Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)
at Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Friday, Aug. 27 - 1 p.m. CT vs. Virginia (0-0, 0-0 ACC)
at La Salle Invitational (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Friday, Aug. 27 - 6 p.m. CT at La Salle (0-0, 0-0 A-10)
Saturday, Aug. 28 - noon CT vs. Hartford (0-0, 0-0 America East)
3 p.m. CT vs. Niagara (0-0, 0-0 MAAC)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso kicks off the 2010 volleyball campaign this weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. with four matches, taking on Virginia in a neutral-site match before competing in the La Salle Invitational. This marks the second straight year the Crusaders have competed in the state of Pennsylvania, as the 2009 squad played at Pitt’s tournament.
Following the Crusaders: All three matches of the La Salle Invitational will be broadcast live over the airwaves of Valpo’s student radio station, WVUR (95.1 FM), and online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will be available for all three matches from La Salle as well, while all four of the weekend’s contests will have live chats available at www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: Carin Avery enters her ninth season at the helm of the Crusader volleyball program having experienced nothing but success at head coach. Just one win shy of 250 for her career, Avery is 194-73 (.727) in her eight years at Valpo and owns a 249-97 (.720) record overall in ten years as a head coach. She ranks among the top-20 winningest active coaches in Division I volleyball and is Valpo’s all-time leader in both wins and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Despite having four opponents on the slate, Valparaiso has no series history with any of the foes, as the Crusaders will face Virginia, La Salle, Hartford and Niagara each for the first time this weekend. In all this season, the Crusaders will take on eight teams for the first time in program history.
Valpo in Season Openers: Valpo lost its season opener last year for the first time in five seasons, falling to Colorado at the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. Overall under Avery, the Crusaders are 5-3 in season-opening matches.
Looking Back at 2009: Valparaiso enjoyed another successful season in 2009, finishing the year 22-11 overall and 12-4 in Horizon League play. The Crusaders finished second in the Horizon League regular season standings for the second straight season, marking eight times in the last nine years they have earned a top-two finish in conference play.
Eight Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders’ 22 victories last year helped the program continue a tremendous streak of success. Valparaiso has won 20 or more matches every year since 2002, Avery’s first at the helm of the Crusader program. Valpo is one of just 13 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches in each of the last eight years.
Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish third in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. Only Milwaukee, last year’s tournament champion, and Cleveland State, last season’s regular season champion, were chosen ahead of the Crusaders.
No Longer a Rookie: Sophomore libero Taylor Root enters the 2010 season having been named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year in 2009. Root led the league with 5.05 digs/set, among the top-30 nationally, and set a new Crusader freshman record with 586 digs, fifth-most overall in a single campaign in program history. Also an All-League and All-Newcomer selection, Root was one of just 19 freshmen nationwide to be named a CVU.com ‘Rising Star’. She also received two Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week honors and earned spots on three All-Tournament Teams.
Plenty of Experience Returns: While Root is the only All-League honoree returning in 2010 for the Crusaders, nine letterwinners in all are back for Valpo as the season begins. Seniors Tara Diebler and Katie Layman filled the middle hitter roles for the Crusaders in 2009, while juniors Katie Britton and Amy Groesbeck saw the majority of the action at outside hitter and right side, respectively. Junior Jenny Pokorny moves back to setter this year after seeing time all over the court last season, while senior Andrea Balsis settled into a back-row role a year ago and sophomore Mary Dent earned valuable experience on the outside. In addition, fifth-year senior Val Bollenbacher is back in action after suffering a season-ending injury in the first match of last season.
Honored Returnees: Root is far from the only returnee to have received special honors during her career. Bollenbacher was a Horizon League All-Tournament Team selection in 2007 and earned Mid-Con All-Freshman Team accolades in 2006. Bollenbacher also was an All-Tournament Team selection at the Lady Topper Invitational in 2008, while Katie Britton (Drake Invitational) and Amy Groesbeck (Saluki Invitational) earned All-Tournament honors last season.
Record Book Watch: A number of Crusaders are threatening to break into Valpo’s career charts with solid years in 2010. Bollenbacher enters her final year just 202 kills shy of Valpo’s all-time top-10 in the category, while Diebler is 39 blocks away from the top-10 for all-time rejections. Britton will look to maintain or move up the hitting percentage chart, where she is currently 10th, hitting at a .236 clip for her career, while with a full year as primary setter, Pokorny could move as high as eighth on the assists chart.
What Needs Replaced: Valpo will have to replace three seniors from last year’s squad, one of the most accomplished classes in program history. Angie Porché was a two-time Honorable Mention All-American, the 2008 Horizon League Player of the Year, and the Crusaders’ all-time record holder in both kills and attacks. Kim Bukowski ended her career as a two-time All-League selection, in addition to an Honorable Mention All-Region honor in 2008, and closed her time at Valpo third in program history in assists. Haley Wise picked up 572 digs on the back line during her four years as a Crusader.
Welcome Newbies: The Crusaders will have plenty of new faces for fans to put names to in 2010, as a class of eight freshmen enters together for their rookie year. The eight-person class, the largest Avery has brought in during her time at Valpo, makes up almost half of the 17-player roster, also the largest under Avery.