Valparaiso (16-9, 7-4 Horizon)
Tuesday, Oct. 25 - 6 p.m. CDT - at IUPUI (11-13, 6-7 Summit)
Friday, Oct. 28 - 6 p.m. CDT - at Butler (10-13, 6-5 Horizon)
Saturday, Oct. 29 - 3 p.m. CDT - at Wright St. (3-21, 2-9 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso begins a six-match road trip with a trio of contests this week. The Crusaders make two trips to Indianapolis this week, taking on IUPUI Tuesday and Butler Friday before continuing the league weekend road swing Saturday at Wright State.
Wrapup of Last Week: Valparaiso had mixed results last weekend as it hosted a pair of Horizon League home contests. The Crusaders easily swept Loyola on Friday night, not allowing the Ramblers to score more than 16 points in any set, but then suffered a five-set defeat to Green Bay on Saturday afternoon.
Top Performers: Loyola - Beil 10 kills, .769; Vanden Berg 10 kills, .600, 6 blocks; Pokorny 35 assists, 9 digs; Root 11 digs; Hauch 9 digs, 6 kills, .375
Green Bay - Beil 17 kills, .556, 6 blocks; Hauch 12 kills, 17 digs; Vanden Berg 12 kills; Dent/Hobbs 10 kills each; Pokorny 55 assists, 15 digs; Root 38 digs; Dooms 14 digs; Cudney 10 digs
Following the Crusaders: Both of this weekend’s league matches can be seen live online for free on the Horizon League Network. Audio broadcasts of all three contests this week will also be available locally on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso. Links to the live video and audio, as well as live stats and a live chat for Tuesday’s match, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her tenth season at the helm of the Crusader volleyball program, Carin Avery has experienced nothing but success at head coach. Avery is 237-90 (.725) in her nine-plus years at Valpo and owns a 292-114 (.719) 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: IUPUI - 19-12 overall (14-3 under Avery); last meeting 3-1 Valpo @ Valpo 9/25/10 [Britton 14 kills; Diebler 13 kills, .370, 4 blocks; Groesbeck 10 kills, .360; Pokorny 47 assists, 21 digs; Root 27 digs; Bollenbacher 18 digs; Layman 4 blocks]
Butler - 9-26 overall (7-5 under Avery); last meeting 3-1 Valpo @ Valpo 10/1/11 [Beil 15 kills, .333, 3 aces; Britton/Dooms 9 kills each; Pokorny 44 assists, 19 digs; Hauch/Root 21 digs apiece; Cudney 10 digs]
Wright State - 11-14 overall (8-1 under Avery); last meeting 3-0 Valpo @ Valpo 9/30/11 [Hauch 7 kills, 1.000; Dent 6 kills, .500; Hobbs 6 kills, .545, 4 blocks; Pokorny 31 assists; Cudney 3 aces; Root 11 digs; Dooms 10 digs]
Nine Straight 20-Win Seasons: With at least eight regular season matches remaining, plus any contests as part of the Horizon League Championship and any possible postseason match, the Crusaders have a great shot at continuing the program’s tremendous streak of success. Valpo won 27 matches in 2010, extending to nine straight seasons its streak of posting at least 20 wins. 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.
Sweeps Going Their Way...: Valpo’s sweep of Loyola on Friday continued a trend over the past month-plus for the Crusaders. Since Sept. 14, when the Crusaders swept UIC at the ARC to open Horizon League play, nine of Valpo’s 14 matches have ended in just three sets, with the Crusaders going 8-1 in such contests. In fact, six of Valpo’s seven Horizon League wins have come in sweeps, with only a four-set win over Butler on Oct. 1 serving as the outlier.
...But Not the Five-Setters: The Crusaders have had the opposite luck with matches that have gone the distance so far this year. After earning a five-set win at West Virginia on opening day, Valpo has lost its other four five-set contests, including a 3-2 loss to Green Bay on Saturday. Three of the Crusaders’ four five-set losses have come in Horizon League play.
The Road Untraveled: When the Crusaders depart the ARC for Indianapolis and the Butler-Wright State road swing on Thursday evening, it will be the first time they’ve been on an overnight road trip in over a month. Valpo’s last overnight trip ended after playing at Loyola Sept. 24, and since that time, the Crusaders have played six home matches and taken same-day trips for their three road matches in that stretch.
Spreading the Kills: In their 25th match of the year on Saturday, the Crusaders finally had a player surpass 200 total kills this season, as Sarah Dooms closed the night with 201 total kills. But Valpo ranks a close second in the HL in total kills with 1,155, as the wealth has been spread around, with six different players entering this week with at least 100 kills. In addition, 11 matches into HL play, no Crusader has tallied 100 league kills, with Morgan Beil leading the way there with 97 kills.
Players of the Week: Junior Taylor Root tied a Horizon League record this week with her seventh career weekly Defensive Player of the Week honor. Root, who set a new career high with 38 digs against Green Bay on Saturday, now has earned a pair of weekly awards this year, also earning the honor in the season’s first week. Root’s seven career league weekly accolades tie her with Beth Greulich (CSU) and Kerri Schuh (UWM) for the most in league history. Freshman Morgan Beil has also been honored by the Horizon League this season, picking up Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 19.
Root Sets New Career High: Junior Taylor Root has been a stalwart on the back line ever since stepping on the Valparaiso campus, but never has she had a match like Saturday against Green Bay. Root registered a career-best 38 digs against the Phoenix, tied for second-most in a five-set match in Valpo history. The 38 digs also was just two shy of the Crusader single-match record and was the highest total by a Horizon League athlete this year. Root, who picked up 11 digs Friday against Loyola and was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week, ranks among the top-35 nationally and second in the Horizon League with her average of 5.16 digs/set. With her 49 total digs last week, Root now has 1,799 career digs and is now just 88 digs shy of Sara Silcox for the second spot on the Crusaders’ all-time digs chart.
Beil Defines Efficiency: To have one stellar match that enters the Crusaders’ record book is an impressive feat. To have two in the same weekend, as freshman middle Morgan Beil did last weekend, is an almost unheard-of accomplishment. Beil kicked off the weekend against Loyola by tallying 10 kills on just 13 swings without an error in the sweep, good for a .769 hitting percentage, which ranks fifth in a three-set match in Valpo history. Then on Saturday versus Green Bay, Beil registered a Valpo season-high 17 kills on just 27 swings with only two errors to hit at a .556 clip, the second-best effort in a five-set match all-time by a Crusader. The pair of efficient performances boosted Beil’s overall hitting percentage to .321, fourth-best in the HL, and her HL-only clip to .361, best in the league.
Vanden Berg on the Block: Over Valpo’s last six matches, sophomore middle Ellen Vanden Berg has been stellar defensively at the net, averaging 1.25 blocks/set for the Crusaders. Last week, Vanden Berg posted a match-high six blocks in the sweep of Loyola and also registered three rejections against Green Bay. On the year, the sophomore is averaging an even block per set, fifth-best in the league. Vanden Berg also had a stellar offensive match versus Loyola, tallying 10 kills on just 15 swings, hitting at a .600 clip.
Plenty of Career Highs: While Root set her career high for digs and Beil posted a career-best kill total against Green Bay Saturday, they were far from the only Crusaders to pick up new career highs against the Phoenix, as seven players combined for nine new career bests over the course of the five-set contest. Lindsey Hauch (12k, 30a) and Janelle Hobbs (10k, 29a) set new bests in both kills and attacks versus Green Bay, while Vanden Berg (36a) and Mary Dent (41a) also set career highs for attacks. In addition, Ariel Cudney handed out four assists to set a new career best in that category.