*Butler at Valpo - Friday, Oct. 19 - 7 p.m.
*Wright State at Valpo - Saturday, Oct. 20 - 5 p.m.
The Matchups: Valparaiso returns to Horizon League play this weekend after a weekend away from League foes. The Crusaders are kicking off their final four-match homestand, hosting Butler on Friday night and Wright State on Saturday evening. Valpo defeated both teams on the road the first time they met this season, improving its all-time record against the Bulldogs to 4-21 and against the Raiders to 4-13.
Last Meetings: Valparaiso had its back up against the wall down two games to one at Wright State Sept. 28 in its first taste of Horizon League road action, but the Crusaders showed their resilience, rebounding in the final two games to earn a 3-2 (25-30, 30-28, 28-30, 30-25, 15-9) victory over the Raiders. Angie Porché led all players with 24 kills on 74 swings, tying the most attempts by a Crusader in a five-game match all-time.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, Valparaiso earned a hard-fought road victory in Horizon League play, defeating Butler 3-1 (30-20, 16-30, 30-27, 30-27) Sept. 29 in Indianapolis, Ind. Porché paced the Crusader offense with 20 kills on .261 hitting. The sophomore also led Valpo on the back row with 18 digs and added five blocks.
Last Time Out: Despite entering the match with a depleted front line, Valparaiso earned a 3-1 (30-25, 30-25, 24-30, 30-28) victory over IUPUI in Indianapolis Oct. 12. Angie Porché enjoyed an outstanding match for the Crusaders, tallying 27 kills on .302 hitting while also registering 11 digs. Tara Newton had a successful homecoming, racking up 14 terminations and hitting at a stellar .440 clip.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will broadcast both of this weekends’ matches over its airwaves. Valparaiso’s campus radio station is planning on broadcasting almost all of the Crusader regular season volleyball matches this year, plus any matches as part of the Horizon League Championships. Most matches will be carried over the station’s airwaves and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics, while select matches may be carried on www.sportsjuice.com.
Home Cooking: The Crusaders will look to utilize their home-court advantage over the next two weekends to maintain their spot in the Horizon League race. Since Carin Avery’s arrival prior to the 2002 season, Valparaiso is 56-10 (.848) in matches at the Athletics-Recreation Center, including a sparkling 33-4 (.892) mark in league matches. Part of the reason for Valpo’s advantage at the ARC is the crowd size, as the Crusaders are drawing a League-best 444 fans per home match this season.
Offense at the Top: Valpo is one of the top teams in the Horizon League in the offensive categories. The Crusaders are currently tied for the league lead in hitting percentage at .220 with Cleveland State, rank second in kills with 16.00/game, trailing only Milwaukee, and pace League teams with 15.06 assists/game. Nationally, the Crusaders rank 26th in assists/game and 42nd in kills/game.
Advantage Crusaders: Valpo has enjoyed distinct edges over its opponents in both kills and digs all season long. The Crusaders have out-killed their foes in 17 out of 21 matches to date and out-dug their opponents on 20 occasions. Milwaukee is the only team that Valpo has faced that has both out-dug and out-killed the Brown and Gold. On the season, the Crusaders are averaging nearly four kills/game and nearly three digs/game more than the opposition.
Aces Come in Spades: With at least 10 matches remaining in 2007, this year’s Crusaders are already just seven service aces away from moving into Valpo’s single-season top-10 in the category. The 2007 squad, with 172 aces to date, also is easily on pace to surpass 200 aces, the highest total by any of Avery’s teams at Valpo. The Crusaders currently sit 34th in the nation with 2.15 aces/game, and boast three of the top-five individuals in the category in the Horizon League.
Avery Approaching Milestone: Crusader head coach Carin Avery is just four wins shy of 200 in her coaching career. She is poised to reach the mark less than four years after recording her 100th career victory, which occurred Nov. 14, 2003 against Oakland.
Crusaders Tabbed Third: The Horizon League coaches have picked Valparaiso to finish third in its first season of play in the league. The Crusaders tallied 50 points and two first-place votes in the polling, in which a first-place vote is worth eight points. Milwaukee is the preseason favorite to win the championship, garnering 58 points and five first-place votes, followed by Cleveland State. UIC, Green Bay, Loyola, Wright State, Butler and Youngstown State round out the polling.
A Trio of Seniors: The 2007 Crusaders feature three seniors: setter Sara Hughes, outside hitter Tiffany Meikle and right side hitter Nicole Schulz. All three seniors were members of the team’s starting lineup last year and look to be again this year. This senior class has gone 79-25 in their first three years and have made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Porché Stepping Up On Offense...: Sophomore outside hitter Angie Porché has become Valpo’s go-to player in the absence of Allison Sears and Nicole Schulz, and Porché has responded, as her numbers have gone up across the board compared to her freshman season. She is currently averaging 4.53 kills/game, second-best in the Horizon League and among the nation’s top-50. Over her last 11 matches, she has reached 20 kills on seven occasions, including 27 last time out against IUPUI, second-most in a four-game match in Crusader history.
...And Defense: Perhaps more impressive, however, is Porché’s play on the defensive side of the ball. The sophomore, who averaged just 1.02 digs/game her first season, has posted 2.52 digs/game this year. She also has reached double figures in digs in eight of the last 11 matches, tallying the first eight double-doubles of her career, after not reaching the mark in any of her first 46 career matches. With her 21-dig effort at Wright State and 18-dig match at Butler, Porché became the first Crusader besides Brittany Malicoat to pace Valpo in the category over the last two seasons.
Malicoat Keeps Setting Records: Junior libero Brittany Malicoat figures to completely rewrite the Crusader record book in the digs category before her career ends. Malicoat posted the best five-game dig total in Valpo history Oct. 3 against Youngstown State, tallying a career-best 39 digs, and followed the next match with 37 digs at Green Bay, second-most in a four-game match in Crusader history. Malicoat, who currently leads the Horizon League and ranks 32nd in the nation with 5.53 digs/game, already has 442 digs this season, just three shy of her second entry in Valpo’s single-season top-10 in the category. With 1,390 career digs, the junior is just five behind Marion Hansen for fifth in Crusader history. Malicoat also looks to make her mark on Valpo’s record book in service aces, where she needs just one more for her 100th career ace.
Bollenbacher Steps Up: Sophomore outside hitter Val Bollenbacher was thrown into an unfamiliar role at IUPUI, as she started at middle blocker for the first time in her collegiate career due to a number of Crusader injuries. The sophomore picked up nine kills and three blocks while helping Valpo earn the victory. In the Crusaders’ prior outing at Milwaukee, Bollenbacher enjoyed one of her best matches of the season, putting down 16 kills.
Bukowski Posts Career High: Sophomore Kim Bukowski received the start at IUPUI after stepping in at setter at Milwaukee and leading the Crusaders to the brink of a fifth game with the league leader. Bukowski proved she was worthy of the start against the Jaguars, registering a career-best 59 assists in Valpo’s 3-1 victory.