This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso will look to bounce back from its loss at Butler as the Crusaders enter the second weekend of league play, traveling to Wisconsin to take on Green Bay Friday and Milwaukee Saturday.
Wrapping Up Last Weekend: The Crusaders looked poised to take the opening set at Butler last Friday, leading 20-15, but the Bulldogs rallied to take the opener and went on to sweep Valpo (25-23, 25-21, 25-21). Angie Porché led the Crusaders with 13 kills, but was the only Valpo player to reach double figures in the category. Kim Bukowski added five kills without an error and also handed out 22 assists on the night. Defensively, Brittany Malicoat posted a match-best 21 digs.
The Matchups: The Crusaders hold an 11-6 advantage in the all-time series against Green Bay, and took both meetings last year in Valpo’s first season of Horizon League play, most recently sweeping the Phoenix (30-15, 30-28, 30-22) at the ARC on October 27, 2007. Angie Porché posted 18 kills while hitting at a .471 clip and added 13 digs as well. Nicole Schulz chipped in 11 kills, and Brittany Malicoat contributed a match-high 25 digs.
Valpo evened the all-time series with Milwaukee at 10-10 with a 3-1 (30-25, 30-17, 22-30, 30-26) victory on the Panthers’ home court in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship on November 17, 2007. Tiffany Meikle posted season-highs of 13 kills and 20 digs while hitting .343 for the match, and Jill Meyer also stood out, hitting .407 with 13 kills. Porché led the way with 19 terminations, and Val Bollenbacher added 17 to round out the four Crusaders in double figures in the category. Malicoat led all players with 28 digs, while Katie Layman posted a career-best eight blocks at the net.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will be broadcasting Friday’s match against the Phoenix live over its airwaves, while Saturday’s contest at Milwaukee will be carried on www.sportsjuice.com. Links to live statistics and audio will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, while there will also be a link to a live video feed for the Green Bay match.
Among the Best: Valparaiso enters the second week of Horizon League action ranked 44th in the nation in RKPI, a simulation of the NCAA’s RPI ranking system produced by RichKern.com. The Crusaders moved up two spots from their 46th-place rankings last week, and are currently the second highest-ranked team behind Rice in the Midwest Region, which encompasses Conference USA, the Ohio Valley Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference in addition to the Horizon League. Valpo is one of three HL schools currently in the top-100, joined by Butler (76) and Milwaukee (94).
How Will They Respond?: If it looks odd to see a 0 in the wins column for the Crusaders after the start of league play, that is because it is a rarity. This year marks the first time in Carin Avery’s tenure that Valpo has dropped its first league match of the season.
Early Success: Coming into the 2008 season, the Crusaders knew they had a challenging pre-league slate ahead of them. Five teams that finished in the top-100 of the RPI in 2007 and two others which won at least 20 matches were on the schedule. But this year’s squad stepped up to the challenge, posting a 7-2 record in pre-league action, the best mark percentage-wise prior to the start of league play in Carin Avery’s seven years.
License to Kill: Carin Avery’s teams have registered the top four seasons in total kills in Valpo volleyball history, and this season’s team looks to be continuing the trend. The Crusaders are averaging 14.77 kills/set through three weekends of play, good for third nationally behind just Hawai’i and Penn State. Valpo also ranks sixth nationally in assists/set.
A Big Victory: Louisville entered the adidas Classic listed fifth among teams also receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll, the second-highest ranked team to be downed by the Crusaders under Carin Avery. When Valpo defeated Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2004, the Irish were the first team also receiving votes in the AVCA’s weekly poll.
Tabbed Second: Valparaiso has been projected to finish second in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches. Cleveland State, last year’s tournament champion, was a unanimous selection to capture the league crown. Following the Crusaders were Milwaukee, UIC, and Butler. Youngstown State was placed sixth, while Wright State, Loyola and Green Bay rounded out the polling.
Know Your Rules: The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee and the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a number of rule changes prior to the 2008 season. The most visible of the rule changes will be the following:
- The term “game” will be changed to “set”
- Sets one through four will now be contested to 25 (previously 30) points
- The maximum number of substiutions will now be 12 (previously 15) per set
Rewriting the Record Books: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat, the 2007 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, is poised to break Valpo’s career digs record this weekend, barring injury or other unforseen circumstance. Malicoat will match Sara Silcox’s mark of 1,887 digs with her 14th dig of the weekend and will break it with her 15th dig. Here is a look back at other milestone digs by Mailcoat:
#1 - 8/27/05 vs. Central Michigan, game three
#500 - 9/16/06 at Western Carolina, game one
#1,000 - 8/31/07 at Buffalo, game three
#1,500 - 10/27/07 Green Bay, game three
#1,600 - 11/10/07 at UIC, game four
#1,700 - 8/29/08 vs. Nevada, set three
#1,800 - 9/12/08 vs. Tennessee Tech, set two
2006 #603 - 11/17/06 vs. Western Illinois, game four
-breaks Valpo’s previous single-season record of 602
2007 #580 - 11/2/07 at Youngstown State, game three
-breaks previous Horizon League single-season mark of 579
2007 #676 - 11/16/07 vs. Butler, game three
-breaks own single-season Valpo record set in 2006
Racking Up the Kills: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché, who earned Honorable Mention All-American honors last season, continues to be one of the nation’s leaders at ending rallies. With 13 kills against Butler on Friday, Porché’s average kills/set went down slightly to 4.72, which is still by far the best in the Horizon League and good for fifth nationally. The junior is currently averaging more kills/set than she did last season, despite set length being shortened to 25 in the offseason, and is on pace to break Valpo’s career kills record in just her third season with the club.
Back on Track: Senior middle hitter Allison Sears is facing Horizon League opponents for the first time this year after suffering a season-ending injury during pre-league play in 2007. Sears currently leads the Crusaders in hitting percentage (.238) and is second on the squad, averaging three kills/set, good for seventh in the league. Sears also now has enough swings to qualify for Valpo’s career hitting percentage chart, where she sits ninth, hitting at a .240 career clip.