*Valparaiso at Loyola - Friday, Nov. 9 - 7 p.m.
*Valparaiso at UIC - Saturday, Nov. 10 - 4 p.m.
The Matchups: Valparaiso closes out its first season of Horizon League play this weekend, making trips up to Chicago on Friday and Saturday to face Loyola and UIC, respectively. The Crusaders defeated both Second City foes in their first meetings this season, improving their all-time series record to 6-24 against the Ramblers and 13-20 versus the Flames.
Last Meetings: Valparaiso swept Loyola (30-24, 30-22, 30-28) Sept. 22 at the ARC. The Crusaders got 16 kills from Angie Porché and a career-best 15 terminations from right side Jill Meyer, while freshman middle Katie Layman, making her first career start, led all players with six blocks.
The Crusaders kicked off Horizon League play in style, taking a hard-fought 3-2 (30-24, 22-30, 25-30, 30-22, 15-7) victory against UIC at the ARC on Sept. 21. Nicole Schulz smashed Valpo’s five-game hitting percentage record in the winning effort, tallying 17 kills on just 23 attacks with no errors, good for a .739 clip. Porché led all players with 21 kills and tallied a double-double with 14 digs.
Last Week: Valparaiso dropped matches at Youngstown State, 3-2, and at Cleveland State, 3-1, to fall to fourth place in the Horizon League standings. Angie Porché tallied 34 kills over the two matches, while Val Bollenbacher combined for 31 kills. Brittany Malicoat registered 43 digs, becoming the Horizon League single-season record holder in the category.
On The Air: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will not broadcast either of this weekends’ matches over its airwaves. Valparaiso’s campus radio station is planning on broadcasting most 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.
Championship Positioning: The Crusaders enter the weekend in fourth place in the league standings, two games back of third-place Wright State. While Valpo can finish the season in a tie for third place with the Raiders, Wright State would earn the third seed for the Horizon League Championships due to going 1-1 versus Cleveland State. The most likely scenario is the Crusaders playing in the 4/5 match versus either Butler or UIC.
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 15.93/game, trailing only Milwaukee, pace League teams with 15.05 assists/game and sit a close third in hitting percentage at .212. Nationally, the Crusaders rank 31st in assists/game.
Digging Trenches: 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 111th nationally with 16.92 digs/game. Through 27 matches, the Crusaders have out-dug their opponents 25 times, with the only exceptions being the match at League foe Milwaukee and last Saturday’s match at Cleveland State.
Aces Wild: With at least four matches remaining in 2007, this year’s Crusaders already rank sixth in a single season in Valpo history with 209 service aces. The 2007 squad has also registered the most aces by any Avery-coached squad at Valpo, surpassing the 200 aces set by the 2003 team. Valpo leads the HL and ranks 38th nationally with 2.01 aces/game and currently boasts the top two individuals in the League in the category.
Avery Approaching Milestone: Crusader head coach Carin Avery is just two 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 43 digs over two matches last weekend, Malicoat now has 1,547 career digs, second-most in Crusader volleyball history. Late in game three in Valpo’s match at Youngstown State, Malicoat broke the Horizon League single-season digs record, and currently has 599 digs on the season, third-most in a single seaosn in Valpo history. She ended up with 31 digs against the Penguins and followed with 14 more against Cleveland State. Malicoat currently leads the Horizon League with 5.76 digs/game, a mark which ranks 23rd nationally, and has stepped it up in league play, averaging 6.07 digs/game. Also a threat from the service line, Malicoat leads the Horizon League with 0.40 aces/game, and moved into Valpo’s all-time top 10 in the category last weekend, where she currently ranks tenth with 111 aces.
Porché the Terminator: Sophomore outside hitter Angie Porché continued to stand out for the Crusaders last weekend. The sophomore picked up a team-best 20 kills against Youngstown State and followed with 14 kills versus Cleveland State. Porché continues to pace the Horizon League in kills/game (4.61) and ranks second among all league players in aces/game (0.39), and has stepped up in league play with a conference-best 4.72 kills/game. Her overall kills average is good for 41st nationally.
Schulz Comes Back: Senior right side hitter Nicole Schulz continues to make an impact on the Crusader lineup after returning from injury. Schulz posted 15 kills on .250 hitting against Youngstown State and added five blocks against the Penguins. She has now reached double figures in kills in five of her last six times on the court for the Crusaders and is hitting at a .301 clip on the season, the second straight year she has hit above .300.
Newton on the Block: Freshman middle hitter Tara Newton stepped up at the net for the Crusaders last weekend, recording the two best blocking performances of her young career. Newton kicked off the weekend with six rejections against Youngstown State, and followed with eight blocks, including three of the solo variety, versus Cleveland State. She currently paces the Crusaders with 66 blocks on the season, including 11 solos.