Valparaiso came out on the wrong end of a three-game sweep Friday night in Popcorn Classic action at the ARC, falling to Indiana 30-22, 30-23, 30-25.
“This was a very disappointing match,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We were just unfocused mentally throughout all three games. When you’re playing a Big Ten team like Indiana, you have to be mentally there on every point, and we were not tonight.”
The Crusaders’ best chance at picking up a game Friday night occurred in the opener, as Valpo fought back from an early 14-8 deficit to tie the game at 20. But the Hoosiers closed the game on a 10-2 run to seize momentum into the rest of the match. The match featured just 12 ties and five lead changes over three games, and the latest Valpo led was at 13-12 in the final game.
The Crusaders were led defensively by Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial), who had a match-high 20 digs. Malicoat was presented with a commemorative volleyball before the match to celebrate passing the 1,000 dig milestone last week at Buffalo. Malicoat led Valpo in digs for the 49th straight match and has now reached double-digit digs 25 matches in a row. Offensively, Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) and Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) picked up 13 kills apiece to pace Valpo (5-2).
Indiana did not have a player in double digits in the kills category, but featured a very balanced attack, as six Hoosiers tallied at least five terminations. Juli Pierce led Indiana with 13 digs, while Taylor Wittmer recorded a match-best nine blocks.
Indiana (6-2) registered 46 kills on .236 hitting, while the Crusaders tallied 42 kills on just .094 hitting. The Hoosiers also held advantages in aces (5-3) and blocks (14-4), while Valpo out-dug the visitors by a 55-47 margin.
In earlier action at the Popcorn Classic Friday, Indiana defeated Marshall 3-1 (30-28, 30-27, 22-30, 30-27). Western Michigan also won in its first match of the tournament, defeating the Thundering Herd 3-0 (30-17, 30-18, 30-26).
The 2007 Popcorn Classic concludes tomorrow with two matches. Indiana will face off against Western Michigan at noon CDT, while the Crusaders will host Western Michigan at 7 p.m. Coverage of the Crusader match, as always, can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.