Valparaiso saw its five-match winning streak come to an end on Tuesday evening, falling to Illinois-Chicago three games to one (23-30, 30-20, 30-27, 30-27) in the Windy City.
In the opening game, Valpo fell behind quickly 4-0, but wasted little time rallying. The Crusaders knotted the score at six, and stayed within shouting distance the rest of the game. Valpo took its first lead 9-8 after back-to-back UIC hitting errors. The Brown and Gold took the lead for good in game one behind the serving of Lindsey Moore (Wakarusa, Ind./Penn H.S.). Moore had two aces during a 7-0 run to put the Crusaders in front 19-14. The Flames closed to within 21-20, before Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.) came off the bench for three late kills as Valpo finished with a 9-3 run to win the opener. The Crusaders hit .250 in the victory on 13 kills and just three errors.
Illinois-Chicago broke a 6-6 deadlock in the match's second game with a 6-1 run. The Crusaders closed to within four, 18-14, but Lindsey Filkins six kills helped the Flames run away with game two. Valpo's hitting also hindered the Brown and Gold's cause, hitting .000 with nine errors in the game.
Game three saw the Crusaders jump out to an early 9-4 lead only to see UIC come back and take a 12-10 advantage of their own after an 8-1 run spearheaded by three kills by Gina Caneva. Valpo kept the game close from that point on. The two teams were nip-and-tuck until Lara Clarkson reeled off four straight kills as the Flames pulled away for a 30-27 win. The Crusaders hit .333 with just four errors in game three, but UIC sit equally as well (.316). Five serve aces lifted Illinois-Chicago in the game.
The fourth game was a tale of two halves. UIC raced out to a 28-15 lead only to see the Crusaders climb to within two before the game was finally decided. Valpo's run began with Jessi Novak (Antigo, Wis./Antigo H.S.) serving seven consecutive points and Heather Hynds (Sylvan Lake, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) adding three more. Marion Hansen (Huntley, Ill./Huntley H.S.) had three kills during the rally, but it came up just short.
For the match, Hansen led the Crusaders with 11 kills while adding 17 digs. Hynds added ten kills, while Mikos had six blocks. Sara Silcox (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City H.S.) had a match-high 18 digs.
Felkins led UIC (12-4) with 23 kills and 16 digs while hitting .305. Lara Clarkson added 13 kills and 15 digs. The Flames outhit Valpo .203-.158 and held a 71-48 advantage in kills.
Valpo (8-4) will return to the court on Saturday evening when they open Mid-Continent Conference action hosting IUPUI in a 5 p.m. contest. Valpo will try to extend its ten-match homecourt conference winning streak against the Jaguars.