Valparaiso extended its winning streak to 11 matches Friday evening, stepping out of league play to sweep Chicago State, 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-21) in Chicago, Ill.
“It was fun to watch the future of our program on the court tonight, with three freshmen and three sophomores out there all night long,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “I thought we did a really nice job offensively, not getting into extended rallies with Chicago State and maintaining our rate of kills.”
The Crusaders utilized their youth for the sweep Friday, as all six of their starters in each set were underclassmen. Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Balsis (Coloma, Mich./Coloma) matched her career high with 11 kills while hitting .364 and also registered a career-best four blocks, while sophomore middle hitter Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) also tied her career high with ten kills and also tallied seven blocks.
Freshman outside hitter Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) set new career highs across the board, registering seven kills on .429 hitting while chipping in two service aces and five digs. Sophomore middle hitter Tara Newton (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) dominated offensively, recording seven kills on just eight swings for an .875 hitting percentage. Freshman setter Jenny Pokorny (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) posted new career bests in kills (4), assists (34) and blocks (3), while freshman right side Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North) also set a new career high with four kills.
The few upperclassmen who did play all contributed as well for the Crusaders. Senior right side Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./South) and junior outside hitter Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) came in and played exclusively back row on Friday. Meyer, who entered the match with just one career service ace, registered a match-best three aces. Senior libero Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led all players with 11 digs on the back line.
The first set was close until the midway point, as the Cougars closed within one point at 12-11. But Layman tallied a kill on the next play, and Meyer stepped back to the service line and served seven points in a row to put away the frame. Valpo led the second set from start to finish, while the third and final set was tight throughout. Chicago State recorded back-to-back points to tie the decisive frame at 21, but Newton registered three kills in the final four points to close out the sweep.
Mazvita Maziveyi led Chicago State (0-29) with six kills, while Chy Crichton handed out 17 assists. Crichton also paced the Cougars with eight digs.
Valparaiso (22-6) ends Horizon League play Saturday afternoon with a 4 p.m. match at the Athletics-Recreation Center against Wright State. Prior to the match, the Crusaders’ trio of seniors: Malicoat, Meyer and Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) will be honored on Senior Day.