Trailing two sets to one and down 22-17 in the fourth frame,
Valparaiso turned the tide of the match quickly,
reeling off seven straight points to spur a 3-2 (21-25, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23,
15-11) victory over Wright
State Friday in the
Crusaders’ home opener at the ARC.
“I’m very proud of the way this team came back tonight,
especially considering how young our lineup is right now,” said Crusader head
coach Carin Avery. “In that fourth set, we got the sideout to
get back to four points and just got into a good rotation for us and kept
building the momentum to come back. Both
Andrea Balsis (Benton
Harbor, Mich./Coloma) and Jenny Pokorny (Geneva,
came up with some huge digs for us at the end of the fourth set, but it was
just a great total team effort to come back and win tonight.”
The Crusaders got back on serve after a Wright State
service error as Tara Diebler (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) stepped
back to the line with Valpo down by four.
Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West)
found Angie Porché (Lynwood,
Ill./Thornton Fractional South) for
back-to-back kills around a Raider timeout, and then set up Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New
Prairie) for a termination to bring the Crusaders within one at 22-21.
Diebler then took over with her serve, registering an ace on
the back line to knot up the frame and force Wright State
to use its second timeout. Out of the
stoppage, the junior again came up with an ace to put the Crusaders ahead
23-22. Porché then registered another
kill to put Valpo in position to send the match to a decisive fifth set, and on
its second opportunity, Layman and Porché combined on a block to complete the
8-1 set-ending run.
The fifth and final set ended up being the most closely
contested of any of the five frames, featuring seven ties and three lead
changes. The two sides were tied at
every point from 1-1 to 7-7 before Diebler came up with a monster kill out of the
middle to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
Three straight Wright State errors gave Valpo a four-point cushion, and
while the Raiders would cut the lead back to two points, kills by Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian),
Diebler and Porché kept WSU at bay, and a Raider attack error would eventually
end the match.
State used an early 5-0
run in the opening set to gain a lead it would hold the entire frame. A quick three-point spurt by the Crusaders in
the middle portion of the set on a kill by Layman, a WSU attack error and a
solo block by Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton,
Ill./North) cut the deficit to one briefly at 17-16, but Wright State responded
out of a timeout with three straight points of its own to take control of the
It was a Valpo 5-0 run that gave it control of the second
set, as with the score at 8-7, the Crusaders got a pair of kills by Porché, as
well as a kill by Diebler, a service ace from Balsis and a WSU error to push
the advantage to six points, a deficit which the Raiders would not be able to
overcome as Valpo cruised to the set victory.
The third set was much like the first, as the Raiders
controlled the majority of the frame and never let the lead slip under three
points in the latter portions of the set.
The fourth set looked to be going Wright State’s way as well as it put
itself in position to win the match, utilizing a big 8-1 run early to go ahead
by seven points at 12-5. The Crusaders
would never let the lead exceed that seven-point margin, however, and while Valpo
was unable to get back any closer than four points, it kept itself within
striking distance until the big run late put the Crusaders over the top.
Valpo got monster performances offensively from both Porché,
who tallied a season-best 23 kills on .375 hitting and also recorded 13 digs
for a double-double, and Diebler, who shattered her previous career best for
kills, registering 19 terminations while swinging at a .389 clip. Diebler also matched her previous career high
for service aces, picking up four.
Bukowski dished out a season-high 60 assists as well.
“Last weekend was a huge momentum boost for Tara, and she really carried that over into tonight,”
said Avery. “Once she got going tonight,
she was just tremendous again.”
Defensively, the Crusaders out-dug Wright State
(8-6, 0-2) by a 79-62 margin, thanks in large part to a pair of 20+ dig efforts
on the back line. Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) led Valpo
in the category for the 13th straight match, posting a match-best 24
digs, while Balsis put up 20 digs, surpassing her previous career high set just
last weekend. Layman led the Crusaders
at the net with five blocks.
Valparaiso (8-5, 2-0) returns to the court Saturday night
as the Crusaders host Cleveland
State at the ARC in
Horizon League action. First serve is
set for 7 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso or seen live
on the Horizon League Network, both of which will have links available at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will also be available through the
official Crusader website.