Valparaiso registered its third consecutive sweep Saturday
morning in action at the Saluki Invitational in Carbondale,
Ill., sweeping Conference USA foe and 2008 NCAA Tournament second round participant
UAB (25-19, 26-24, 25-20) to put the Crusaders in position to claim the
tournament crown later tonight against host Southern
“This is a great win for
our program over a UAB team with a very good volleyball reputation that’s
coming off an NCAA Tournament win last year,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “Beating a team with that resume is a very
good win for us. Though our stats might
not show it, we really did play well today and we kept the pressure on UAB when
we needed to.”
The opening set featured
numerous runs early on, as Valpo registered the first four points of the match
before UAB answered with five straight points of its own. The Crusaders responded with a 5-1 spurt, but
the Blazers came right back with four more points in a row to take the lead back. The teams then traded 4-1 runs to put UAB
ahead 15-14 past the midway point of the set.
But a setter dump by Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West)
sparked a Valpo run that UAB would be unable to answer. The Crusader setter followed with a service
ace, and then set Tara Diebler (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Center) up for
back-to-back kills to force a UAB timeout at 18-15. Out of the stoppage, Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Katie
Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) combined on a block, and
while the Blazers gained a point back with a kill, Valpo responded with
terminations by Britton and Angie Porché
(Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) to take an insurmountable lead.
An early 6-0 run in the
second set, composed of two kills from Amy
Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North) along with terminations by
Diebler and Layman and a Taylor Root (Jenison,
Mich./Jenison) service ace, gave Valpo a six-point lead that it would hold
throughout the entire set. A kill by
Britton set up the Crusaders with five set points at 24-19, but UAB would not
fold, getting a pair of kills and three blocks to force the frame’s first tie
since 1-1. But a service error gave
Valpo a sixth set-point opportunity, and Porché put down an overpass to send
the Crusaders into the in-game break up two sets.
The third set saw the
Blazers overcome an early 5-1 deficit and hold the lead throughout the early
and middle portions of the frame.
Trailing 14-12, Valpo got a kill from Groesbeck, along with a back-row
kill and service ace by Haley Wise (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka), to take the
lead, but UAB responded with three of the next four points to re-earn the
Trailing 17-16, the
Crusader offense came up with big kills when they were needed, as Britton
recorded a pair around another setter dump by Bukowski to put Valpo ahead
19-17. Out of a timeout, a Crusader
error brought UAB back to within one point, but Layman and then Groesbeck
tallied kills, followed by a big rejection by Britton and Layman to force
another UAB timeout. Bukowski came back
with an ace to cap the 4-0 run to put the Crusaders ahead by five, and kills by
Layman and Groesbeck would end the sweep.
Valparaiso dominated UAB (4-5) in the kills category, nearly
doubling the Blazers with a 52-27 advantage.
Britton led the way with 14 kills on .323 hitting, while Porché also
reached double figures with ten terminations.
Bukowski handed out 37 assists to go with eight digs and five kills, in the process moving
into fifth place on Valpo's all-time assists chart.
On the back line, Root
was stellar for the Crusaders, picking up 22 digs while no other player on
either side of the ball reached double figures in the category. Britton was in on all three of Valpo’s blocks
at the net, while Bukowski and Andrea
Balsis (Benton Harbor, Mich./Coloma) each registered a pair of
“We’re excited to put
ourselves in the position to play for the championship at a tough tournament,”
said Avery. “We’re getting better and
better as a team each weekend out, and we’re playing with a lot more confidence
this weekend than we have the first two weekends.”
Valparaiso concludes tournament play Saturday evening at 7
p.m. as the Crusaders take on the host Salukis.
All the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will
also have a link for live stats.