A dominant win in game three was not enough for Valparaiso Saturday afternoon, as the Crusaders dropped a 3-1 (30-25, 30-25, 16-30, 30-22) decision at Cleveland State.
Cleveland State used a 6-0 run in the middle of the opener to take an 18-11 edge and extended the lead out to as many as nine points. The Crusaders fought back to within three at 28-25, but the Vikings scored the last two points to take the opening game. Valpo owned the lead for the first half of the second set and led 15-10 halfway through. Cleveland State rallied with a 9-1 spurt to take control of the game for good, however, and went on to take the game and a two-game lead into the break.
The third game was a whole different story. Valparaiso took advantage of six service aces in the frame, including two apiece from Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West) and Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial), to run out to an 18-5 lead and cruise home, ending the game fittingly on an ace by Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio] H.S.). But the momentum would not carry over to the fourth game, as the Vikings jumped out to an early 9-4 edge and would never lose the lead on their way to the victory.
Valpo struggled all night offensively, hitting at just a .118 clip for the match while getting blocked by Cleveland State 20 times. Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) paced the Crusaders with 15 kills, while Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) added 14 markers and Jill Meyer (Crystal Lake, Ill./South) chipped in 11 kills.
Bukowski picked up her second double-double of the season, dishing out 28 assists while also tallying 10 digs. Malicoat led Valpo with 12 digs, while Tara Newton (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) set a new career-best with eight blocks, three of them of the solo variety.
Cleveland State (19-7, 12-3 Horizon) was led by 15 kills and six blocks from Beth Greulich. Alexis Korovich chipped in 14 kills, 12 digs and six blocks, while Amy Benz recorded a staggering 14 rejections.
Valparaiso (17-10, 7-7 Horizon) returns to the court for the final matches of the regular season next weekend. The Crusaders will open the weekend at Loyola on Friday night at 7 p.m.