Busy Week Awaits Crusader Volleyball
Monday, October 5, 2009
Busy Week Awaits Crusader Volleyball
Valpo will play four league matches in a six-day span this week. (Ray Acevedo)

*Green Bay at Valparaiso - Tuesday, Oct. 6 - 7 p.m.

*Milwaukee at Valparaiso - Wednesday, Oct. 7 - 7 p.m.

*Valparaiso at Loyola - Saturday, Oct. 10 - 4 p.m.

*Valparaiso at UIC - Sunday, Oct. 11 - 4 p.m.

This Week’s Action: The script gets flipped this week for the Valparaiso volleyball team, as following its lightest week of the season, the Crusaders have four Horizon League matches in front of them in a six-day span.  Valpo will host Green Bay and Milwaukee in mid-week action before traveling to Loyola and UIC this weekend.

The Matchups: Valpo (9-6, 3-1) leads the all-time series with Green Bay (5-10, 1-3) by a 13-7 margin and is 4-1 against the Phoenix since joining the Horizon League, including a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18) victory in the league quarterfinal match last year on Nov. 21.  Allison Sears led five Crusaders in double figures in kills with 17, while Brittany Malicoat picked up a team-best 17 digs.

The Crusaders and Milwaukee (5-10, 2-2) have split 22 meetings evenly in the all-time series, while the Panthers are 3-2 against Valpo since the Crusaders joined the league.  Most recently, Valpo downed UWM 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 25-10, 25-21) on Oct. 24, 2008 at the ARC behind 20 kills by Sears.  Angie Porché added 16 kills and a match-high 20 digs.

Valpo is just 9-24 all-time against Loyola (9-9, 2-3), but is undefeated in four meetings against the Ramblers since joining the Horizon, including a sweep (25-18, 25-14, 25-16) in Chicago on Nov. 7, 2008.  The Crusader offense put down 42 kills on .395 hitting, as Kim Bukowski dished out 34 assists running the offense.

UIC (8-10, 3-2) holds a 21-15 edge in the all-time series over Valpo, but the Crusaders are 3-1 in the last two years against the Flames, sweeping UIC (25-17, 25-22, 26-24) most recently on Nov. 8, 2008 in Chicago.  Valpo nearly doubled the Flames in the kills column in that matchup (50-26), with Porché providing a match-high 17 kills.  Bukowski recorded a double-double as well, picking up 45 assists and ten digs.

Previously: Valpo recorded a big sweep in its only match of the week, downing the only remaining undefeated left in league play in Butler (25-21, 25-20, 25-23).  The Crusader offense hit at a .365 clip for the match, led by 16 kills on .400 hitting from Porché.

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.  Both midweek matches will be carried live over the airwaves of WVUR, as well as online at www.valpoathletics.com, but the weekend matches at Loyola/UIC will not be broadcast.  Live video through the Horizon League Network, as well as live stats, will be available for all four matches.

Kills = Wins: It’s a simple concept, in that kills are the most common ways to score points - if you out-kill your opponent, you’re probably going to win the match.  The Crusaders have held true to that so far in 2009, going 9-0 when they outkill their opponent, but 0-6 when they trail in the category.  But when Valpo has held the advantage, it has held it in a big way, as six times the Crusaders have had a double-figure advantage in kills over the opposition.  Valpo enters the week averaging nearly two kills per set more than its opposition, while its average of 13.61 kills/set ranks among the top-50 in the nation.

Home Cooking: Valpo concludes a five-match homestand this Wednesday, which was a welcome sight on the schedule after playing its first 12 matches of the season away from home.  Under Carin Avery, the Crusaders have had tremendous success at the Athletics-Recreation Center, owning a 68-14 (.829) record as she is in her eighth season.  In each of the last seven years, Valpo has won at least seven home matches each season.

Winning in the Windy City: The Crusaders have made a habit out of returning home victorious when traveling to Chicago for volleyball matches.  Valpo went 4-0 in Chicago last season, defeating DePaul, Loyola, UIC and Chicago State within the city limits.  The Crusaders have now won an amazing 19 straight matches in the Second City, dating back to Oct. 8, 2002.

