In a match dominated by the defense of both squads, Valparaiso defeated Western Illinois Saturday evening 3-1 (30-25, 28-30, 32-30, 30-17) at Macomb, Ill. in a Mid-Continent Conference battle.
The third game was the turning point in the match, as the Crusaders and Westerwinds returned from intermission tied at one game apiece. Valpo found themselves facing game point at 29-30, but a Jessie Fox (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) kill tied the game. Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.) followed with a solo block, giving her a record-tying 123 for her career, to give the Crusaders a lead they would not relinquish in a game that featured 17 ties and eight lead changes. Valpo put the match away early in the fourth game, jumping out to a quick 8-1 lead and never letting Western Illinois (5-8, 1-1 Mid-Con) get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Defense stood out on both sides of the net. Valpo sent 248 attacks, a record for a four-game match, over the net, but the Westerwinds responded with 110 digs. Jennifer Alexander racked up 32 digs for the hosts, making her Western Illinois' all-time digs leader. The Crusaders countered with 119 digs of their own, including career-high totals of 24 for Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) and 16 for Alex Chism (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central H.S./Miami, Ohio).
The Brown and Gold also placed five players in double figures in the kills category, led by 18 from Amy Palash (Winfield, Ill./Saint Francis H.S.). Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) added 14 kills, while Fox chipped in 13 to go along with five blocks. Jenna Yurs led all players with nine total blocks for the Westerwinds.
Valparaiso (11-3, 2-0 Mid-Con) steps out of conference play to battle regional rival Illinois-Chicago at the ARC on Tuesday. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.