Senior Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) fueled a match-changing 9-0 run midway through the third game to lead Valparaiso to a 30-26, 22-30, 30-22, 30-13 win over Oral Roberts, clinching the Crusaders' third-straight Mid-Continent Conference Regular Season Championship.
With the Golden Eagles up 16-15 in the third game, sophomore Heidi Hammond (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville) stepped to the service line and saw the Crusaders rattle off nine straight points, three coming on Bova kills. Bova finished the match with 12 kills, 48 assists and 13 digs, the fifth triple-double of her career and fourth of this season. The senior, honored before the match with three of her teammates in a special Senior Day ceremony, hit .500 for the match to lead a Valpo attack that hit .325 overall, and a sensational .625 in the fourth game.
The entire senior class had strong performances in their final regular season match at the ARC, including Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs). Mikos put down 12 kills, hitting .476, and had a match-high five blocks. The senior, who was named earlier this week to the District V All-Academic First Team, is now 10th all-time in career kills, in addition to being the school's all-time blocking leader.
Seniors Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin), the 2004 Mid-Con Player of the Year, and Jessi Novak (Antigo, Wis.) also hit very well in the match. Moulton had 12 kills and three blocks, hitting .385, and Novak chipped in nine kills, 13 digs and a career-high four blocks.
The statistical leader on the afternoon for Valpo, however, was a sophomore, Amy Palash (Winfield, Ill./Saint Francis). Palash had a match-high 17 kills, hitting .304, to go along with 18 digs, her 15th double-double of the season.
The Golden Eagles (21-10, 12-2 Mid-Con) out-blocked the Brown and Gold 9.5-9.0, but were held to a .155 hitting percentage, hitting .059 and .061 in the third and fourth games respectively. Ori Zuzic led the Oral Roberts attack with 17 kills.
The Crusaders will now wait until next weekend to make a run at a third-straight Mid-Con Tournament title and berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Mid-Con's premier event will kick off Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center at 5:00 p.m. with second-seeded Oral Roberts taking on Western Illinois. At 7:30 p.m., top-seeded Valpo will open their draw against IUPUI. The two winners will meet Sunday, November 20 at 2:00 p.m. to decide the conference title. All of the Crusaders' Mid-Continent Conference Tournament matches can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.