Valparaiso at IUPUI - Tuesday, Oct. 20 - 6 p.m. CDT
Valparaiso at Cleveland State - Friday, Oct. 23 - 6 p.m. CDT
Valparaiso at Wright State - Saturday, Oct. 24 - 3 p.m. CDT
This Week’s Action: Valparaiso hits the road for three matches this week looking to extend a season-best seven-match winning streak. The Crusaders head to IUPUI for a non-league contest on Tuesday evening before traveling to Ohio to take on Cleveland State and Wright State this weekend in Horizon League matches.
The Matchups: Valpo (15-6, 8-1) leads the all-time series with former Mid-Con foe IUPUI (14-7) by a 17-12 count, including a 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-13) sweep of the Jaguars in their last meeting at the ARC on Oct. 21, 2008. Allison Sears led the Crusaders with 17 kills on .571 hitting, while Angie Porché added 14 kills on .343 hitting. Brittany Malicoat led Valpo on the back line with 19 digs.
The Crusaders lead the all-time series with Cleveland State (20-5, 8-1) 14-7, but the Vikings were the only league team to beat Valpo in the first half of Horizon League action, sweeping the Crusaders (25-20, 25-13, 25-17) at the ARC on Sept. 26. Taylor Root picked up a match-high 13 digs.
In contrast, Valpo trails the all-time series with Wright State (10-12, 2-7) by an identical 14-7 margin, but defeated the Raiders in five sets (21-25, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23, 25-11) the first time around this season on Sept. 25. The Crusaders had to dig deep to rally, trailing 2-1 and 22-17 in the fourth set, but scored seven straight points to turn the tide. Tara Diebler smashed her previous career best with 19 kills on .389 hitting, while Porché led all players with 23 terminations.
Previously: Valpo improved to 6-1 at the ARC this year with a pair of victories, downing Indiana State in three in a non-league contest on Wednesday before defeating Youngstown State 3-1 to open up the second half of league play on Friday. Porché recorded 41 kills over the two matches, while Diebler hit at a .431 clip with 26 kills on the week.
Following the Crusaders: The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will be broadcasting most of the Crusaders’ volleyball matches this season. The IUPUI and Cleveland State matches will be carried live over the airwaves of WVUR, as well as online at www.valpoathletics.com, while the Wright State match will be broadcast exclusively online through SportsJuice. Live video through the Horizon League Network will be available for the Cleveland State match, while live stats can be accessed through the official Crusader website for all three matches.
Stringing Together Victories: Valparaiso’s current seven-match winning streak is its longest of the season, and means that Carin Avery has led the Crusaders to a winning streak of at least five matches in each of her eight seasons at the helm. In total, Avery’s Valpo squads have posted 15 winning streaks of five matches or better over the last eight years. This is also the second straight year that the Crusaders have won at least six consecutive Horizon League contests, as last year’s squad closed out the league campaign with nine straight HL wins amidst a 13-match winning streak.
Close to Clinching: The Crusaders need just one more Horizon League victory to clinch a berth in the 2009 Horizon League Volleyball championship, which for the first time this season is limited to just the top six teams. Valpo’s sights are set higher than just a berth in the tournament, however, as the top overall seed gets to host all three rounds of the tournament, while the top two seeds get byes to the semifinals.
Success in League Play: Valpo is on an impressive run within Horizon League play currently. Going back to Oct. 12 of last season, the Crusaders have won 17 of their last 18 league matches, including nine 3-0 sweeps of their opposition. In fact, during that time frame, Valpo has played seven Horizon League road matches and has swept six of the contests, winning the other match 3-1.
Killer Instinct: The Crusaders have become known recently as a dominant squad on the offensive side of the ball, and have lived up to that reputation so far this season. Valpo, which led the nation in both kills and assists per set in 2008, currently leads the league and ranks among the top-15 nationally with 14.17 kills/set, and has increased its average to an even 15.00 kills/set in Horizon League play, also tops among league squads. Valpo is also a perfect 14-0 this season when it outkills its opponent and has held a double-figure advantage in the category on ten occasions.
Player of the Week: Taylor Root earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week recognition on Oct. 12 for her standout efforts on the back line the previous week, her first career league weekly honor. She became the second Crusader to earn league accolades this season, as Angie Porché received Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week recognition on Sept. 21. Valpo has now had 14 league weekly honorees in just 2+ seasons as a Horizon League member.
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. The Crusaders received two of the nine first-place votes en route to tallying 58 points. Defending league champion Milwaukee received the other seven first-place nods and totaled 63 points, while Cleveland State, Butler, Wright State, Loyola, UIC, Youngstown State and Green Bay rounded out the polling in order.
Porché Leads the Way: Senior outside hitter Angie Porché had picked up between 14 and 16 kills in six straight matches entering Friday’s contest against Youngstown State, but stepped up big time when the Crusaders needed her against the Penguins. The senior totaled 26 kills in the four-set victory over YSU, a season-high and just three off of her career high, while also taking 66 swings, tied for third-most in Crusader history in a four-set match. Porché leads all Horizon League players in league-only play with an average of 4.30 kills/set, and ranks second overall with 3.72 kills/set. The senior also moved into Valpo’s all-time top-ten in service aces against the Penguins, tallying three aces to give her 119 for her career and tying Katie Bova for tenth place, and also sits just 30 digs shy of 1,000 for her career.
Bukowski Sets Things Up: Senior setter Kim Bukowski continued her march up Valpo’s all-time assists chart last week, tallying 76 assists over the Crusaders’ two matches. Bukowski surpassed Katie Bova’s mark of 3,061 career assists during the Youngstown State match on Friday, and now has 3,088 career helpers, third-most in Crusader volleyball history. The senior also got the job done on the back line for Valpo against YSU, racking up a career-high 19 digs in the victory. Bukowski currently ranks third in the Horizon League in league-only matches with 11.21 assists/set.
Root Keeps On Digging: Freshman libero Taylor Root continued her stellar rookie campaign with a pair of match highs on the back line last week for the Crusaders. Root, coming off of Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week and HLN ‘The People’s Choice’ honors, picked up 11 digs in Valpo’s sweep of Indiana State and then tallied 25 digs in the Crusader victory over Youngstown State. Root, who has paced Valpo in digs in 20 of its 21 matches this season, leads the Horizon League with 4.93 digs/set this year and has increased that average to 5.61 digs/set in league-only action.
Diebler Dominates at the Net: Junior middle hitter Tara Diebler had a standout offensive week last week for the Crusaders. Diebler kicked off the week against Indiana State by hitting at a Valpo season-best and career-high .600 clip, putting down 13 kills on just 20 swings with only one attack error. She followed with another stellar effort in Valpo’s win over Youngstown State, again registering 13 kills on .323 hitting. On the season, she is averaging 2.51 kills/set out of the middle while swinging at a .268 clip, tenth in the Horizon League.
Quickly: The Crusaders out-aced both of their opponents last week, improving to 9-0 on the season when they hold the advantage in the serving category ... freshman defensive specialist Alyssa Updegrave made her Valpo debut against Indiana State, serving match point ... freshman outside hitter Mary Dent registered her first career block, a solo stuff, to end the match against the Sycamores ... senior defensive specialist Haley Wise matched her season high with 15 digs against YSU ... Root set a new career best with eight assists versus the Penguins.