For the second straight day Valparaiso's Mid-Continent Conference battle came down the final match and for the second straight day the Crusaders prevailed as the Brown and Gold won its fifth straight match defeating Western Illinois 4-3 on Saturday afternoon in Tulsa, Okla.
Trailing 3-2, Valpo's Mike Wagner (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) came from a set down and posted a three-set victory over Sisay Solassie 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to even the match at one with a win at third singles. Joe Venegas (Saint Charles, Ill./North H.S.) then gave the Crusaders the victory with his thrilling 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-4 win over Justin Junck at second singles.
For the second straight day Valpo fell behind after doubles and had to rally. Western Illinois' Martin Bostrom and Sean Ragee-Nelson downed Nic Kooyers (Holland, Mich./Holland H.S.) and Mike Shideler (Valparaiso, Ind./Munster H.S.) 8-6 at first doubles and Mike Tiu and Josh Wittenberg defeated Alex Lau (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson Senior H.S.) and Dan Brunette (Carmel, Ind./Lutheran H.S. of Indianapolis) 8-1 at the third spot. Wagner and Dave Bukowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect H.S.) were even with Junck and Neil Lesinski 7-7 when the match was stopped with the point being determined.
Valpo tied the match at one with Lau's 6-4, 6-3 win over Tiu at sixth singles but Western Illinois (10-6, 2-1 Mid-Con) regained the lead quickly. Nelson topped Bukowski 6-3, 6-4 at fifth singles before Koyers retied the match at two with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Bostrom. With four singles contests going three sets, Lesinski put the Leathernecks on the verge of victory with his 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over Shideler in the third spot before the Crusaders rallied at three and two.
Valparaiso (8-8, 2-0) has worked its record back to .500 at 8-8 after starting the season 0-6. The Crusaders will conclude cluster action in Tulsa on Sunday morning playing host Oral Roberts (5-11, 2-0) in a matchup of the two remaining unbeatens in the Mid-Con. First serve is set for 9 a.m.