Valparaiso went into 15th-ranked Notre Dame on Wednesday evening and turned in a valient effort before falling to the Fighting Irish 30-21, 30-17, 32-30.
Notre Dame opened the match showing why they are ranked nationally, building a 12-3 lead. Valpo rebounded with a 6-1 run, capped off by a pair of blocks by Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.) and Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) to close within four. After the two schools traded several side outs, a Heather Hynds (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) kill cut the Fighting Irish to 16-13.
Emily Loomas proved to be too much for Valpo though, tallying eight kills in 16 attempts without an error in the game as Notre Dame closed the game with a 5-1 run to take the opener. Valpo’s defense made things tough for the hosts though, as the Crusaders tallied 31 digs.
The Brown and Gold came out in game two and kept things close early. The teams seemingly traded points for the first third of the game, and after a Notre Dame service error, the Crusaders trailed just 11-10. The Irish ran off four straight points, keyed by a pair of aces and a kill by Lauren Kelbey. Valpo again fought back though, as a pair of Moulton kills and two errors by Notre Dame again closed the game to 16-14 in favor of the hosts. However, the Irish reeled off 14 of the game’s final 17 points for the victory.
Michelle Robinson (Bloomington, Ill./Normal H.S.) tallied five kills for Valpo in the game, while Kelbey and Carolyn Cooper each recorded five kills for Notre Dame. Notre Dame hit .474 in game two with 18 kills and no errors, while Valpo managed just .133 hitting.
Following intermission, Valpo came out fighting. In a game that went back and forth, the Crusaders took advantage of numerous hitting and service errors by Notre Dame to keep it close. Five straight points by the Brown and Gold, including a pair of blocks by Mikos and Cyndi Norman (Minooka, Ill./Minooka H.S.) and a solo by Mikos gave Valpo a 20-16 advantage. Valpo maintained a four point advantage, 24-20, before Notre Dame reeled off seven of the next eight points to take a 27-25 advantage.
Valpo again fought back, and when Mikos rejected a Notre Dame shot, the Crusaders had game point at 29-28. Kinder then tallied a kill to tie the game, but Marion Hansen (Huntley, Ill./Huntley H.S.) answered with another kill to give Valpo its second game point. The lead was short-lived though, as Loomis tallied a pair of kills sandwiched around a Kim Fletcher kill to pull out the victory.
Robinson led the Crusaders with 12 kills, while Moulton and Hansen each added seven for the Brown and Gold. Hansen also added 14 digs. Norman tallied her second straight double-double with 33 assists and ten digs, while Sara Silcox (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City H.S.) registered 26 digs for Valpo (8-1).
Loomis led Notre Dame with 24 kills while hitting .571, while Kelbey added 11 kills hitting .524. Kristen Kinder dished out 35 assists, while twin sister Jessica tallied 28 digs.
Notre Dame (5-1) hit .258 for the match with 62 kills, while Valpo hit .135 with 36 kills. The Fighting Irish also outdug the Crusaders 81-75. Each team tallied seven blocks, with Mikos recording six for the Brown and Gold.
Valparaiso will return to action on Friday evening when the Crusaders travel to DeKalb, Ill. for the Northern Illinois Invitational. In match one, Valpo will face Stony Brook at 5 p.m.