This Week’s Action: Valparaiso enters the week on a seven-match winning streak, its longest since the 2005 campaign, and has three opportunities to extend its run this week, all in the Second City. The Crusaders will step out of Horizon League action to take on DePaul on Tuesday before facing Loyola and UIC this weekend.
Wrapping Up Last Week: The Crusaders earned a pair of sweeps on the road in Horizon League play last weekend, downing Youngstown State on Friday (25-18, 25-20, 25-17) and Cleveland State on Saturday (25-23, 25-22, 25-23). Angie Porché led all players with 14 kills in both matches, while Brittany Malicoat tallied 35 digs on the weekend.
The Matchups: DePaul leads the all-time series with the Crusaders, 17-11, but Valpo is 5-0 against the Blue Demons under Carin Avery, including a sweep (30-15, 30-22, 30-16) on Sept. 15, 2007 in Bowling Green, Ohio. Allison Sears led the Crusaders in that match with 13 kills on .579 hitting.
The Crusaders trail the series with Loyola, 24-8, but have won the last five meetings over the past four seasons, including a 3-1 (26-28, 25-11, 25-21, 25-17) win at the ARC on Oct. 12. Porché paced the offensive attack with an impressive showing, putting down 20 kills on .425 hitting and adding 13 digs for a double-double. Bollenbacher put together her second straight solid match both offensively and defensively, registering 17 terminations and 11 digs.
Valpo’s most-common opponent all-time, UIC has won 21 of the previous 35 meetings and won at the ARC on Oct. 11, 3-2 (18-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-25, 19-17). Valpo was led by Brittany Malicoat, who paced five players in double figures with a season-best 32 digs.
Following the Crusaders: Tuesday’s match will be broadcast on www.sportsjuice.com. Links to live audio for the meeting with DePaul, as well as live stats for Tuesday and Friday matches will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
Racking Up the Wins: With its two wins last weekend, the Crusaders extended their winning streak to seven straight matches and have won 11 of their last 12. The seven straight wins marks Valpo’s best streak since 2005, when the Crusaders captured seven consecutive matches from Sept. 2-Sept. 10.
No Chance for Opponents: Valpo has taken its wins to another level over the past couple weeks. Since dropping the first set to Milwaukee on Oct. 24, the Crusaders have won 12 consecutive sets, including sweeps in each of their last three matches.
Taking Aim at 20x7: With two more wins this week, Valparaiso would reach 20 wins for the seventh straight season, all under Carin Avery. The Crusaders are one of just 19 programs to win 20 matches in each of the last six years.
The Nation’s Best: Valparaiso maintained its position for the third straight week atop the nation in kills/set last week and for the second straight week in assists/set. The Crusaders are currently averaging 15.19 kills and 14.12 assists/set, ahead of schools such as Cal, Penn State, Hawai’i and Michigan in the top-ten in both categories.
Offensive Dominance: When a team is ranked atop the nation as Valpo is in kills/set, it’s probably out-killing its opponent on most occasions, and this holds true for the Crusaders, who have posted less kills than their opponent just once this year (Indiana). Valpo has registered at least ten more kills than its opposition in 17 of its 24 matches and has tallied at least 20 more kills nine times.
Picking it Up on the Road: For the Crusaders, road losses are a distant memory. After starting the season 1-5 on the road, Valpo has swept each of its last four road matches and has not dropped even a set on the road since a Sept. 27 loss at Milwaukee.
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
Earning League Honors: Junior setter Kim Bukowski was named the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week for the second time on the season after handing out 76 assists over Valpo’s two sweeps last week. Bukowski became just the seventh player in Crusader history to reach 2,000 career assists in the win over the Vikings. On the year, the Waukesha, Wis. native leads the Horizon League and ranks 16th in the nation with 11.19 assists/set and has quarterbacked the Crusader offense to the nation’s top spot in both kills and assists per set.
Record-Breaker Awaits: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché 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. With 28 kills last week, Porché increased her career kill total to 1,487 career kills, just 18 kills away from breaking Lori Barton’s Valpo record in the category. The junior currently is sixth nationally with an average of 4.65 kills/set, leading the Horizon League by better than a full kill per frame. She also is just nine kills shy of Valpo’s single-season top-10 in the category with at least seven matches remaining for the Crusaders.
A Steady Presence: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat once again led all players in digs in both matches last weekend for the Crusaders, racking up 18 against Youngstown State and 17 in the sweep over Cleveland State. With the 35 digs on the week, Malicoat increased her career total to 2,186. She sits second in the Horizon League and eighth in the nation with an average of 5.47 digs/set, and has now picked up at least ten digs in 75 consecutive matches. Malicoat is also just two digs shy of 500 on the season and is already sixth on Valpo’s single-season digs chart.
Sears Swings Away: Senior middle hitter Allison Sears has been a huge part of the Crusaders’ recent winning streak. During Valpo’s last seven matches, Sears is averaging an even 4.00 kills/set while hitting at a .366 clip. On the year, Sears ranks fourth in the Horizon League with 3.23 kills/set. The senior also moved onto Valpo’s all-time top-ten in blocks last weekend and now has 229 career rejections.