Four Matches Await Valpo Volleyball This Week
Monday, September 6, 2010
Four Matches Await Valpo Volleyball This Week
The Crusaders have four matches on the slate this week. (Ray Acevedo)
Valparaiso (6-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Tuesday, Sept. 7 - 6 p.m. CT at Indiana State (5-2, 0-0 MVC)
at Bradley Invitational - Peoria, Ill.
Friday, Sept. 10 - 4 p.m. vs. Presbyterian (2-2, 0-0 Big South)
Saturday, Sept. 11 - 9:30 a.m. vs. Hofstra (2-5, 0-0 CAA)
7 p.m. at Bradley (4-3, 0-0 MVC)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso looks to extend to one of the best starts in program history with four matches this week.  The Crusaders head to Terre Haute to take on Indiana State Tuesday before traveling to play in the Bradley Invitational, facing Presbyterian and Hofstra in addition to the host Braves in search of their third straight tournament title.

Looking Back at Last Week: A trip to North Carolina brought Valparaiso its second in-season tournament championship in as many weekends, as the Crusaders defeated USC Upstate, Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian State to win the Appalachian Invitational.  Tara Diebler was named Tournament MVP, while Taylor Root joined her on the All-Tournament Team and received Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second straight week.

Following the Crusaders: All four matches this week will be broadcast live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at  The official Crusader website will also have links for live stats and live chat for all four matches.

Head Coach Carin Avery: Carin Avery is in her ninth season at the helm of the Crusader volleyball program and has experienced nothing but success as head coach.  Avery is 200-74 (.730) in her eight-plus years at Valpo and owns a 255-98 (.722) record overall in ten-plus years as a head coach.  She ranks among the top-20 winningest active coaches in Division I volleyball and is Valpo’s all-time leader in both wins and winning percentage.

Series Notes: Indiana State - 9-11 overall (4-0 under Avery); last meeting: 3-0 Valpo @ Valpo 10/14/09 (Porché 15 kills, .448; Diebler 13 kills, .600; team hit .369)
Presbyterian - First meeting
Hofstra - 1-0 overall; 3-1 Valpo @ Lexington, Ky. 9/11/04 (Palash 18 kills, 14 digs; Mikos 15 kills, .323, 6 blocks; Novak 15 kills, 15 digs; Silcox 29 digs)
Bradley - 6-7 overall (2-0 under Avery); last meeting: 3-0 Valpo @ Bradley 9/30/08 (Porché 19 kills, .441, Malicoat 27 digs, Bollenbacher 15 kills)

The Opponents:
Indiana State - 5-2; averaging 2.23 bps; senior OH Morgan Dall 3.92 kps, 3.12 dps; junior DS Kiya James 4.65 dps; soph MB Auriel Armstrong 1.00 bps
Presbyterian - 2-2; soph OH Presley Mabrey 3.31 kps; senior OH Lisa Shelley 3.19 kps; senior MB Amanda Kettles 3.00 kps, .291, 0.81 bps
Hofstra - 2-5; soph MB Carolyn Jenkins 3.00 kps, .282, 0.73 bps; fresh OH Nikki Kinnier 2.38 kps; soph L Kylee Maneja 3.85 dps
Bradley - 4-3; fresh MB Amy Angelos 2.45 kps, 0.95 bps; soph OH Madelyn Ervin 2.22 kps; soph DS Allie Gardner 4.15 dps

Looking Back at 2009: Valparaiso enjoyed another successful season in 2009, finishing the year 22-11 overall and 12-4 in Horizon League play.  The Crusaders finished second in the Horizon League regular season standings for the second straight season, marking eight times in the last nine years they have earned a top-two finish in conference play.

Eight Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders’ 22 victories last year helped the program continue a tremendous streak of success.  Valparaiso has won 20 or more matches every year since 2002, Avery’s first at the helm of the Crusader program.  Valpo is one of just 13 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches in each of the last eight years.

Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish third in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll.  Only Milwaukee, last year’s tournament champion, and Cleveland State, last season’s regular season champion, were chosen ahead of the Crusaders.