Success in League Play: Valpo is on an impressive run within Horizon League play currently.  Going back to Oct. 3 of last season, the Crusaders have won 14 of their last 16 league matches, including ten 3-0 sweeps of their opposition.  In fact, during that time frame, Valpo has played six Horizon League road matches and has swept all six contests.

Player of the Week: Angie Porché became the first Crusader to earn Horizon League Player of the Week honors this year, receiving Offensive recognition on Sept. 21 for her performance the previous weekend.  It was the third HL weekly honor of the senior’s career, and marks the 13th time a Valpo player has earned weekly accolades in just 30 weeks as a league member.

Spreading Out All-Tournament Accolades: The Crusaders  had a number of players step up on the court over the season’s first four weekends during pre-league play, as five different Valpo athletes earned All-Tournament honors.  Taylor Root earned recognition at both the Campus USA Credit Union Invite and the Hampton Inn Drake Invitational, joined on the latter squad by Katie Britton.  Kim Bukowski and Amy Groesbeck both earned All-Tournament accolades at the Saluki Invitational, while Angie Porché was recognized at the Pitt Blue and Gold Tournament.

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 Leads the Way: Senior outside hitter Angie Porché has now led the Crusaders in kills in five straight matches following her performance against Butler.  In the sweep of the Bulldogs, Porché led all players with 16 kills and hit at a .400 clip, her second-best effort in the hitting percentage column this season.  The senior also picked up 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the year.  On the year, Porché ranks second in the league with 3.39 kills/set and has terminated 40.6% of her attacks, her highest rate in the last three years.  The senior has also continued her solid defensive play, as her 2.31 digs/set are second on the team and she is just 88 digs shy of 1,000 for her career.

Root Picks Up the Digs:
Freshman libero Taylor Root continues to be a rock on the back line for the Crusaders.  Root registered a match-high 16 digs in the sweep of Butler last Friday, the sixth consecutive match that she has paced all players in the category.  The freshman has yet to have a match where she has not reached double figures in the category, and  has also either tied or outright led Valparaiso in digs in all 15 matches this season.  On the year, Root’s average of 4.61 digs/set is second in the Horizon League, and she has increased her production to an even 5.00 digs/set in league play.

Britton Records Key Kills: Sophomore outside hitter Katie Britton picked up a pair of big-time terminations for Valpo Friday night against Butler, as trailing 23-22 in the third set, she registered kills for points number 23 and 24 in the Crusaders’ sweep.  Her final two kills gave Britton ten on the night, her seventh double-figure effort in the category this year.  The sophomore needed just 21 swings to tally her ten kills as well, as her .381 hitting percentage was her third-best single-match effort of the season.  On the year, her 2.67 kills/set are second-most on the team.

Setting the Pace:
Senior Kim Bukowski and sophomore Jenny Pokorny split the setting duties on Friday against Butler, and both had outstanding nights running the offense as the Crusaders hit at a .365 clip for the match.  Bukowski recorded 27 assists, leaving her just 156 shy of 3,000 helpers for her career, and had 46.6% of her sets terminated, the fifth time in the last six matches that at least 40% of the senior’s sets have resulted in kills.  Pokorny registered 21 assists as 51.2% of her sets ended up as kills, her second-best mark of the year, and also recorded five kills of her own on just 11 swings playing as Valpo’s right side hitter when she was up front.

Quickly: Junior middle hitter Tara Diebler set a new season high with seven digs against Butler ... Diebler leads Valpo with a .333 hitting percentage in league play while averaging 3.07 kills/set ... the Crusaders as a team are hitting .266 in Horizon League action, 48 points better than their opposition ... Valpo’s .365 hitting percentage against the Bulldogs was its second-highest single-match performance this year ... sophomore right side Amy Groesbeck hit .500 with nine kills against Butler, the fourth time this year she has hit at least .400 ... the Crusaders have added walk-on freshman Alyssa Updegrave to their roster, a native of Trinity, Fla. who earned two letters at J.W. Mitchell H.S.