Valparaiso held Buffalo to a .033 hitting percentage on its way to a three-game sweep (30-26, 30-19, 30-17) in Buffalo, N.Y. Friday night.
“We had a great day today as a team,” said Valpo head coach Carin Avery. “Not only did we get a good win, but we were able to visit Niagara Falls. That’s part of the reason we come to these early-season tournaments, not just to play, but also to bond as a team.”
The Crusaders got off to a good start in game one, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of service aces from Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South). Porché ended the match with five service aces, good for third-best in a three-game match in Valpo history.
The game would be close throughout. While Buffalo would never gain the lead, the Bulls tied the game on three occasions, the latest coming at 23-23. But Porché and Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./South) had two kills apiece as Valpo won seven of the last ten points to close out the opening game.
Buffalo led early in game two, but the Crusaders quickly seized control, taking the lead for good at 8-7. Valpo never relinquished the lead in the third game, taking 15 of the last 21 points to close out the sweep.
The Crusaders received a great offensive effort from many of their hitters. Porché led Valpo with 13 kills and hit at a .310 clip. Nicole Schulz (Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) hit .400 with 11 kills, while Meyer and Tiffany Meikle (Cottage Grove, Wis./Monona Grove) each registered eight kills and hit .463.
“Our two right-side hitters, Jill and Nicole, both had a great match,” said Avery. “Both of them are really on top of their games right now, and it’s awesome to watch them both play so well.”
Defensively, Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led the Crusaders for the 45th consecutive time in the digs category, picking up a match-high 15 digs. Four different players picked up multiple blocks, led by three from Sears.
The Crusaders hit at a .297 clip for the match and more than doubled Buffalo’s kill total, tallying 49 kills to the Bulls’ 24. Valpo also far outpaced the Bulls in digs, 41-23, and had six blocks to 5.5 for Buffalo (0-5).
“This was a great team effort, but we still have room for improvement,” said Avery. “Once we learn as a group to limit our unforced errors, this will be a very good team, but right now we’re making too many errors.”
Valparaiso (2-1) continues play at the Western New York Invitational on Saturday with two neutral-site matches at Niagara. The Crusaders take on Binghamton at 9 a.m. CDT and follow with a match against St. Francis (N.Y.) at 3:30 p.m. CDT. Both matches will be available live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.