*Milwaukee at Valpo - Friday, Oct. 26 - 7 p.m.
*Green Bay at Valpo - Saturday, Oct. 27 - 7 p.m.
The Matchups: Valparaiso closes out its 12-match home slate this weekend with two key Horizon League matchups. The Crusaders will host Milwaukee Friday night and Green Bay on Saturday night, with Senior Day festivies immediately preceding the match against the Phoenix. The Crusaders have split 18 all-time meetings with Milwaukee and hold a 10-6 edge in the series against Green Bay.
Last Meetings: The Crusaders took league leader Milwaukee to four games on Oct. 7, but eventually fell, 3-1 (30-18, 30-21, 33-35, 31-29). Angie Porché led Valpo with 19 kills, while Val Bollenbacher registered 16 and Jill Meyer added 12. Brittany Malicoat led all players with 20 digs.
Valpo snapped a two-match losing streak with a 3-1 (22-30, 30-25, 30-23, 30-24) victory at Green Bay on Oct. 6. Tiffany Meikle registered a career-best six service aces in the third game alone, including four in a five-point span late in the game to bring the Crusaders back from a deficit. Five players combined to set ten career bests in the victory over the Phoenix, including career-high kill totals for Meyer (16), Tara Newton (12) and Katie Layman (9).
Last Week: Valparaiso split two Horizon League matches at the Athletics-Recreation Center, defeating Butler in four games before falling to Wright State in three straight. Angie Porché combined for 45 kills over the two matches, while Val Bollenbacher reached double figures in kills in both matches as well. Brittany Malicoat continued her superb play on the back line, registering 57 digs, an average of 8.14 digs/game.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will broadcast Friday’s match over the airwaves, while Saturday’s will be available through the Horizon League Network videocast. Valparaiso’s campus radio station is planning on broadcasting almost all of the Crusader regular season volleyball matches this year, plus any matches as part of the Horizon League Championships. Most matches will be carried over the station’s airwaves and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics, while select matches may be carried on www.sportsjuice.com.
Closing Out Strong: Under Carin Avery, Valparaiso has always closed out its home slate on the right foot. The Crusaders have not dropped a Senior Day matchup in the five years with Avery at the helm. Also, each of the five seasons has seen the Crusaders sweep both matches in the final conference weekend of the regular season at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Offense at the Top: Valpo is one of the top teams in the Horizon League in the offensive categories. The Crusaders currently rank second in kills with 16.11/game, trailing only Milwaukee, pace League teams with 15.17 assists/game and sit a close third in hitting percentage at .214. Nationally, the Crusaders rank 24th in assists/game and 35nd in kills/game.
Digging Deep: Valparaiso has enjoyed a distinct edge in digs over its opponents all season long. The Crusaders, while next to last in the Horizon League in the category, currently rank 95th nationally with 16.99 digs/game. Through 23 matches, the Crusaders have out-dug their opponents 22 times, with the only exception being the match at League foe Milwaukee. Last Friday against Butler, Valpo posted its season-best in the digs category, tallying 96 digs in the four-game match as four Crusaders reached double figures.
Aces Come in Spades: With at least eight matches remaining in 2007, this year’s Crusaders already rank tenth in a single season in Valpo history in service aces with 183. The 2007 squad is also poised to register the most aces of any Avery-led team, a mark currently held by the 2003 squad with 200 aces. Valpo leads the HL and ranks 35th nationally with 2.10 aces/game and currently boasts three of the top-five individuals in the category in the league.
Avery Approaching Milestone: Crusader head coach Carin Avery is just three wins shy of 200 in her coaching career. She is poised to reach the mark less than four years after recording her 100th career victory, which occurred Nov. 14, 2003 against Oakland.
Crusaders Tabbed Third: The Horizon League coaches have picked Valparaiso to finish third in its first season of play in the league. The Crusaders tallied 50 points and two first-place votes in the polling, in which a first-place vote is worth eight points. Milwaukee is the preseason favorite to win the championship, garnering 58 points and five first-place votes, followed by Cleveland State. UIC, Green Bay, Loyola, Wright State, Butler and Youngstown State round out the polling.
A Trio of Seniors: The 2007 Crusaders feature three seniors: setter Sara Hughes, outside hitter Tiffany Meikle and right side hitter Nicole Schulz. All three seniors were members of the team’s starting lineup last year and look to be again this year. This senior class has gone 79-25 in their first three years and have made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Malicoat Moving Up: Junior libero Brittany Malicoat continues to move up Valpo’s all-time digs chart. Posting 57 digs over two matches last weekend, Malicoat moved into fifth with 1,447 career digs, just 29 shy of the fourth position. She earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week honors, her second of the season, for her effort last weekend. Malicoat tallied 33 digs against Butler, third-most in a four-game match all-time at Valpo, and followed with 24 digs against Wright State. She currently leads the Horizon League with 5.74 digs/game, a mark which ranks 22nd nationally, and has stepped it up in league play, averaging 6.15 digs/game. So far this season, she has registered 499 digs, the fifth-most in a single season in Valpo history with at least eight matches to play. Also a threat from the service line, Malicoat moved past the 100-ace milestone last weekend and now has 103 career aces, just five shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten in the category. She ranks second in the HL this season with 0.39 aces/game.
Porché the Terminator: Sophomore outside hitter Angie Porché continued her outstanding play for the Crusaders last weekend. The sophomore tallied 26 kills, her second-highest total of the season, on an impressive .373 hitting percentage in Valpo’s win over Butler on Friday. Porché followed with 19 kills Saturday against Wright State. She currently leads the Horizon League and ranks 31st nationally with 4.69 kills/game, and has increased that total to 4.93 kills/game in league play. Porché also has paced the HL this year from the service line, averaging 0.42 aces/game. She also continues to rack up the double-doubles, picking up 14 digs in the win over Butler for her ninth double-double of the season.
Bollenbacher Also a Threat: Sophomore outside hitter Val Bollenbacher has seen an increased role in the Crusader offense in the absence of Nicole Schulz and Allison Sears, and has stepped up to the challenge. Bollenbacher ranks eighth in the Horizon League with 3.24 kills/game and has increased that mark to 3.54 kills/game in league games. Last weekend, she posted 17 kills against Butler and followed with 22 versus Wright State, tied for second-most in a three-game match all-time at Valpo. Bollenbacher has reached double figures in kills in 11 of her last 13 matches after tallying that many kills just twice in her first nine matches of the season.
Wise Sets Career High: Sophomore defensive specialist Haley Wise was a big part of Valpo’s season-best dig total Friday against Butler, registering a career-best 19 digs in the victory. It was the fourth time this season Wise has posted double-figure digs, all occurring within the last nine matches.