Valparaiso played point-for-point with #16 California in its NCAA first round matchup, but the Golden Bears prevailed over the Crusaders 30-26, 30-24, 30-21 Friday evening in Madison, Wis. The loss closes out the Crusaders' season at 27-8.
The first game was tight throughout. The Crusaders started the match off strong, as Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) and Jessie Fox (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) combined on a block for the first point. The Brown and Gold gained their largest advantage at 10-6 off a kill from Fox. Cal fought back, and a kill from Morgan Beck gave the Bears their first lead at 12-11. The Crusaders tied the score six more times in the game, the latest being at 26-all, but the Bears responded with a 4-0 run to end the game, with a kill by Angie Pressey finishing the opener.
Amy Palash (Winfield, Ill./Saint Francis H.S.) led Valpo in game one with four kills, while Alex Chism (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central H.S./Miami University) notched five digs. Pressey paced the Bears with six kills in their first game win.
The second game was another close matchup, with Valpo taking its largest lead midway through the game at 16-12, taking six out of seven points. The Bears responded in turn, capturing 11 of the next 15 points to go up 22-19 and force a Crusader timeout. The Brown and Gold would not go down quietly, procuring four of the next six points and leading to a Cal timeout. The Bears ended the game much like they did the opener, taking six of the final seven points to go up two games to none.
Moulton led the way offensively in game two, tallying five kills, but no other Crusader had more than two. Libero Brittany Marks (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial H.S.) notched five digs, while Fox was in on two blocks. Beck had four kills for the Bears, while Alicia Powers was part of three of the five Cal team blocks in the game.
California jumped out quickly in the third game, doubling up Valpo at 12-6 and forcing Crusader head coach Carin Avery to spend a timeout. The Brown and Gold responded by capturing five of the next six points and closed in to within 21-20. But the Bears would not give up the lead, ending the match on a 9-1 run, capped off by a Pressey kill.
Senior Jessi Novak (Antigo, Wis./Antigo H.S.) led the Crusaders on offense in game three, notching four kills, while Moulton and Palash chipped in three apiece. Pressey tallied six kills in the final game to go along with six digs.
Overall, Moulton led the Valpo attack with 11 kills, with Palash and Novak each adding eight. Senior Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) dished out 28 assists for the Brown and Gold. Defensively, Marks was the only Crusader to finish with double-digit digs, notching ten, while Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.) paced the Crusader block, totaling five on the match. Angie Pressey led the Golden Bears (19-10) with 15 kills, and Jillian Davis led the Cal defense with 21 digs.
Valparaiso closes out its 2005 campaign with a 27-8 record, matching the second-best record in program history. The Crusaders' four seniors ? Bova, Mikos, Moulton, and Novak ? finish their career as the most prolific senior class in school history, with a 103-31 mark. Moulton leaves as the Crusaders' all-time leader in hitting percentage (.281) and among the top-five in kills (1,195) and blocks (404). Bova finishes in the top-10 in career assists (3,061), digs (1,308), and aces (119). Mikos closes out her career as Valpo's all-time total block (585) and solo block (143) leader, while also finishing among the top-five in hitting percentage.