Valparaiso (7-4, 0-0 Horizon)
Wednesday, Sept. 14 - 7 p.m. - UIC (6-3, 0-0 Horizon)
at DePaul Invitational (Chicago, Ill.)
Friday, Sept. 16 - 7:30 p.m. - at DePaul (3-7)
Saturday, Sept. 17 - 1:30 p.m. - vs. Kansas (7-1)
5 p.m. - vs. San Diego State (4-1)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso gets an early start to Horizon League play with a single mid-week match Wednesday night at home against UIC. The Crusaders then compete in their final in-season tournament of the season, facing Kansas and San Diego State as well as the hosts of the DePaul Invitational.
Wrapup of Last Week: Valpo posted a 1-2 record last weekend against a tough tournament field at Notre Dame’s Golden Dome Invitational. The Crusaders swept Portland Friday afternoon before falling to Lipscomb 3-1 on Saturday afternoon. Valpo concluded tourney play with a 3-0 loss to the host Fighting Irish on Sunday.
Top Performers: Portland - Britton 12 kills, .474; Dooms 10 kills, Vanden Berg 7 kills, .462; Pokorny 37 assists; Root 16 digs; Cudney 10 digs, 4 aces
Lipscomb - Beil 12 kills, .360, 6 blocks; Dooms 11 kills, 11 digs; Pokorny 35 assists, 10 digs; Vanden Berg 6 kills, .400, 5 blocks; Root 16 digs
Notre Dame - Dooms 10 kills, 14 digs; Pokorny 27 assists, 16 digs, 4 blocks; Root 17 digs; Cudney 10 digs; Vanden Berg/Britton 4 blocks apiece
Following the Crusaders: All four of Valpo’s matches this week will be broadcast live over the airwaves of Valpo’s student radio station, WVUR (95.1 FM). Live video streaming of the Crusaders’ match against UIC from the ARC will be available through the Horizon League Network, with a link available at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will be available for all four of Valpo’s matches, as well as live chats for Saturday’s contests.
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 228-85 (.728) in her nine years at Valpo and owns a 283-109 (.722) 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: UIC - 19-21 overall (10-2 under Avery); last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ Valpo 10/23/10 (6 players between 7 and 9 kills; Pokorny 7 kills, .438, 32 assists, 13 digs; Dooms 9 kills, 8 digs, 4 aces; Root 21 digs; Bollenbacher 14 digs; Layman 7 kills, 6 blocks)
DePaul - 12-18 overall (7-0 under Avery); last meeting 3-1 Valpo @ DePaul 11/4/08 (Porche 20 kills, .304, broke Valpo career kills record; Sears 13 kills, .310; Meyer 13 kills, .579; Bukowski 55 assists; Malicoat 14 digs; Wise 13 digs)
Kansas - First meeting
San Diego State - First meeting
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.
Rare Back-to-Back Losses: Valpo’s losses to close the weekend against Lipscomb and Notre Dame were the first back-to-back losses for the Crusader volleyball program since falling to Milwaukee (at the HL Championship) and Western Michigan to close out the 2009 campaign. It also marked the first time the Crusaders lost a pair of matches at the same tournament since the start of the 2009 season, when Valpo lost to Colorado and UNLV at Florida’s Campus USA Credit Union Invitational.
Block Party: Last year’s Crusader squad was the first since 2006 to average better than two blocks per set, and this year’s team has shown even more improvement on their defense at the net. Through three weeks of play, Valpo is averaging a Horizon League-best 2.38 blocks/set and has already posted 26 more blocks over its first 11 matches than their opponents. Two Crusaders are averaging more than a block per frame, while two others are posting at least 0.88 blocks/set.
All-Tournament Accolades: Freshman Morgan Beil earned her first career All-Tournament Team honor last weekend at the Golden Dome Invitationa, becoming the fourth different Valpo player to receive All-Tournament accolades this year. Senior Amy Groesbeck and junior Taylor Root represented Valparaiso on the All-Tournament Team at the Marriott Volley Brawl, while Root was joined by senior Jenny Pokorny on the All-Tournament Team at the WVU Mountaineer Invitational in the season’s first week.
Player of the Week: Root also earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week honors the first week of the season. 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.
Leader of the Block: Freshman Morgan Beil earned her All-Tournament nod this past weekend after totaling 12 blocks over the course of the tournament while also adding 2.40 kills/set on .255 hitting. The rookie stood out in the match against Lipscomb, tallying 12 kills on .360 hitting and posting six blocks, both team highs. On the season, Beil is averaging 1.09 blocks/set, tops among Horizon League athletes, and also ranks second on the team in hitting percentage (.280) and third in kills (2.24/set).
Hitting High Percentages: Sophomore Ellen Vanden Berg had a superb four-match stretch from Sept. 3-10, hitting .465 with 2.57 kills and 1.00 blocks per set over the four matches. Perhaps most remarkable was that in all four contests, Vanden Berg hit at least at a .400 clip, highlighted by .550 hitting on 12 kills against Texas A&M-CC. Vanden Berg currently ranks seventh in the league with a .300 hitting percentage and also ranks eighth in blocks (0.91/set).
Doubling Up: A pair of Crusaders have already each tallied at least five double-doubles on the season, as both posted two apiece last weekend. Senior Jenny Pokorny has posted six double-doubles, all of the assists/digs variety, while sophomore Sarah Dooms has registered five, all in kills/digs. Dooms has already reached her total from a season ago, while Pokorny has a while to go before reaching her total of 16.
Consistency in the Back: Junior Taylor Root easily paced the Golden Dome Invitational field last weekend in the digs category, averaging 4.90 digs/set with efforts of 16, 16 and 17 digs over the three matches. Root’s season average of 5.13 digs/set, while a bit off her NCAA-leading mark from a season ago, is still tops in the Horizon League, nearly a full dig/set ahead of the #2 spot.
Record Book Watch: A couple of Crusaders are looking to move up Valpo’s career charts in the 2011 season. Root now has 1,535 digs following last weekend, surpassing Karen Kulick for fourth-most all-time in Valpo history. The junior sits just two digs shy of Lori Barton in the third spot and just 352 out of second. Meanwhile, Pokorny now owns 2,095 career assists, eighth all-time. The senior needs 1,049 total assists this season to crack the Crusaders’ top-five in the category.