Crusaders Close Out Pre-League Slate at Lady Topper Invitational
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weekly Game Notes

Valparaiso vs. Tennessee Tech - Friday, Sept. 12 - 9 a.m. CDT  [Live Stats]  [Audio]
Valparaiso vs. Furman - Friday, Sept. 12 - 4:30 p.m.  [Live Stats]  [Audio]
Valparaiso at WKU - Saturday, Sept. 13 - 1 p.m.  [Live Stats]  [Audio]

This Weekend’s Action: The Crusaders close out the pre-league slate this weekend with a third straight challenging tournament, as they head to Bowling Green, Ky. to take part in the Lady Topper Invitational.  Valpo will take on Tennessee Tech (2-4) and Furman (4-3) in addition to host WKU (6-0).

Wrapping Up Last Weekend: Valparaiso finished second with a 2-1 record at Indiana’s adidas Classic, taking down preseason Big East favorite Louisville, 3-2, and ACC foe Wake Forest, 3-1.  Brittany Malicoat and Angie Porché each earned All-Tournament team accolades for the second straight weekend.

The Matchups:  Valpo and Tennessee Tech have split theit two previous meetings, with the Crusaders taking a 3-0 (15-5, 15-8, 15-6) sweep in the most recent matchup on Sept. 6, 1991 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  Lori Barton hit .481 with 16 kills, 11 digs and three aces to lead the Crusaders, while Kathy Harrison put down 15 kills while hitting at a .433 clip.

The Crusaders have never met Furman on the volleyball court.  In fact, Valpo has only faced one current Southern Conference opponent in volleyball all-time, as the Crusaders swept Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. on Sept. 16, 2006.

WKU has won all three meetings with Valpo all-time, most recently a four-set victory (15-8, 15-4, 9-15, 15-7) at the Athletics-Recreation Center as part of the Popcorn Classic on Sept. 8, 2000.  Tara Thomas led four Lady Toppers with double-figure kill totals with 17 terminations.  Dion Frazier paced the Crusaders with 15 kills, while Heather Hynds added 11 kills on .500 hitting.  Cyndi Norman posted a double-double with 42 assists and ten digs.

Following the Crusaders:  WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will be broadcasting both of Friday’s matches from the Lady Topper Invitational, while Saturday’s match will be carried live on  If you’re not in the Valparaiso area, you can listen live online to all three matches at, which will also have links to live stats for each of the Crusaders’ contests this weekend.

This is How You End a Rally: Valparaiso enters this weekend’s action as one of the nation’s most prolific teams offensively.  The Crusaders have averaged 15.04 kills/set through their first six matches of the year, good for third nationally, trailing only Western Michigan and San Diego.  Valpo also ranks fourth nationally with 13.74 assists/set.

Champions of the Big East?: Valparaiso has made its case for being one of the top teams in the Big East with its success against the league early on in the 2008 campaign.  The Crusaders downed Notre Dame, projected to finish fourth in the Big East, in four sets on the Fighting Irish’s home court on Aug. 31, and followed five days later with a five-set victory over Louisville, which was picked to win the Big East title.  The Crusaders have one more match remaining this season, as Valpo will play at DePaul on Nov. 4.

A Big Victory: Louisville entered last weekend 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.

Delivering First Losses: Valpo’s wins over Notre Dame and Louisville also marked firsts for the coaches on the opposite bench.  Both Notre Dame’s Debbie Brown and Louisville’s Leonid Yelin suffered their first-ever loss to a Horizon League foe at the hands of the Crusaders.  Brown entered the contest against the Crusaders at 24-0 at Notre Dame against HL opponents, while Yelin was 9-0 previously against HL foes.

Elite Company: With their win on Aug. 31, the Crusaders became one of just two teams to earn multiple wins over Notre Dame at the Joyce Center since the start of the 2004 campaign.  Only Nebraska has also won twice on the Irish’s home court during that time span, as the Cornhuskers defeated Notre Dame on back-to-back nights on Sept. 3-4, 2004.

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

Raking in the Honors: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché, who earned Honorable Mention All-American honors last season, has raked in plenty of honors through just two weeks this year.  The junior was named MVP of the Shamrock Invitational and the Horizon League’s Offensive Player of the Week on the season’s first weekend, and this past weekend, was named to the adidas Classic All-Tournament Team and repeated as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week.  Porché, who currently ranks second nationally with 5.13 kills/set, picked up 61 kills and 28 digs last weekend and moved into fifth on Valpo’s all-time kills chart.  Her most impressive showing came in the Crusaders’ win over Wake Forest, against whom she put down 28 kills on .357 hitting, the second-most kills in a four-set match in Valpo history.

Digging Deep: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat, the 2007 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, earned her second straight All-Tournament Team honor of the 2008 campaign this past weekend at the adidas Classic.  Malicoat  registered 52 digs over the tournament’s three matches, leading Valpo in the category in all three contests, and picked up a weekend-high 22 digs in Valpo’s win over Louisville, including eight digs alone in the pivotal fifth set.  The senior now trails Sara Silcox by just 96 digs for the top spot in Valpo’s career record book in the category.

More Production from the Outside: Junior outside hitter Val Bollenbacher made her presence felt in a big way in Valpo’s win over Wake Forest on Saturday.  Bollenbacher tallied season-best totals of 19 kills and 14 digs whille hitting at a .368 clip, registering her third double-double of the 2008 campaign.  She currently is second on the team, posting 2.96 kills/set.

At Her Best Against the Best: Senior middle hitter Allison Sears stepped up in Valpo’s victory over preseason Big East favorite Louisville on Friday.  Sears avoided a Cardinals block which ranked first in the nation last year, getting rejected just once on her 40 swings, and put down 18 kills while hitting at a .325 pace to help the Crusaders to the upset victory.