tying the set at 24-24. Hart picked up a kill to pull Valpo ahead, but SIU rallied once again and eventually took the set with another kill and a block in succession.
Valpo took the fourth set, winning a close set 25-22. The points were close for the entire set, but a kill from Grant eventually won the set in Valpo’s favor.
After rallying to even the set score, Valpo would ultimately fall short of victory in the 5th and final set.
In their fight, there was still shared success for the team on the court.
“Getting four people to have career highs was awesome,” said Bulmahn, “and [it really was] just a sign that we’re all improving and getting better. Although it’s frustrating that we didn’t win, it’s really just a positive to see that all of us are improving and getting better with each other out there on the court.”
But the season is nowhere near complete, and Valpo volleyball has high expectations heading into the final weeks of competition.
“The rest of this year, I think we’re just showing that we’re all getting better and we’re just focusing on the little things and the smaller details of each point,” said Bulmahn. “We know that we can compete and beat any team in this conference, so the little things and the details of our play I think is our biggest focus.”