Valparaiso’s bid to claim the 2007 Redbird Classic came up short Saturday night, as the hosts from Illinois State downed the Crusaders 3-0 (31-29, 30-18, 30-23).
The opening game was tight throughout, featuring 13 ties and six lead changes. The Crusaders found themselves down 26-23 late in the game, but came back to take a 27-26 edge on a kill by Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./South). But the lead was short-lived, as Valpo committed service errors on two of the next three points, and an attack error gave Illinois State game point at 29-28. An Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) kill tied the game at 29, but another service error followed by a Redbird ace closed out game one.
Illinois State seemed to seize momentum from the tight win in the opener, taking game two handily from the Crusaders. The Redbirds hit at a .314 clip in the second game versus just a .053 hitting percentage for Valpo. The third game was more of the same, as Illinois State took an early lead and never lost it on the way to sweep.
Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) stood out on the back line for the Crusaders, picking up a match-high 22 digs. It was the seventh time in her career that Malicoat has tallied at least 20 digs in a three-game match, and marks the 44th consecutive time she has paced Valpo in the category, dating back to November 4, 2005.
Offensively, Sears led the Brown and Gold with a match-high 16 kills on .310 hitting. Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) was the only other Crusader in double digits, racking up 10 kills. Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West) dished out 22 assists on the night.
Illinois State (2-1) received well-rounded efforts from both Peggy Riessen and M.C. Richmond. Riessen picked up 12 kills on .310 hitting and tallied 11 digs, while Richmond swung at a .391 clip with 11 kills and 14 digs. Kari Staehlin chipped in nine digs and six blocks.
Valparaiso (1-1) will next travel to the Western New York Invitational this coming Friday and Saturday. The Crusaders will play at Buffalo Friday night, and will follow with neutral-site matches at Niagara Saturday against Binghamton and Saint Francis (N.Y.). All the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.