Valparaiso at Bradley - Tuesday, Sept. 30 - 7 p.m. [Audio] [Live Stats]
*Cleveland State at Valparaiso - Friday, Oct. 3 - 7 p.m. [Audio] [Video] [Live Stats]
*Youngstown State at Valparaiso - Saturday, Oct. 4 - 4 p.m. [Audio] [Video] [Live Stats]
This Week’s Action: Valparaiso concludes a month-long, 13-match road trip on Tuesday as the Crusaders step out of Horizon League play to face Bradley. Valpo then opens up the 2008 home campaign this weekend at the Athletics-Recreation Center against Cleveland State on Friday at 7 p.m. and Youngstown State on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Wrapping Up Last Weekend: The Crusaders dropped a pair of Horizon League matches, losing Friday night at Green Bay, 3-2 (25-18, 24-26, 22-25, 28-26, 15-7), and Saturday afternoon at Milwaukee, 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-13), to fall to 0-3 in league play.
The Matchups: Bradley holds a 7-5 advantage in the all-time series against Valpo, but the teams met last year for the first time since 1996, when the Crusaders swept the Braves (30-17, 30-22, 30-19) on Sept. 25 at the ARC. Valpo hit .324 as a team, led by 14 kills on .435 hitting from Val Bollenbacher.
The Crusaders are 12-5 all-time versus Cleveland State, but the Vikings took all three matchups against Valpo last year, including a 3-1 (30-27, 28-30, 30-27, 30-23) decision in the Horizon League Championship match on Nov. 18. Katie Layman led the Crusader offense with ten kills on .529 hitting, while Tiffany Meikle picked up a match-high 19 digs in the back row.
Valpo owns a 10-6 edge in the all-time series against the Penguins of Youngstown State, but YSU won both meetings in the Crusaders’ inaugural Horizon League campaign, and most recently downed Valpo 3-2 (30-26, 23-30, 33-31, 18-30, 16-14) on Nov. 2, 2007 in Youngstown, Ohio. Brittany Malicoat tallied a match-best 31 digs, while Angie Porché led all players with 20 kills.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will be broadcasting matches Tuesday and Friday over its airwaves, while Saturday’s contest against Youngstown State will be carried on www.sportsjuice.com. Links to audio for all three matches will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, while there will also links for live video feeds and live statistics for both matches from the ARC this weekend.
You Can Go Home Again: This weekend is a welcome sight on the schedule for the Crusaders, who finally open their home campaign on October 3 with a big matchup against 2007 Horizon League champion Cleveland State. This season marks the longest Valpo has gone before its home opener, both of terms of date and matches played, since the 1996 season, when the Crusaders opened the year with 20 straight matches away from home before taking on UMKC at the ARC on October 11.
Home Cooking: 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. Over her first six years at the helm, Valpo has posted a 57-12 (.826) home record and has won at least seven home contests each year.
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.
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 14.54 kills/set through four weekends of play, good for sixth nationally. Valpo also ranks sixth nationally with 13.33 assists/set.
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
Record-Breaker: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat, who already held many of Valpo’s best single-match dig marks and the top two single-season dig totals in Crusader history, ascended to the top of Valpo’s career chart in the category this past weekend. Malicoat picked up her record-breaking 1,888th career dig in the third set Friday at Green Bay, surpassing Sara Silcox for the top spot in program history. Malicoat now sits just 83 digs shy of reaching the 2,000 dig milestone. She enters the week ranked third in the Horizon League and 30th nationally with an average of 4.77 digs/set.
Enjoying Green Bay: Senior right-side hitter Jill Meyer has taken a liking to playing the Phoenix of Green Bay since the Crusaders’ entrance into the Horizon League last year. In two matches against Green Bay in 2007, Meyer combined to hit .280 with 24 kills, including a career-best 16 terminations on the road against the Phoenix. The trend continued this past weekend, as Meyer stood out in Valpo’s five-set match at Green Bay, hitting at a team-high .379 clip with 13 kills. Defensively, the senior racked up six blocks, including two solo rejections, a new career best and the most blocks in a single match by any Valpo player this season.
Taking Advantage of the Start: Sophomore middle hitter Katie Layman, who started 22 of Valpo’s last 23 matches in 2007, earned her first start of the season Saturday at Milwaukee, and took full advantage of the opportunity. Layman reached double figures in kills for just the second time in her career, terminating ten balls while swinging at a .450 clip. The ten kills matched her career high, while the .450 hitting percentage was the second-best mark of her career.
Among Nation’s Best: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché continues to rank among the nation’s leaders in kills/set. Porché is currently averaging 4.60 kills/set, easily the best in the Horizon League and good for sixth nationally. The junior has reached double figures in the kills column in each of Valpo’s 12 matches in 2008, and now has a streak of 35 consecutive matches with double-figure kills dating back to Sept. 15, 2007.