VALPARAISO (8-1) AT UCLA (5-1), VILLANOVA (10-0), & WISCONSIN (5-1)
Match 1 - Friday, September 16, 5:00 p.m. vs. UCLA.
Match 2 - Saturday, September 17, 12:00 p.m. vs. Villanova.
Match 3 - Saturday, September 17, 7:00 p.m. at Wisconsin.
WHERE: InnTowner Invitational - Madison, Wis.
RADIO: WVUR-FM, 95.1, Live coverage Friday night and Saturday night. Also available on the web at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Saturday's match against Villanova will air live at www.sportsjuice.com. Ken LaVicka will handle the play-by-play with Eric Brooks providing the color commentary.
SERIES RECORD: The Crusaders will meet UCLA and Villanova for the first time in school history and will take on Wisconsin for the first time since 1990, with the Badgers leading the series 2-0. The Crusaders have never beaten a team from the Big 10 and have never faced one from the Pac 10.
TITLETOWN, INDIANA: After splitting two matches at the WMU Fall Kickoff Tournament, Valparaiso has brought home two consecutive tournament titles. The Crusaders captured the title at the Blue Demon Invitational by defeating Evansville, Chicago State, Belmont, and host DePaul. Valpo then came home last weekend and won its own Popcorn Classic for the third consecutive time, beating St. Louis, Drake, and Eastern Michigan.
MORE THAN A SETTER: Katie Bova proved her ability as a setter in the 2004 season, recording 12.21 assists per game en route to being named the Mid-Continent Conference Setter of the Year. So far in 2005, Bova has been establishing her all-around game as a force to be reckoned with. Through the first nine matches of the season, Bova has already racked up three triple-doubles, versus Central Michigan, Belmont, and Eastern Michigan. She is hitting at an impressive .372 clip in 2005 while averaging 2.84 digs and 1.97 kills per game, in addition to her 11.56 assists per game.
RAKING IN THE HONORS: Bova has been busy collecting awards and reaching milestones early on in the 2005 season. She was named Mid-Con Offensive Player of the Week August 29 after posting a triple-double and hitting .400 with 79 assists, 19 digs, and 14 kills over two matches at the WMU Fall Kickoff Tournament. Bova went on to collect MVP honors at the Blue Demon Invitational and co-MVP honors at the Popcorn Classic, recording a triple-double at each tournament. Bova passed two statistical milestones against Eastern Michigan in the final match of the Popcorn Classic, registering her 2,000th assist and 1,000th dig. In addition, Bova set a career-high with 66 assists versus Eastern Michigan.
MATRI-ARC: 2004 Mid-Con Player of the Year Lauren Moulton found the home court of the Athletics-Recreation Center to her liking this past weekend at the Popcorn Classic. Moulton led Valpo against St. Louis, hitting at a .500 clip with nine kills while recording five blocks, and followed that up with a 17-kill, four-block effort versus Drake. In the nightcap of the tournament, Moulton hit a team-best .412 with 18 kills against Eastern Michigan. She hit .386 for the tournament, averaging 3.67 kills per game, and earned co-MVP honors for her effort.
QUEEN OF BLOCKS: Since arriving at Valpo in 2002, middle blocker Liz Mikos has completely rewritten the Crusader blocking record books. Entering the 2005 season, Mikos holds numerous single-match block records and currently owns the top single-season efforts in Valpo history, both in total and solo blocks. Mikos needed just 21 blocks at the beginning of the season to become Valpo's career total blocks leader, and she picked up those blocks quickly, making her way to the top of the charts with a block against Belmont. Mikos currently finds herself just five solo blocks shy of becoming the top Crusader in that category.
TOP DEFENDER: Mikos received Mid-Con Defensive Player of the Week accolades for the fourth time in her career for her efforts at the Blue Demon Invitational. She led the Crusaders both offensively and defensively over the four matches, hitting .355 with 3.36 kills per game while tallying 26 blocks over the course of the tournament, earning herself a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Mikos hit a sizzling .733 (11-0-15) against Evansville, the fourth-best hitting percentage in a three-game match in Valpo history. Mikos continued her defensive prowess at the Popcorn Classic, picking up 16 blocks, including seven solo blocks.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP HERE: Amy Palash has picked up right where she left off after a freshman campaign in which she recorded 496 digs, fourth-best in Crusader history, and 358 kills. Palash earned Mid-Con Offensive Player of the Week honors after a Blue Demon Invitational where she hit .304 with 49 kills and 38 digs. In the title-clinching match versus DePaul, Palash registered a double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs.
CAREER HIGHS APLENTY: Jessi Novak spent September 10 revising her own personal record book. Novak set a career-high with 18 kills in the first session of the day against Drake. That mark was short-lived, however, as Novak would better that in the evening match against Eastern Michigan, where she recorded 19 kills. The senior outside hitter also posted 49 attacks and five assists, both personal bests. For her accomplishments, Novak was named to the Popcorn Classic All-Tournament Team.
CONSISTENT FOX: Jessie Fox has been a steady force in the middle for the Crusaders this season. Fox has posted at least seven kills in all but one match this season for the Brown and Gold and has recorded a block in every contest.
UNDERCLASSMEN CONTRIBUTING: Valparaiso has received solid efforts from the less-experienced members of its roster early in 2005. Sophomore libero Heidi Hammond picked up Most Valuable Libero honors at the Blue Demon Invitational, tallying double-digit digs in each of the four matches. Hammond also set a career-high with 21 digs in Valpo's victory over Eastern Michigan. Sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Meikle and freshman right side Jill Meyer received starting assignments against Drake and DePaul, respectively. Freshman Brittany Marks has seen action at libero and defensive specialist for the Crusaders, picking up ten digs against Drake and recording five digs in the late games of the match versus Eastern Michigan.
OPPONENTS SHOULD FEAR REJECTION: The Crusaders have picked up right where they left off in 2004, using the block as a scoring weapon. Valpo has recorded 90 total blocks through their first nine matches of the season, including 10 or more blocks in each of their last four matches. The Brown and Gold tied a single-match record when they put up eight solo blocks in their victory over Eastern Michigan.