Valparaiso found itself on the wrong end of a three-game sweep at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Saturday afternoon, as Wright State came in and defeated the Crusaders, 30-24, 30-27, 30-26.
“We got outplayed tonight by a team that came in determined to win,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “My hat goes off to Wright State, as they played extremely well. They are a senior-laden team, and those seniors came up big for them today.”
Valpo got out to a quick start in the opening game, forcing the Raiders to use an early timeout at 7-2. Wright State bounced back quickly, scoring the next three points and eight of the next 10 to take its first lead at 10-9. The middle portion of the game was closely contested, with the Crusaders holding a 16-15 lead about halfway through. That would be Valpo’s final lead of the game, however, as the Raiders went on a 6-1 run to take a 21-17 edge, and the lead would not drop below two points the rest of the way.
The second game saw the two teams reverse roles, as it was Wright State which forced Valpo to use a timeout at 7-2. But just as the Raiders did in the opener, the Crusaders went on a run of their own, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to go ahead 12-9. Wright State responded, eventually regaining the lead at 18-17. Valpo did not regain the lead the rest of the way, tying the game twice and cutting the lead to one point on five occasions, but the Raiders sided out every time to keep the Crusaders at bay and go into the break up two games to none.
Game three looked early on like it would go Valpo’s way, as the Crusaders held a 15-9 advantage halfway through. But Wright State kept the game within striking distance, scoring the next six points to knot it up at 15. Valpo responded with a 6-2 run to force a Wright State timeout, but again the Raiders came back, closing out the match on a 13-5 run to earn the sweep.
“I was disappointed we were able to keep the score close in all three games, but were never able to go on a run and put away a game,” said Avery. “When it was time for big points to be won, it seemed like we were making lots of errors, and Wright State was winning the points.”
Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) led the Crusaders offensively with 22 kills on 52 swings, both marks ranking among the top-five in a three-game match in Valpo history. Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) seconded Bollenbacher with 19 kills on 50 swings, but no other Crusader recorded more than five kills.
I thought we got good production from both Val and Angie tonight,” said Avery. “The problem is that we’re not getting the production we need from other spots on the court right now.”
Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led all players with 24 digs. Malicoat, who is now averaging 6.15 digs/game in Horizon League action, already ranks fifth on Valpo’s single-season digs chart with 499 with at least eight matches remaining in the season.
Wright State(9-14, 6-5 Horizon) was led offensively by Alisha Kimbro, who tallied 16 kills. Tara Geegan added 11 kills and nine blocks in the winning effort, while Lexi Leonhard registered 16 digs. Valpo held a 53-45 advantage in kills over Wright State, but committed 30 hitting errors to the Raiders’ 13.
Valparaiso (16-7, 6-4 Horizon) closes out the 2007 home campaign with two key Horizon League matches at the Athletics-Recreation Center next weekend. The Crusaders will welcome league leader Milwaukee to the ARC at 7 p.m. Friday evening.