Back-to-Back Champs: Two weekends into the 2010 season, Valpo has already captured a pair of in-season tournament titles, opening the year with the La Salle Invitational crown before taking the Appalachian Invitational last weekend.  The two in-season tournament titles is more than the Crusaders had won in the last three seasons combined.  It is the third time in Avery’s tenure that Valpo has won tournaments on back-to-back weekends, while this coming weekend will see the Crusaders attempt to win three straight for the first time in program history.

Keep Winning, Keep Reaching Milestones: Avery has already surpassed a pair of milestone numbers this season in the win column.  Valpo’s win over La Salle in the opening weekend was the 250th overall of her coaching career, while the Crusaders’ victory over Appalachian State marked her 200th win at the helm of the Valpo program.

Not Making It Easy: The Crusaders have not had many relaxing matches so far, winning just one of their first seven contests via sweep.  In fact, the sweep was the only time Valpo entered the in-game break up two sets to none, as five times the Crusaders have split the opening two sets with their opponent.  Last weekend saw Eastern Kentucky win each of the first two sets, and Valpo actually had to stave off four EKU match points before earning that victory.

Plenty of Finishers: Valpo’s match Saturday morning against Eastern Kentucky featured a rarity for the Crusader offense, as all five primary attackers reached double figures in kills.  This comes just one weekend after the Crusaders had back-to-back matches where nobody could reach the 10-kill threshold.

Welcome Newbies: The Crusaders have plenty of new faces for fans to put names to in 2010, as a class of eight freshmen enters together for their rookie year.  The eight-person class, the largest Avery has brought in during her time at Valpo, makes up almost half of the 17-player roster, also the largest under Avery.

MVP Honors: With tournament titles generally come the tournament MVP for a member of your team, and that has been true for Valpo through the first two weekends.  Junior outside hitter Katie Britton was the MVP of the La Salle Invitational, while senior middle hitter Tara Diebler earned MVP honors at the Appalachian Invitational.

Root Just Keeps On Digging: Sophomore libero Taylor Root has to clear room for some more hardware after her performance last weekend.  Root was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the Appalachian Invitational, her fourth career All-Tournament honor, before being named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week, her second consecutive weekly honor from the league and fourth of her career.  Root averaged 6.15 digs/set last weekend, surpassing 20 digs in all three matches.  The highlight came in the tournament finale against the host Mountaineers, when Root picked up a career-best 35 digs, most at Valpo in the 25-point era and third-most in a four-set match in Crusader history.

Stepping Up in the Middle: Diebler put together three stellar matches last weekend to earn MVP honors at Appalachian State.  The senior went for 11, 16 and 15 kills while hitting .400, .314, and .379 in the wins over USC Upstate, Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian State, respectively.  But it was on the block where she really made her presence felt, rejecting five attacks in each of the first two matches before tallying seven blocks against the hosts.  Diebler closed the weekend with averages of 3.23 kills/set and 1.31 blocks/set while hitting .357.

Britton Becomes Primary Option: Britton has slid into the role of Valpo’s top attacker in the early portion of this season after playing as the second outside last season.  The junior leads the way so far in 2010 with 3.33 kills/set, including a career-best 24 last weekend against Eastern Kentucky.  She has reached double figures in kills four times in Valpo’s first seven matches as well.

Pokorny Sets the Pace: Junior setter Jenny Pokorny, an All-Tournament honoree in the season’s first weekend at La Salle, has added another dimension to the Crusader offense this year.  Pokorny is averaging 9.46 assists/set, but is also finishing 1.32 kills/set while hitting at a team-best .320 clip.  She also has proven to be solid defensively as well, posting 2.71 digs/set and 0.46 blocks/set.

Ace in the Hole:
Freshman Ariel Cudney played regularly in the back row last weekend after seeing spot action in the first weekend of the season and has proven to be Valpo’s most dangerous server.  Cudney unleashed five service aces on Eastern Kentucky, the most by a Crusader in a single match since 2007, and now has 11 total aces this year in just 66 service attempts.

Record Book Watch: A number of Crusaders are threatening to break into Valpo’s career charts with solid years in 2010.  In their respective senior seasons, Bollenbacher is just 162 kills shy of Valpo’s all-time top-10 in the category, while Diebler is within 16 blocks of the top-10 for all-time rejections.  Also, with a full year as primary setter, Pokorny could move as high as eighth on the assists chart.