The Crusader volleyball team hung right with #21 Notre Dame Friday night but came up just short in the end, falling 30-25, 27-30, 31-29, 30-22 in their first match at the Shamrock Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind.
The young Valpo team battled in each game, overcoming several large in-game deficits to send each one to the wire. Nicole Schulz
(Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) was one of several Crusaders who posted career nights, leading the Brown and Gold attack with 16 kills. Allison Sears
(Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) matched her career-high with 14 kills and Tiffany Meikle
(Cottage Grove, Wis./Monona Grove) broke a two-year-old career mark with 18 digs along the backline.
After falling behind 9-0 in game one, the Crusaders out-scored the hosts over the rest of the game but never got closer than three points, falling 30-25. In game two, however, the Brown and Gold turned a 22-17 deficit into a 30-27 win, getting back-to-back aces at 25-26 from Brittany Marks
(Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) to take the lead and swing the momentum.
In game three, the Crusaders rode that wave in erasing a 15-8 hole and took control of the game with an 11-4 run to tie it up at 19. From there, Valpo got back-to-back kills from Angie Porché
(Lynwood, Ill./Thornton-Fractional South) at went ahead 28-23 on a Notre Dame error. But Valpo's youth showed in the game's waning points, when the Fighting Irish fought off two match points and won the match's swing game.
Valpo battled again in the decisive game, tying the match at 15 after being down 10-3. But Notre Dame closed out on a 15-7 run and improved to 2-0 on the young season.
Schulz and Sears were two of four Crusaders with double-digit kills, joining Porche, who had 14 and Jessie Fox
(Granger, Ind./Penn) who had 11. Sara Hughes
(San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg, Ohio, H.S.) hit .714 with five kills on seven attacks, and added 47 assists and 11 digs. Marks, the libero, led the Crusaders with 22 digs.
The Crusaders (3-2), continue play at the Shamrock Invitational Saturday when they take on #13 Missouri at 9:00 a.m. and Idaho at 3:30 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast live on 95.1 FM, WVUR and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.