Valparaiso (10-5, 1-0 Horizon)
Friday, Sept. 23 - 7 p.m. - at Green Bay (3-9, 0-1 Horizon)
Saturday, Sept. 24 - 4 p.m. - at Loyola (3-7, 0-1 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: After starting Horizon League play with a single mid-week match last week, Valparaiso starts a month-long stretch of nothing but league contests this weekend. The Crusaders make the trek up to Green Bay for a Friday night match before stopping at Loyola Saturday afternoon on their way back to Indiana.
Wrapup of Last Week: Valpo opened the Horizon League slate with an easy sweep of UIC on Wednesday evening before heading to Chicago to take part in the DePaul Invitational. The Crusaders swept the host Blue Demons Friday night before falling in a tough five-set match to Kansas, which was receiving votes nationally, on Saturday afternoon. Valpo concluded the tournament with a 3-0 win over San Diego State Saturday evening.
Top Performers: UIC - Beil 12 kills, .688, 3 blocks; Britton 11 kills, .333; Pokorny 35 assists, 11 digs; Dooms 19 digs; Root 18 digs; Hauch 12 digs; Cudney 10 digs
DePaul - Dooms 11 kills, .364; Hobbs 7 kills, .357; Dent 7 kills, .353; Pokorny 34 assists; Cudney 4 aces; Root 15 digs
Kansas - Dooms 14 kills, 14 digs; Beil 13 kills, 5 blocks; Pokorny 39 assists, 17 digs; Root 24 digs; Vanden Berg 5 blocks
San Diego State - Beil/Hobbs 8 kills, .375, 3 blocks apiece; Dooms 8 kills; Pokorny 28 assists; Cudney/Root 12 digs each
Following the Crusaders: Live video streaming of the Crusaders’ match against Loyola on Saturday will be available through the Horizon League Network, with a link available at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats and live chats will be available for both of Valpo’s matches this weekend as well.
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 231-86 (.729) in her nine-plus years at Valpo and owns a 286-110 (.722) record overall in 11-plus 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: Green Bay - 18-7 overall (9-1 under Avery); last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ Milwaukee [HL Quarterfinal] 11/19/10 (Britton 17 kills, .500; Diebler 11 kills; Pokorny 32 assists; Cudney 5 aces [served 11 straight points to close 1st set]; Root 20 digs; Dooms 10 digs)
Loyola - 12-25 overall (9-3 under Avery); last meeting 3-2 Loyola @ Loyola 11/13/10 (Britton 18 kills, .429; Diebler 10 kills, 7 blocks; Pokorny 37 assists, 10 digs, 6 blocks, 4 aces; Root 28 digs; Dooms 11 digs; Balsis 10 digs; Layman 8 blocks)
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.
Strong Start to League Play: In their earliest start ever to league play, the Crusaders easily handled UIC last Wednesday (Sept. 14) in a three-set sweep at the ARC. In her tenth season now, Avery has led Valpo to a victory in the league opener on nine occasions, only failing to do so in 2008. In fact, the 2008 season marks the only time since Valpo joined the Horizon League that it has fallen below .500 in league play, as the Crusaders started that league slate 0-3 and 3-4.
Aces Up: Fans of the service ace got a special treat from Valpo on Friday evening at DePaul in the opening set. 25 times, the Crusaders stepped back to the service line in the first set, and seven of those times, the point ended immediately with a Valpo ace. Fittingly, Ariel Cudney led the way with three straight aces, while Sarah Dooms added a pair of aces. Lindsey Hauch and Taylor Root chipped in one apiece as well. The Crusaders closed the match with nine total aces, tied for fifth-most in a single match by a Valpo squad in the 25-point era.
Beil Picks Up Honor: Freshman Morgan Beil became the second Crusader to earn a weekly award from the Horizon League office this season, picking up Offensive Player of the Week honors after averaging three kills per set on .403 hitting over the four matches last week. Beil’s week was highlighted by a team-best 12 kills in the sweep of UIC on .688 hitting, the best performance by a Horizon League hitter in league-only action so far this season. Previously, junior Taylor Root earned defensive weekly accolades the first week of the season, her sixth career honor from the league office.
By the Way, Last Time That Happened...: Beil’s .688 hitting clip against the Flames was the best single-match performance by a Crusader since the move to 25-point rally scoring prior to the 2008 season. Ironically enough, the last time a Valpo hitter surpassed that mark was also in a Horizon League opener at the ARC against UIC, as Nicole Schulz posted 17 kills on 23 swings without committing an error to hit .739 on Sept. 21, 2007.
All-Tournament Accolades: Beil also picked up her second straight All-Tournament Team honor last weekend at the DePaul Invitational, adding that to her accolade at the Golden Dome Invitational the previous weekend. Root and senior Amy Groesbeck 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.
Root Moves Into Third: Junior Taylor Root continued her march up Valpo’s all-time digs chart last week, moving into third in Crusader history in the category against UIC. Not even halfway through her third season, Root now has 1,604 total digs and is now just 283 digs shy of Sara Silcox in the second spot on the Crusaders’ chart. The junior continues to lead the Horizon League with 5.08 digs/set and has reached double figures in digs in 14 of Valpo’s 15 matches.
Hobbs Helps Out: Sophomore Janelle Hobbs posted solid numbers last week in part-time action, averaging 2.86 kills/set on .341 hitting, as well as 0.86 blocks/set as the Crusaders went 3-1. Her most impressive performance may have come against San Diego State, as the sophomore earned the start on the right side, a position she had never played on the collegiate level. Despite that, Hobbs tied for team-high honors, hitting .375 with eight kills and three blocks in the sweep of the Aztecs.
Doubling Up: A pair of Crusaders have already each tallied at least six double-doubles on the season. Senior setter Jenny Pokorny has posted eight double-doubles, all of the assists/digs variety, while sophomore Sarah Dooms has registered six, all in kills/digs. Dooms has already surpassed her total of five from a season ago, while Pokorny still has a while to go before reaching her total of 16.
A Balanced Offense: On the whole, Valpo’s offense this season has seen an extreme measure of balance. Just twice this season has Valpo’s leading attacker registered more than 12 kills in a contest, as compared to 10 times through the first 15 matches last season. In addition, the Crusaders have had four contests where their leading attacker hasn’t reached even 10 kills, winning on three of those occasions.