Coming off of a hard-fought five-game victory on Friday night, Valparaiso found the going significantly easier on Saturday afternoon against Loyola at the Athletics-Recreation Center, sweeping the Ramblers 30-24, 30-22, 30-28 to move to 2-0 in Horizon League play.
“I’m thrilled to come out of our first League weekend with a 2-0 record,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “It was nice to see us step up our level of play from Friday night. We also learned a lot between these two matches about what we still need to work on to be a better team.”
The first game was closely contested, with the Ramblers holding a 16-15 lead halfway through. The Crusaders won each of the next three points, and while Loyola would cut the advantage back down to one numerous times, Valpo did not let the lead slip away, finishing the game on a 7-2 run.
The Brown and Gold never trailed in game two and extended its lead to as many as nine to go into the break up two games. The final game was a tight one, as neither team gained more than a four-point advantage while the lead changed hands on six occasions. Loyola was serving up 28-27, but two kills by Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) sandwiched a Rambler attack error to close out the sweep for the Crusaders.
Porché led the Crusaders in kills for the eighth time this season, racking up 16 terminations. Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./South), who set a new career best in blocks last night, posted a career-high with 15 kills, while Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) chipped in 11 kills.
“I really thought Jill stepped up her game today,” said Avery. “She did a great job filling in for Nicole as our main right side hitter.”
Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio] H.S.) recorded her second straight double-double, dishing out 45 assists to go along with 16 digs, one shy of her career-best. Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) paced all players with 18 digs, leading Valpo for the 55th straight time in the category and registering at least 10 digs for the 31st consecutive match. Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) led the Crusaders at the net defensively with six blocks.
Valpo held a solid 58-43 edge over Loyola (3-10, 0-2 Horizon) in kills. The Crusaders also out-dug the visitors, who were led by Mallory Curran’s 11 kills, by a 68-63 margin and out-blocked the Ramblers 8-5.
Valparaiso (10-3, 2-0 Horizon) steps out of League play to close out a three-match homestand on Tuesday as the Crusaders host Bradley. First serve is set for 7 p.m.