Valparaiso moved within one match of its first-ever Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title with a 4-0 victory over UMKC in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind.
The Crusaders, the tournament's second seed, won their sixth straight match to move into Friday morning's championship contest against regular season champion and top seed Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles defeated tournament host IUPUI 4-0 in Thursday's other semifinal.
Valpo jumped in front beginning with doubles play. The second doubles duo of Nic Kooyers (Holland, Mich./Holland H.S.) and Shabbi Khan (Karachi, Pakistan/Oasys H.S.) posted an 8-2 victory. The Crusaders then capped off the doubles point with an 8-4 win at the top spot as Ben Dunham-Freer (Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands H.S.) and Tim Shideler (Valparaiso, Ind./Munster H.S.) posted the win. Joe Venegas (Saint Charles, Ill./North H.S.) and David Bukowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect H.S.) finished off the sweep with an 8-3 win at third doubles.
When the Brown and Gold moved to singles play, Shideler earned a 6-3, 6-4 victory at fifth singles and Bukowski notched a 7-5, 6-4 triumph at the fourth spot to move within a point of clinching the match. Mike Wagner (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) sent Valpo to the conference finals for just the third time in school history with his 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win at sixth singles. The Crusaders also advanced to the title match in 1999 and 2002.
In the matches that were not finished, Venegas led 7-5, 4-6, 3-1 at third singles but Dunham-Freer trailed 6-4, 0-6, 3-0 at the top spot and Kooyers trailed 6-3, 5-6 at second singles.
Valparaiso (9-12) will face Oral Roberts (12-12) at 9 a.m. on Friday morning in Indianapolis. The winner will earn the Mid-Con's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.