Valparaiso used late-set
rallies in each of the final two sets Tuesday evening to sweep former Mid-Con
rival IUPUI (25-21, 25-23, 26-24) in Indianapolis, Ind. for the Crusaders’
eighth straight victory.
“We played very
up-and-down throughout the match tonight, but when it got down to the end of
each set, we found ways to get some key defense transition kills to win the big
points,” said Crusader head coach Carin
Avery. “It was another good
defensive night for us in terms of getting digs and keeping the ball off the
ground, an area in which I feel we’re really hitting our stride, and that
really set us up for the transition plays down the stretch in each set.”
The opener saw Valpo get
out to a quick 7-3 lead thanks in large part to three early kills by Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian),
but IUPUI rallied right back with a 6-1 run to take the lead at 9-8. The set would remain tight through the middle
stages, as Valpo held just a one-point advantage at 16-15, but the Crusaders
scored five of the next seven points on a kill and a service ace by Tara Diebler (Indianapolis,
Ind./Franklin Central), a solo block by Angie
Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) and a kill by Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New
Prairie) to push the lead to 21-17.
IUPUI would score the
next three points, however, to force a Crusader timeout at 21-20, but out of
the stoppage, Valpo’s offense stepped to the forefront. Layman registered back-to-back kills to move
the Crusader advantage back up to three points.
Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North)
followed with a termination of her own to give Valpo set point, and the
Crusaders would convert on their second opportunity on an IUPUI service error.
The scoreboard in the
second set rested in the Jaguars’ favor for the most part, as IUPUI used an
early four-point spurt to gain a lead it would hold throughout. While Valpo was able to cut the lead down to
one point on a trio of occasions, the Crusaders still trailed by four points at
21-17. But Diebler registered a kill,
and in a scene reminiscent of Valpo’s fourth-set comeback against Wright State,
stepped back to the service line and reeled off three straight points, two of
which came on Layman kills, to knot up the frame.
Out of an IUPUI timeout,
the Jaguars took advantage of a Valpo attack error and a kill to go back ahead
by two points at 23-21, but that would be the last point the Jaguars won in the
frame. An IUPUI attack error cut the
Crusader deficit to one, and Layman and Porché combined on a rejection at the
net to tie things up at 23. Porché then
flexed her offensive muscles, tallying one termination to give Valpo its first
lead of the frame at 24-23, and then converted with another kill on set point
to send the Crusaders into intermission ahead two sets to none.
The third set was the
very definition of a back-and-forth affair, as it eventually featured 19 ties
and eight lead changes, while neither team would gain more than a two-point
lead at any point in the frame. A kill
and a solo block gave IUPUI a two-point advantage late at 23-21, forcing a
Crusader timeout, but again Valpo would showcase its ability to come from
behind late in sets.
The rally started with a
kill by Britton, but a service error gave IUPUI two chances to send the match
to a fourth set. The Jaguars returned
the favor with a service error of their own, however, and then committed an
attack error that tied the set at 24.
Out of an IUPUI timeout, the Crusaders went back to their top offensive
weapon for the match’s final two points, as Porché picked up kills on both the
match’s penultimate point and the clinching point.
The Valpo attack ended
the sweep extremely balanced Tuesday night.
Britton and Layman led the way for the Crusaders with 12 kills each and
both hit at extremely high clips.
Britton committed no attack errors in her 25 swings to hit .480, while
Layman recorded just two attack errors, swinging .435 for the match. Diebler and Porché added 11 kills apiece,
while Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West)
handed out 42 assists.
“Both Katies had very
good offensive nights for us,” said Avery.
“They both did a great job with their shot selection and really gave
IUPUI some problems.”
The Crusaders won the
battle of the back rows in a big way, out-digging IUPUI Tuesday evening
83-66. Freshman libero Taylor Root (Jenison,
led all players with 22 digs, while Pokorny added 15 digs. Porché registered 12 digs of her own to
record a double-double, while Haley Wise
(Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) tallied 11 digs
as well, surpassing the 500-dig mark for her career in the win.
“Since the inception of
the libero, I feel defensive specialists really have kind of gotten lost in the
shuffle,” said Avery. “They don’t often
get a lot of credit for what they do, since they don’t always pick up big
numbers, but Haley has been a major catalyst for us over the past four years in
terms of transitioning from defense to offense.
Her and Andrea Balsis (Benton Harbor, Mich./Coloma)
have both been key components in our success this season.”
Ashley Johnson led IUPUI
(14-8) with 15 kills on .520 hitting, while Kalyse Reimbold was the only other
Jaguar in double figures with ten terminations.
Monica Suding led all players with five blocks on the night.
Valparaiso (16-6) continues its road trip Friday night
with a huge showdown at Horizon League co-leader Cleveland State. First serve is set for 6 p.m., and all the
action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and seen online on the Horizon
League Network. Links for both the audio and video will be available
through www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a
link for live stats.