Crusaders Close Out Regular Season, Put Ten-Game Winning Streak on the Line
Monday, November 10, 2008

Valparaiso at Chicago State - Friday, November 14 - 8 p.m.  [Live Stats]
*Wright State at Valparaiso - Saturday, November 15 - 4 p.m.  [Live Stats]  [Video]  [Audio]

This Week’s Action: Entering the week tied for the second-longest winning streak in program history with ten consecutive wins, Valparaiso looks to close the regular season on a high note this week, traveling to Chicago State on Friday before hosting Wright State for Senior Day on Saturday.

Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders made three separate trips to Chicago last week and came home each time victorious, defeating DePaul 3-1 (25-18, 28-26, 20-25, 25-22) on Tuesday, Loyola 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-16) on Friday and UIC 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 26-24) on Saturday.  Angie Porché registered a team-high 47 kills on the week, while Jill Meyer hit at a .467 clip over the three matches.

The Matchups: Valpo has dominated the all-time series with Chicago State, the Crusaders’ second most-common opponent in program history, 33-1 and have won all ten meetings with the Cougars under Carin Avery, including a sweep (30-19, 30-19, 30-19) in Chicago on Nov. 10, 2006.  Nicole Schulz led Valpo with 13 kills on just 15 swings for an .867 hitting percentage, the second-best mark in Crusader history, while Kim Bukowski registered a double-double with 44 assists and 12 digs.

Wright State holds a 15-4 advantage in the series with Valpo, but the Crusaders earned a sweep (25-21, 25-17, 25-22) in the most recent matchup in Dayton, Ohio on Oct. 7.  Allison Sears tied for team-high honors with 12 kills while hitting at a .435 clip, while Tara Newton hit .429 with 11 kills.  Brittany Malicoat led all players with 20 digs.

Following the Crusaders:  Friday’s match will not be broadcast by WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso), but Saturday’s regular-season finale will be broadcast, with the audio available at as well.  The official Crusader website will also have links to live statistics for both matches and live video for Saturday’s contest.

20x7: With its win at Loyola on Friday evening, Valparaiso won its 20th match of the season, marking the seventh straight year that the Crusader volleyball program has won at least 20 times, all under head coach Carin Avery.  Valpo had been one of just 19 programs to win 20 matches each of the last six years.

Senior Class: The Crusaders’ three-player senior class of Brittany Malicoat, Jill Meyer and Allison Sears has experienced a great deal of success in their four years at Valparaiso.  The seniors have won at least 20 matches in each of their four seasons and have a cumulative record of 92-38 (.708).  They have advanced to the championship match of the league tournament in each of their first three seasons as well.

Piling Up the Wins: With their three wins last week, the Crusaders extended their winning streak to ten straight matches, tying for the second-longest winning streak in program history.  The 1995 squad won ten straight times from Sept. 29-Oct. 21, while the 2004 team holds the program record with a 14-match winning streak from Sept. 17-Oct. 23.

Straight Sets - Five Straight Times: Valpo has been bulldozing its way through the second half of the Horizon League schedule.  After going just 4-4 in the first half of league play and winning only 18 of 33 sets, the Crusaders have been a perfect 7-0 in the second half.  Even more impressively, Valpo has dropped just two sets in its last seven league matches and has won 18 sets in a row in league play, including sweeps in each of its last five matches.

The Nation’s Best: Valparaiso maintained its position for the fourth straight week atop the nation in kills/set last week and for the third straight week in assists/set.  The Crusaders are currently averaging 15.22 kills and 14.19 assists/set, ahead of schools such as Cal, Penn State, Hawai’i and Michigan in the top-ten in both categories.

Love for the Second City: With their three wins last week, the Crusaders have won 19 consecutive matches within the Chicago city limits.  The last time a Valpo squad lost in the nation’s third-largest city was Oct. 8, 2002 when the Crusaders fell at Loyola.

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 Book: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché broke multiple Crusader career records last week.  On Tuesday at DePaul, Porché registered a kill on the match’s penultimate point to break Valpo’s previous career kills record, and on Saturday at UIC, the junior broke Valpo’s career attacks record with her 27th swing of the match.  Porché has now tallied 1,534 career kills on 3,819 career attempts.  The junior continues to rank among the nation’s leaders in kills/set and has helped propel the Crusaders to the nation’s top spot in kills/set as a team.  The junior currently is fifth nationally with an average of 4.65 kills/set, leading the Horizon League by nearly a full kill per frame.  She also has a total of 470 kills this season alone for the Crusaders, good for sixth in a single year in Valpo history.

Setting the Pace: Junior setter Kim Bukowski continues to rank among the nation’s top setters heading into the final week of regular season play.  Bukowski handed out 134 assists over Valpo’s three matches last week, increasing her season average to 11.41 assists/set, 14th in the country and by far the tops in the Horizon League.  A two-time league Offensive Player of the Week honoree this year, Bukowski has quarterbacked the Crusader offense to the nation’s top spot in both kills and assists per set.  The junior’s season total of 1,152 assists is also just 22 helpers shy of Valpo’s single-season top-10 in the category.

A Streak Comes to An End: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat had picked up at least ten digs in 77 straight matches heading into Saturday’s match at UIC, but without many chances against the Flames, ended the match with just seven digs, snapping the second-longest active streak with double digits in digs.  Malicoat ended the week with 31 digs, increasing her career total to 2,217, among the top-25 career totals in NCAA history.  She also ranks 14th in the nation and second in the Horizon League with 5.24 digs/set, while her total of 529 digs this year is already tied for fifth in a single season in Crusader history.

Sears Swings Away: Senior middle hitter Allison Sears has been a huge part of the Crusaders’ recent winning streak.  During Valpo’s last ten matches, Sears is averaging 3.76 kills/set while hitting at a team-best .341 clip.  On the year, Sears ranks fourth in the Horizon League with 3.23 kills/set.  The senior, who was named the Horizon League female Scholar-Athlete of the week last week, also moved onto Valpo’s all-time top-ten in blocks two weeks ago and now has 237 career rejections.

Meyer Steps Up: Senior right side Jill Meyer was a big part of Valpo’s three victories last week.  Meyer hit at a sizzling .467 clip over the three matches, including 13 kills on .579 hitting against Big East foe DePaul on Tuesday.  She also added seven kills on just 11 swings without an error against Loyola on Friday.  In league action this year, the senior is swinging at a .255 pace, good for seventh in the league.