*Valparaiso at Wright State - Tuesday, Oct. 7 - 6 p.m. CDT [Live Stats] [Audio]
*UIC at Valparaiso - Saturday, Oct. 11 - 7 p.m. [Live Stats] [Audio] [Video]
*Loyola at Valparaiso - Sunday, Oct. 12 - 2 p.m. [Live Stats] [Audio] [Video]
This Week’s Action: On a three-match winning streak and climbing up the league standings, Valparaiso plays three more Horizon League contests this week. The Crusaders travel to Wright State for a Tuesday night tilt before returning to the ARC to kick off a six-match homestand with UIC Saturday night and Loyola Sunday afternoon.
Wrapping Up Last Weekend: The Crusaders snapped a four-match losing streak with a sweep at Bradley (29-27, 25-18, 25-18) on Tuesday. Valpo then kicked off the home slate with a pair of league victories, defeating Cleveland State 3-2 (25-27, 25-22, 27-25, 24-26, 15-11) on Friday and sweeping Youngstown State (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) on Saturday.
The Matchups: Wright State is 14-4 all-time against Valparaiso, but the two squads met on the court last year for the first time since 1998, with each winning on the other’s home floor. Most recently, the Raiders swept Valpo (30-24, 30-27, 30-26) at the ARC on Oct. 20, 2007. Val Bollenbacher posted 22 kills on 52 swings, both marks ranking among the top-five in a three-game match in Crusader history.
The most common foe in program history, UIC and Valpo have met 34 times on the court, with the Flames holding a 20-14 edge in the series. Valpo won both meetings last year, however, including a 3-1 (30-32, 30-23, 30-24, 30-22) victory in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2007. Angie Porché registered 24 kills and 15 digs, while Bollenbacher tallied 20 kills and Tiffany Meikle picked up 12 kills and 18 digs.
The Crusaders are just 7-24 all-time against Loyola, but won twice last year against the Ramblers, including a 3-2 (30-27, 21-30, 30-26, 26-30, 15-9) win on Nov. 9, 2007 in Chicago. Porché picked up 27 kills and 17 digs, while Brittany Malicoat led all players with 27 digs.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will broadcast all three of this week’s matches over its airwaves. Links to audio and live stats for all three matches will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, while there will also links for live video feeds for both matches from the ARC this weekend.
Success at Home: The Crusaders have stood out on their home court at the Athletics-Recreation Center since Carin Avery’s ascension to the head coaching position prior to the 2002 season, and the beginning of this home campaign has been no exception. Valpo is now 59-12 (.831) at home under Avery, including wins in its first two home matches of the 2008 season last weekend.
License to Kill: Carin Avery’s teams have registered the top four seasons in total kills in Valpo volleyball history, and this season’s team looks to be continuing the trend. The Crusaders are averaging 14.98 kills/set through four weekends of play, good for fourth nationally. Valpo also ranks fourth nationally with 13.85 assists/set.
Offensive Onslaught: While the Crusaders have had one of the nation’s highest-octane offenses all season long, they took their production to another level last week. In Valpo’s three matches last week, it posted a ridiculous 16.91 kills/set, even more impressive this year with sets only being contested to 25 points. The Crusaders averaged better than five and a half kills more than their opponents per set last week.
Early Success: Coming into the 2008 season, the Crusaders knew they had a challenging pre-league slate ahead of them. Five teams that finished in the top-100 of the RPI in 2007 and two others which won at least 20 matches were on the schedule. But this year’s squad stepped up to the challenge, posting a 7-2 record in pre-league action, the best mark percentage-wise prior to the start of league play in Carin Avery’s seven years.
A Big Victory: Louisville entered the adidas Classic listed fifth among teams also receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll, the second-highest ranked team to be downed by the Crusaders under Carin Avery. When Valpo defeated Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2004, the Irish were the first team also receiving votes in the AVCA’s weekly poll.
Tabbed Second: Valparaiso has been projected to finish second in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches. Cleveland State, last year’s tournament champion, was a unanimous selection to capture the league crown. Following the Crusaders were Milwaukee, UIC, and Butler. Youngstown State was placed sixth, while Wright State, Loyola and Green Bay rounded out the polling.
Know Your Rules: The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee and the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a number of rule changes prior to the 2008 season. The most visible of the rule changes will be the following:
- The term “game” will be changed to “set”
- Sets one through four will now be contested to 25 (previously 30) points
- The maximum number of substiutions will now be 12 (previously 15) per set
Setting Up the Offense: Setter Kim Bukowski has been a big reason for the Crusaders’ offense ranking among the nation’s best in kills, and stepped her game up another notch last week as she earned Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week accolades. Bukowski averaged 14.18 assists/set last week in Valpo’s three victories and picked up at least 40 helpers in each match, highlighted by a career-best 66 assists in the Crusaders’ win over Cleveland State. The junior is averaging a league-best 10.24 assists/set on the season, and moved into seventh place on Valpo’s career assists chart last week.
Continuing to Dig Deep: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat continued her steady presence on the back row last week for the Crusaders. Malicoat was named the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 6.45 digs/set in Valpo’s three wins. She posted a season-best 27 digs in the sweep at Bradley, the third-most digs in a three-set match in Valpo history, and registered 27 more digs Friday against Cleveland State. Malicoat is now just 12 digs shy of the 2,000-dig milestone and extended her streak of matches reaching double figures to 66, the second-longest in the nation. She also ranks 14th in the nation and second in the league with 5.08 digs/set on the year.
Porché Keeps Producing: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché has maintained her level of offensive production this year and stood out last week for the Crusaders. Porché averaged 5.09 kills/set over Valpo’s three wins last week, leading the Crusaders in kills in all three matches while hitting at a .350 clip. The junior continues to lead the Horizon League with 4.69 kills/set on the year and ranks fifth in the nation among all hitters in the category.
Stepping It Up: While Porché improved her hitting percentage last week by 134 points over her season-to-date performance, she was far from the only Crusader to step up her attack last week. Both of Valpo’s sophomore middle hitters, Katie Layman and Tara Newton, hit more than 100 points higher last week than their season-to-date average. Senior right side Jill Meyer hit 87 points better last week, while senior middle hitter Allison Sears also improved her hitting percentage by 28 points while averaging 3.45 kills/set.