VALPARAISO (29-4, 14-0 Mid-Con) vs. NOTRE DAME (20-8, 9-1 BIG EAST)
WHAT: NCAA Tournament First Round
WHEN: Friday, December 3, 2004, 5 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Wisconsin Field House (10,600), Madison, Wis.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. Ken LaVicka will handle the play-by-play, while Brent Whitlock will provide color commentary. The match will also be broadcast on the internet at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Carin Avery, who is in her 5th season of coaching, and 3rd with the Crusaders. She is 131-46 overall and 76-22 at Valpo. Notre Dame is led by Debbie Brown who is 460-200 overall in her 20th season and 343-117 in her 14th season at Notre Dame.
SERIES RECORD: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 17-4. The Fighting Irish had won 17 straight matches against Valpo before the Crusaders recorded a 26-30, 30-24, 30-26, 24-30, 15-12 win in Notre Dame back on September 7, 2004.
HOW THEY GOT IN THE TOURNAMENT: Valparaiso earned an automatic bid from the Mid-Continent Conference after winning the conference tournament. The Crusaders defeated Oral Roberts 30-24, 30-28, 30-20 in the championship. Notre Dame earned automatic bid out of the BIG EAST Conference.
Valparaiso University will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday evening in the school's second straight NCAA Tournament appearance in volleyball. The Crusaders won the Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament championships, and set a new school record for victories in a season with 29 this year.
MOULTON, BOVA, AND AVERY EARN LEAGUE'S TOP HONORS: Valparaiso took home three of the league's top honors as the Mid-Continent Conference's postseason awards were handed out. Lauren Moulton was named the Mid-Con Player of the Year after averaging 3.36 kills and 1.14 blocks per game, while hitting .293 on the season. Katie Bova was the league's Setter of the Year, dishing out 12.86 assists per game while adding 1.58 kills. She also directed Valpo to a .239 team hitting percentage. Moulton and Bova were both named to the Mid-Con First Team. Carin Avery was named Coach of the Year after guiding Valpo to a 29-4 record, and the league's regular season title.
TWO EARN SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: Valpo also added a pair of Second Team All-Conference selections to its list of award winners. Jessie Fox averaged 2.70 kills and 1.20 blocks per game, while hitting .279 on the year. Liz Mikos added 2.50 kills per game while leading the Mid-Con in blocking with 1.57 per game.
PALASH NAMED TO ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: Amy Palash earned All-Freshman honors in the Mid-Con after ranking second on the team in both kills per game (3.01) and digs per game (4.15).
MIKOS AMONG NATION'S BEST IN BLOCKS: Valpo junior Liz Mikos currently is 17th in the country in blocks per game. Her 1.57 blocks per game help to lead Valpo's potent blocking attack. As a team, the Crusaders are 26th in the country in blocks per game, averaging 2.97 on the season.
CRUSADERS RANKED IN NATIONAL CATEGORIES: Valpo ranks among volleyball's national elite in several categories as a team. The Crusaders are 13th in the nation in digs per game with 19.16, while holding an .879 winning percentage, 15th best in Division I.
BOVA TOURNAMENT MVP, THREE NAMED TO ALL-TOURNEY TEAM: Junior setter Katie Bova was named the Most Valuable Player of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament, while Liz Mikos and Jessie Novak each joined Bova on the All-Tournament Team.
VALPO EARNS FIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS IN 2004: Valpo was well-represented by the Mid-Continent Conference when the league handed out weekly honors this fall. Lauren Moulton earned Offensive Player of the Week honors twice (Sept. 27 and Oct. 4), while Jessie Fox (Nov. 8) also earned offensive honors. Liz Mikos (Sept. 13) and Amy Palash (Oct. 11) each were named Defensive Players of the Week this season.
A BLOCKING TRIO: Liz Mikos, Jessie Fox, and Lauren Moulton all have had stellar seasons at the net for the Brown and Gold. Individually, they rank second, third, and fourth on Valpo's single season blocks list with 181, 138, and 131 respectively. Moulton set the single season record last year with 196.
SILCOX SETS DIGS RECORD: Sara Silcox has set a new Valpo single season dig record after posting 581 this season, surpassing her own mark of 543 set last year. She ranks first, second, and fourth on Valpo's single season list for her efforts each of the last three years.
SILCOX VALPO'S CAREER DIG RECORD HOLDER: Senior Sara Silcox shattered Valpo's career dig record earlier this season. She enters the NCAA Tournament with 1,866 all-time, 329 more than Lori Barton's (1988-1991) second place total of 1,537.
MIKOS SECOND ALL-TIME IN CAREER BLOCKS: Liz Mikos ranks second on Valpo's all-time blocking lists. Her 420 total blocks trail only graduate assistant Heather Hynds' (2000-2003) total of 443. Mikos has one more season of eligibility left as well. Mikos is also second on the career solo blocks list with 104. She trails Jennie Walton (1991-1994) by just 19 rejections.
VALPO PERFECT ON NEUTRAL FLOORS THIS SEASON: The Crusaders have posted a perfect 6-0 record thus far this season on neutral courts. Valpo won two neutral site matches at the Ball State Classic in Muncie, Ind. and the Kentucky Conference Challenge in Lexington, Ky. The Crusaders also won neutral site matches at the Billiken Invitational in Saint Louis, Mo. and the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
VOLLEYBALL IN DECEMBER: This will mark only the second time in school history Valparaiso's volleyball team has played in December. Last year the Crusaders played on December 5 in the NCAA Tournament against Nebraska.
STREAKING CRUSADERS: Valpo enters the NCAA Tournament riding a nine-match winning streak. The streak is the Crusaders second longest of the year, as the Brown and Gold won 14 straight earlier this season. In fact, Valpo has won 23 of its last 24 contests, the lone loss coming in five games at Arkansas.
NOTRE DAME NOTES: Notre Dame is making its 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish have won four straight matches entering the tournament and 15 of their last 18 overall.
Lauren Brewster leads the Fighting Irish offensive attack. The junior is hitting .315 while averaging 3.61 kills per game. She also ranks 25th in the nation with 1.51 blocks per game.
Lauren Kelbley leads Notre Dame in kills per game with 3.79, while Ashley Tarutis is dishing out 10.28 assists per game. Defensively, Meg Henican is averaging a team-leading 4.89 digs per game.
As a team, Notre Dame ranks sixth in the country with 3.37 blocks per game.