The Valparaiso volleyball team saw its season-long eight-match win streak come to an end Friday evening at Cleveland State, as the Crusaders fell 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19) to the Vikings.
The two squads entered Friday night tied atop the Horizon League standings, but the Vikings’ victory puts them at 9-1 in league play, while the Crusaders now sit in second place at 8-2. Valpo now has an uphill battle remaining in its quest to host the league tournament, awarded to the regular season champion, as Cleveland State now holds the first tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the season series.
With the score 8-7 in Cleveland State’s favor early in the first set, the Vikings ran off seven of the next nine points to push their advantage to 15-9. The Crusaders cut the lead to four points at 18-14, but CSU scored each of the next six points to secure the opener. Valpo answered back in the second set, however, coming back from an early 7-3 deficit to take a five-point lead at 19-14. The Vikings rallied back to within 21-20, but back-to-back kills by Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) and Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) gave the Crusaders breathing room to go into intermission tied at a set apiece.
Out of the break, however, the Viking offense took control of the match, as CSU hit .476 and .306 in the final two sets. The Crusaders only trailed by two points midway through the third frame at 14-12, but Cleveland State ripped off six of the next eight points to take control. Valpo kept the fourth set within striking distance even longer, as the Crusaders were within two points at 18-16 until the Vikings went on a 7-3 spurt to end the match.
Porché posted a double-double Friday night with 16 kills and ten digs, but hit just .040 for the match as the Crusader offense overall struggled to a .142 hitting percentage. Freshman Mary Dent (Long Grove, Ill./Von Steuben) had the best offensive match of her young career, putting down nine kills on .381 hitting, while fellow freshman Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) led Valpo on the back line with 17 digs.
Cleveland State (21-5, 9-1 Horizon) was led by 22 kills on .463 hitting by Beth Greulich, while Liz Fazio backed her up with 19 kills while swinging at a .333 clip. Maggie Bonomini led all players with 19 digs, while Megan Barhorst posted a match-high seven blocks.
Valparaiso (16-9, 8-2 Horizon) looks to get back on the winning track Saturday afternoon, taking on Wright State in Dayton at 3 p.m. CDT. The match will be broadcast live on SportsJuice.com, while links for live audio and stats will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.