For the second straight match, the Crusaders played point-for-point with one of the nation's best, falling 30-26, 24-30, 30-13, 30-26 to #13 Missouri Saturday at the Shamrock Invitational in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Brown and Gold have now dropped three straight matches, all to ranked opponents, but took one game each from #21 Notre Dame Friday night and the 13th ranked Tigers on Saturday. Valpo has one more chance to win a match at the Shamrock Invitational later this afternoon when they square off against Idaho.
After a tight first two games on Saturday, the Crusaders hit a woeful -.314 in game three and watched the Tigers roll to a 30-13 win. But Valpo responded in the fourth game, again going back-and-forth with the nation's 13th-best team before Missouri finished it off at 30-26.
For the second straight match, Nicole Schulz
(Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) led Valpo offensively, matching her career-high, set against #21 Notre Dame Friday, with 16 kills. The junior hit .375 in the match and now has a team-high 70 kills this season after notching only 35 in her first two seasons as a reserve.
Schulz was not the only young Crusader to continue her strong play Saturday, as freshman Angie Porché
(Lynwood, Ill./Thornton-Fractional South) had 14 kills and set a career-high with three blocks. Another youngster, sophomore Allison Sears
(Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) was the third Crusader with double-digit kills, recording 10 and hitting .222.
Defensively for Valpo, four players had double-digit digs led by sophomore libero Brittany Marks
(Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) who had 23. Tiffany Meikle
(Cottage Grove, Wis./Monona Grove), who set a career-high with 18 digs against #21 Notre Dame, had 15 against the Tigers and Heidi Hammond
(Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville) and Sara Hughes
(San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg, Ohio, H.S.) had 10 each. Hughes also chipped in 45 assists.
Nicole Wilson and Jessica Vander Kooi led #13 Missouri (5-1) with 16 kills each. The Tigers will meet the Fighting Irish Saturday night to decide the tournament championship.
Valpo's (3-3) match Saturday against Idaho, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., will determine third place at the tournament and can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.