Crusaders Ready to Kick Off Season in Florida
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Crusaders Ready to Kick Off Season in Florida
Val Bollenbacher is one of four seniors on the 2009 Crusader squad. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso at Campus USA Credit Union Invite

vs. Colorado - 4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 28

vs. UNLV - 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29

This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso kicks off the 2009 campaign this weekend in Gainesville, Fla. with a pair of matches at Florida’s Campus USA Credit Union Invite.  The Crusaders will take on Colorado at 4 p.m. CDT on Friday afternoon before facing off against UNLV at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

The Matchups:  Valparaiso has never matched up against Colorado on the volleyball court, and has not played any member of the Big 12 since the 2006 season.  The Crusaders took on a pair of Big 12 foes that year, falling to Missouri (3-1) and Iowa State (3-0).

Valpo also has never taken on UNLV and has played only two matches all-time against current Mountain West member institutions.  The Crusaders fell to Utah (3-0) in 1995 and New Mexico (3-0) in 1988.

A New Destination: This weekend marks the first time in Crusader volleyball history that the Valpo squad has played in the state of Florida.  It marks the 17th different state in head coach Carin Avery’s seven-plus seasons that the Crusaders have played in.

Following the Crusaders:  The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will be broadcasting most of the Crusaders’ volleyball matches this season.  Friday’s match will be carried exclusively online through SportsJuice, while Saturday’s match will be live over the airwaves of WVUR, as well as online at, which will also have links to live stats for both matches.

Looking Back at 2008: 2008 was yet another stellar season in the Crusaders’ reign of excellence.  Valpo won 25 matches last year, making it one of just 15 programs nationwide with at least seven straight 20-win seasons, and put together a late-season 13-match winning streak, the second longest streak in program history.

Leading the Nation:
Valparaiso closed the 2008 campaign as the nation’s best in both kills/set and assists/set, outpacing national champion Penn State in both categories.  It marked the first time in program history the Crusaders led the nation in any statistical category.

Success Against the Major Conferences...: The Crusaders are hoping that last year’s success against major-conference foes carries over into this season.  Valpo went 4-1 against opponents from the BCS conferences, beating Notre Dame, Louisville, DePaul and Wake Forest.

and Against NCAA Tournament Teams: Last year’s Crusader squad played seven matches against eventual NCAA Tournament teams and acquitted itself quite well in those contests, going 5-2.  Valpo defeated Sweet 16-bound Western Michigan, as well as Furman, Louisville, Milwaukee and Tennessee Tech.

AVCA Honors: After senior outside hitter Angie Porché made Crusader history by earning Honorable Mention All-American and All-Midwest Region honors from the AVCA in 2007, Valpo found itself well represented on the AVCA squads last year.  Porché repeated as an All-Region and Honorable Mention All-American honoree, while she was joined on both teams by graduated libero Brittany Malicoat.  Senior setter Kim Bukowski also earned recognition as an Honorable Mention All-Region honoree.

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.  The Crusaders received two of the nine first-place votes en route to tallying 58 points.  Defending league champion Milwaukee received the other seven first-place nods and totaled 63 points, while Cleveland State, Butler, Wright State, Loyola, UIC, Youngstown State and Green Bay rounded out the polling in order.

Porché’s Last Go-Round: Senior outside hitter Angie Porché has seemingly made history every time she has stepped on the court the last three years for Valpo.  The first All-American in program history, she has earned Honorable Mention recognition from the AVCA each of the last two years, as well as receiving All-Region honors.  Porché was named the Horizon League Player of the Year last year after finishing seventh in the nation with 4.61 kills/set and also received multiple accolades off the court, as she was one of ten female finalists for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award and also a CoSIDA Academic All-District V honoree.  Porché enters her senior year already Valpo’s career record holder for kills (1,599) and attacks (3,976), and holds three of the top-five single-season kill totals in Crusader history.

Bukowski Setting The Pace:
Senior setter Kim Bukowski returns for her final season after stepping into the starting role prior to last season and standing out, earning AVCA Honorable Mention All-Region honors to go along with a spot on the Horizon League All-League squad.  Bukowski tallied 11.68 assists/set on the year, leading the league and finishing sixth in the nation in the category.  Her 1,355 total assists on the season rank sixth in a single season in Crusader history, and she enters her final year seventh in Valpo history in career assists with 2,362.

Bollenbacher Stepping Up: Senior outside hitter Val Bollenbacher returns for her final season after having cemented herself as a viable threat on both sides of the ball as a junior.  Bollenbacher finished third on the team last year in both kills/set (2.57) and digs/set (2.66), reaching double figures in kills 15 times and in digs on 19 occasions.  She now has totaled 829 career kills in her first three seasons, leaving herself just 202 terminations shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten in the category.

Wise in the Back: Senior defensive specialist Haley Wise saw the most extensive playing time of her career last season for the Crusaders, appearing in 29 matches for Valpo on the back line.  Wise posted 224 digs on the season and reached double figures in the category on ten occasions.

Meet the Newcomers: Valpo brings in three newcomers this year to join the ten returning players.
   -Sophomore defensive specialist Nicole Meador walked on to the Crusader squad in the spring of 2009.  Meador brings with her a wealth of experience playing with multiple Chicagoland club teams.
   -Freshman outside hitter Mary Dent joins the Crusaders this year after an outstanding high school career at Von Steuben [Ill.] H.S.  A three-time All-Area and First Team All-City honoree, Dent set Von Steuben single-match, single-season and career records for kills, as well as breaking career records for hitting percentage and kill percentage.
   -Freshman libero Taylor Root was named a High School All-American following her senior year, one of just three liberos nationwide so honored.  She guided Jenison [Mich.] H.S. to back-to-back state titles in her final two seasons and was one of ten finalists for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball award.