Valparaiso improved to 24-6 on the season as a number of reserves got a chance to shine Tuesday evening in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-6, 25-13) sweep of Chicago State in Chicago, Ill.
“It was nice to get a chance to relax tonight and take a step away from the grind of league play,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We got a chance to play some different players tonight and play some people in different positions, but now we have to focus as we prepare for our final regular season league game with the conference tournament right around the corner.”
Junior right side Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North) played all the way around the rotation for the first time this season and had a stellar all-around match, setting a new career high with four service aces to go along with seven digs and seven kills on .583 hitting. Freshman middle hitter Janelle Hobbs (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) also stood out Tuesday, racking up career highs with five blocks and seven kills while hitting at a .385 clip.
Freshman defensive specialist Ariel Cudney (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) donned the libero jersey for the first time in her career and matched her season-high with five service aces to increase her league-leading total to 41, while also picking up six digs. Fellow freshman DSes Casey Phillips (Dyer, Ind./Lake Central) and Sarah Chrabaszcz (Reedsburg, Wis./Reedsburg Area) tallied five and three digs, respectively, while the latter also registered her first career service ace. Senior defensive specialist Andrea Balsis (Benton Harbor, Mich./Coloma) recorded seven digs while playing just the first two sets.
On the attack, freshman outside hitter Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) contributed six kills, while sophomore outside hitter Mary Dent (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) picked up four kills of her own. Junior setter Jenny Pokorny (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) again did a bit of everything for the Crusaders, hitting .600 with six kills while handing out 18 assists and picking up five digs and four blocks.
The first set was the closest of the evening, as the Cougars actually held the early lead. A pair of aces by Cudney helped give Valpo a 9-6 advantage, but CSU responded with five straight points to take an 11-9 edge. The Crusaders rolled off a 9-0 run, with kills by Hobbs and Pokorny, a block by the duo and an ace by Balsis, along with a number of CSU errors, to claim an 18-11 lead. The Cougars scored the next three points to close within four, but that was as close as they would get, as Valpo eventually ended the opener on a kill by Groesbeck.
The Crusaders scored the first seven points of the second set on Balsis' serve, as Victor picked up three kills and a block during the opening run. Another 5-0 spurt turned a 10-4 lead into a 15-4 advantage, and then later in the frame, leading 17-6, the Crusaders rolled off the final eight points of the set on the serve of Groesbeck. The junior tallied two of her aces during the run, while Dent picked up a pair of kills, including the final point.
The third set outcome was never in doubt either, as a Groesbeck kill started the set and Cudney then served five straight points to give the Crusaders a 6-0 lead. A kill by CSU briefly slowed Valpo's momentum, but after a Cougar attack error, Groesbeck served seven more points in a row as the advantage swelled to 14-1. The Crusaders cruised from there, with an ace by Cudney and a kill by Groesbeck eventually ending the match.
Chicago State (0-31) tallied five blocks on the match, with Alexandra Mason in on three of the rejections. The Cougars' Mazvita Maziveyi approached a double-double with 10 assists and nine digs as well.
Valparaiso (24-6) gets in its final tuneup for the 2010 Horizon League Championship with the finale of the league slate Saturday afternoon at Loyola. First serve is set for 2 p.m., with live video for the match available through www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats and live chat will also be available through the official Crusader website.