Valparaiso (3-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Marriott Volley Brawl (Valparaiso, Ind.)
Friday, Sept. 2 - 11:30 a.m. - Murray State (0-3)
7 p.m. - Ball State (3-0)
Saturday, Sept. 3 - 11:30 a.m. - Texas A&M-CC (2-1)
4:30 p.m. - Evansville (4-0)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso hosts an in-season tournament at the ARC this weekend for the first time since 2007, bringing in Ball State, Evansville, Murray State and Texas A&M-CC for the Marriott Volley Brawl. The five-team round-robin tournament features four matches for the Crusaders, who enter the weekend on a three-match winning streak.
Following the Crusaders: All four of Valpo’s matches at the Marriott Volley Brawl will be broadcast live over the airwaves of Valpo’s student radio station, WVUR (95.1 FM), and online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live video streaming of the Crusaders’ matches through the Horizon League Network will be available as well at valpoathletics.com. In addition, live stats will be available for all ten tournament matches.
Head Coach Carin Avery: Carin Avery enters her tenth season at the helm of the Crusader volleyball program having experienced nothing but success at head coach. Avery is 224-82 (.732) in her nine years at Valpo and owns a 279-106 (.725) record overall in 11 years as a head coach. She ranks among the top-20 winningest active coaches in Division I volleyball by winning percentage and is Valpo’s all-time leader in both wins and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Murray State - 1-0 overall; last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ SIU 9/11/09 (Groesbeck 12 kills, .500; Porche 11 kills; Britton 7 kills, .462; Root 17 digs; team hit .374 [46-9-99])
Ball State - 1-7 overall (1-0 under Avery); last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ BSU 9/4/04 (Palash 10 kills, 12 digs; Fox 6 blocks; Mikos 5 blocks; Moulton 5 blocks; Bova 35 assists, 14 digs, 4 blocks; Silcox 18 digs)
Texas A&M-CC - 1-0 overall; last meeting 3-1 Valpo @ Drake 9/4/09 (Britton 16 kills; Porche 14 kills, .393, 12 digs; Groesbeck 12 kills; Bukowski 43 assists; Root 12 digs)
Evansville - 3-10 overall (1-0 under Avery); last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ DePaul 9/2/05 (Mikos 11 kills, .733, 8 blocks; Fox 9 kills; Palash 9 kills, 11 digs; Bova 33 assists, 6 kills; Hammond 13 digs)
Looking Back at 2010: Valparaiso enjoyed another successful season in 2010, finishing the year 27-8 overall and 10-6 in Horizon League play. The Crusaders’ 27 victories matched the second-most in a single season in program history. Valpo advanced to the Horizon League championship match as well, its second appearance in the league title match in its four seasons as a Horizon League member and their sixth title match appearance overall in the last eight years.
Nine Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders’ 27 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 12 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches in each of the last nine years.
Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in a tie for third place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. The Crusaders, who received one first-place vote, were deadlocked with Butler, both just one point behind Cleveland State. Milwaukee was tabbed as the league’s preseason favorite.
Deja VU?: If the Crusaders’ opening weekend of the 2011 season seemed awfully familiar, all you have to do is flip back one year into Valpo’s past. Just like the 2010 season, this year started for Valpo with a loss to a major-conference opponent, followed by three straight wins to close out the first weekend of play. The Crusaders hope the similarities continue, as last year’s squad ran off 11 straight wins following the season-opening defeat.
Defeating the Big East: Valpo’s first victory of the season came over a major-conference opponent as well, as the Crusaders earned a big five-set road win against West Virginia. The win over the Mountaineers means that Valpo has now defeated nine current Big East teams in program history, including all five squads the Crusaders have faced at least three times.
Comeback Squad: Valparaiso had to overcome a two-sets-to-one deficit to defeat West Virginia last Friday night in five sets, the first time Valpo has rallied to win a five-set contest since Sept. 4, 2010 against Eastern Kentucky, when the Crusaders actually came back from down 2-0 for the victory. In fact, it was the first time Valpo has overcome such a deficit on the opponent’s home floor since Sept. 27, 2007 at Wright State.
Already Picking Up Honors: Junior libero Taylor Root picked right up where she left off last season, earning the Horizon League’s first Defensive Player of the Week honor of the 2011 season for her work at the WVU Mountaineer Invitational. The weekly award was Root’s sixth of her career, tying her for second-most in league history with still nearly two full seasons to play. Root was joined by senior setter Jenny Pokorny on the All-Tournament Team as well.
Digging Deep: Root had a typically stellar weekend on the back line for Valpo to open the year. The junior led all players in digs in each of the weekend’s first three matches, tallying 15 against #21 Ohio State and 12 versus Robert Morris. Her high-water mark came in the comeback win over West Virginia, as Root totaled 33 digs in the five-set victory. It marked her fourth career 30+ dig effort, and was just two shy of her career high in the category.
Only Single Digits: But it was the final match of the weekend which was a milestone of sorts for Root, as she only had to pick up nine digs in a sweep of New Hampshire. It was the first time the junior hadn’t reached double digits in a match (when she played the entire way) since Oct. 11, 2009 against UIC, a span of 50 contests. It also marked the first time Root hadn’t paced Valpo in the category (when she played the entire way) since Nov. 7, 2009 versus Loyola, a 41-match streak.
Hauch Steps Right In: While the Crusaders’ dig leader might not be a surprise, who ranks second currently in the category might be. Redshirt freshman Lindsey Hauch, a 6’1” MH/RS, averaged 2.79 digs/set in her first weekend of collegiate action, reaching double figures in three of the four matches. Hauch tallied 14 digs against Ohio State and tied for team-high honors with 11 in the sweep of New Hampshire.
Beil Makes Immediate Impact: Freshman Morgan Beil also debuted for the Crusaders last weekend and made her mark on the court. Beil registered 11 kills and a team-high five blocks in the comeback win over West Virginia, and added a team-high seven kills on .636 hitting in the sweep of Robert Morris. On the weekend, Beil hit .302 while averaging 2.27 kills/set and also tied for the team lead with nine total blocks.
Pokorny Picks Up: Pokorny picked right up where she left off last year as well running the Crusaders’ offense, averaging 8.93 assists/set on her way to All-Tournament accolades. She also chipped in better than a kill per set while hitting at a team-high .317 clip and didn’t commit an attack error in the weekend’s final three matches. The senior also posted 2.64 digs/set in the back row, including a 13-dig effort against West Virginia for a double-double.
Balanced Offensive Attack: Pokorny found herself with a number of options all weekend long offensively, as Valpo posted just four double-digit kill totals in the season’s opening weekend, with a high of 12 from senior Katie Britton against West Virginia. Britton also posted a team-best 10 kills versus Ohio State, while sophomore Sarah Dooms tallied 10 kills on .400 hitting in the sweep of New Hampshire.
Record Book Watch: A couple of Crusaders are looking to move up Valpo’s career charts in the 2011 season. Root now has 1,409 digs following last weekend, moving into sixth all-time in Valpo history. The junior sits just 128 digs shy of the third spot and just 478 out of second. Meanwhile, Pokorny now owns 1,857 career assists, eighth all-time. The senior needs 1,049 assists this season to crack the Crusaders’ top-five in the category.