Valparaiso won its third match of the week Saturday, defending the Athletics-Recreation Center in a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) sweep of Youngstown State in Horizon League play.
“It’s great to come back home and start off 2-0 here in the league,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “These two matches are putting us back on the right track after starting off 0-3.”
The defenses ruled the day in the first set, as Valpo hit just .042 for the set and Youngstown State hit .000. The Penguins held the lead in the early portion of the frame until Valpo ran off a 10-3 spurt to take a 17-13 advantage. The Crusaders would lead the remainder of the way, although YSU closed to within one point on multiple occasions. Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) came up with a kill to give Valpo two set points at 24-22, and although the Penguins got a kill to save one set point, Porché tallied another termination to give Valpo the opener.
Valparaiso led the second set from start to finish, with just one tie score during the frame, but Youngstown State would not let the Crusaders win the set with ease, as the Penguins ran off four points in a five-point span to cut their deficit to 22-21. But a YSU attack error gave Valpo a two-point cushion, and setter Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West) found senior Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) for back-to-back kills to send the Crusaders into the in-game break up two sets.
The third set took a similar shape to the first, with Youngstown State gaining the early lead. The Penguins led 8-4 before the Crusaders took six of eight points to knot up the frame at ten. Valpo would pull ahead in the middle part of the set, and led 18-17 before ending the match on a 7-3 spurt, keyed by back-to-back kills by Porché. Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) stood out in the finale for the Crusaders, tallying five kills on just eight swings in her first action of the match.
Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led all players Saturday with 17 digs, pulling within 12 digs of reaching the prestigious 2,000-dig milestone for her career. She was the only player in double figures for either team in the category, as Valpo out-dug YSU by a 46-32 margin. Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) paced the Crusader defense at the net, getting in on four of Valpo’s five blocks for the match.
“Brittany did an amazing job in the back row tonight,” said Avery. “She was fantastic keeping the ball off the floor and keeping us in points.”
Porché led the way offensively, tallying 14 kills, while Sears added 11 terminations of her own. The Crusaders, who entered the weekend second in the nation in kills/set, continued their offensive prowess Saturday, out-killing Youngstown State (8-7, 1-4 Horizon) by a 49-29 margin.
“We did a really good job getting kills tonight,” said Avery. “But we still need to find a way to eliminate a lot of our unforced errors.”
Valparaiso (10-5, 2-3 Horizon) returns to league play on Tuesday evening, as the Crusaders travel to Wright State to take on the Raiders. First serve is set for 6 p.m. CDT, and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso. Live statistics and audio will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.