The Crusaders jumped out to a 2-1 lead off an impressive game three performance, but were unable to hang on, as Illinois State rallied to down Valpo 3-2 (26-30, 33-31, 17-30, 30-26, 15-11) Tuesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Brown and Gold came out of intermission fired up, using eight kills on just 10 attacks from Nicole Schulz (Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) to hit .485 in game three and take the lead. The Redbirds fought back though, pulling away late in each of the final two games to earn the victory.
Schulz continued her impressive junior campaign, tallying a career-best 19 kills and hitting .471 for the match. She is hitting at a .328 clip on the season, on pace to set the Valpo single-season hitting percentage record.
Three other Crusaders also reached double figures in kills, paced by 20 from Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South). Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) added 19 markers as well, while Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) chipped in 11, on a career-high 40 attacks.
Bollenbacher also set a career-best on the defensive side of the ball, recording 18 digs on a Valpo backline that placed five players in double figures in the category. Brittany Marks (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led the squad with 28 digs, while Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio]) also set a new career-best with 17 picks.
Four players picked up double-digit kills for the Redbirds, led by 18 from Kari Staehlin, while Erin Lindsey approached a triple-double, registering 56 assists, nine digs, and eight kills.
The Crusaders outhit Illinois State (10-10) for the match, .270-.220, and also recorded more digs (95-76). The two squads came up with seven blocks apiece, while the Redbirds held the slight edge in service aces, 5-4.
Valparaiso (14-8) returns to Mid-Con play Friday as the Crusaders travel to Michigan to take on Oakland. First serve is set for 6 p.m., and can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.