Valparaiso rallied back from one-game deficits twice Friday night at Youngstown State, but the Penguins took game five to defeat the Crusaders 3-2 (30-26, 23-30, 33-31, 18-30, 16-14).
Youngstown State jumped out quickly in the opener, extending the lead midway through the game to six points on three different occasions. The Crusaders fought back, eventually tying the game at 20, but the Penguins responded with a 6-2 spurt to take a 26-22 lead. Valpo crawled back to within one at 27-26, but YSU scored the last three points of the game to take the early one-game edge. Game two was close early, but Valpo slowly pulled away, using a late 7-1 run to send the match into the break tied at one game apiece.
Game three was a battle throughout, as neither team held more than a three-point lead in a set that saw 21 ties and ten lead changes. Youngstown State led late at 26-23, but a 6-2 run gave the Crusaders game point at 29-28. The Penguins fought off that game point and would earn three game points of their own, converting on the third to win the game. Game four saw Valpo run away early, jumping out to an 18-5 lead and cruising from there to send the match into the deciding game.
The two squads traded points early in the finale. With the score 5-3 in favor of Valpo, the Penguins rolled off four straight points to force Avery to use a timeout. Valpo responded with two consecutive points to tie the game at 7, but Youngstown State answered with a 6-1 run of its own to seemingly take control at 13-8. But the Crusaders came back on the serve of Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio] H.S.), scoring five straight points to tie the frame at 13. The Penguins scored the next point to earn a match point opportunity, but Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) tallied a kill to keep the Crusaders alive. YSU, however, would earn a second match point and convert to win the match.
Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led all players on the back line, picking up 31 digs to break the Horizon League’s previous single-season digs record of 579. Malicoat has tallied 587 digs on the season, third-best in a single season in Valpo history and now has 1,535 digs on her career, third-most in Valpo history and just two away from the second spot. Malicoat also paced the Crusaders with three service aces.
Porché led three Valpo players in double figures in kills with 20 terminations. Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) added 16 kills, while Nicole Schulz (Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) totaled 15 kills and five blocks. Tara Newton (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) led the Crusaders at the net with six blocks.
Youngstown State (12-15, 5-10 Horizon) placed four players in double figures in kills, led by 14 apiece from Ruth Boscaljon and Jessica Fraley. Allison Heinz contributed 11 kills on .429 hitting and racked up a match-best eight blocks.
The Crusaders held advantages in kills (73-62) and digs (72-61) over the Penguins. Valpo also out-hit Youngstown State, .199-.174, while the Penguins owned an 18-12 edge in the blocks category.
Valparaiso (17-9, 7-6 Horizon) will look to get back into the win column Saturday afternoon at Cleveland State. First serve is slated for 3 p.m. CDT.