Valparaiso (19-12, 9-6 Horizon)
Friday, Nov. 11 - 7 p.m. - Milwaukee (21-4, 14-0)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team closes the Horizon League slate on Friday evening on Senior Night at the ARC against league-leading Milwaukee. The match is the Crusaders’ last before the start of the Horizon League Championship next weekend at Milwaukee.
Wrapup of Last Week: The Crusaders split a pair of league road contests last weekend, sweeping Youngstown State before falling 3-1 to Cleveland State. Valpo then concluded its six-match road trip at Chicago State Tuesday evening, defeating the Cougars by a 3-1 score.
Top Performers: Youngstown State - Britton 10 kills, .429; Pokorny 30 assists, 11 digs; Root 14 digs
Cleveland State - Britton/Dent 10 kills apiece; Pokorny 38 assists, 4 blocks; Root 28 digs; Hauch 10 digs, 6 blocks; Vanden Berg 7 blocks; Beil 4 blocks
Chicago State - Dent 14 kills, 4 blocks; Beil 8 kills, .889; Pokorny 40 assists, 11 digs, 5 blocks; Root 26 digs; Dooms 11 digs; Hobbs 4 blocks
Following the Crusaders: Live video of Friday night’s contest will be available on the Horizon League Network, with the audio available locally on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso. Links to the live video and audio, as well as live stats, 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 240-93 (.721) in her nine-plus years at Valpo and owns a 295-117 (.716) 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: Milwaukee - 13-16 overall (4-8 under Avery); last meeting 3-2 UWM at UWM 10/5/11 [Britton 16 kills; Dooms 14 kills, 22 digs; Vanden Berg 13 kills, .300; Beil 10 kills, 6 blocks; Pokorny 51 assists, 11 digs, 4 blocks; Root 27 digs; Hauch 19 digs; Cudney 12 digs]
Nine Straight 20-Win Seasons: With a pair of regular season matches remaining, plus at least one match at the Horizon League Championship, the Crusaders have a good 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.
Looking For the Three Seed: Valpo still has a shot at earning the third seed for the upcoming Horizon League Championship, to be held at Milwaukee next weekend. The Crusaders would need to defeat Milwaukee and have Butler lose to Wright State to jump to the 3-seed. Otherwise, Valpo will be the 4-seed and take on the 5-seed in quarterfinal action next Friday.
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.
Home Is Where the Wins Are: Valparaiso finally returns back to the ARC after a season-long six-match road trip, and the Crusaders will look towards their home court advantage to help pick up a victory in the Horizon League finale. Valparaiso is currently 8-3 this season at the Athletics-Recreation Center, keeping pace with its all-time winning percentage at the ARC under Carin Avery, which currently stands at .818 (90-20).
A Huge Victory: The Crusaders went to Wright State on Oct. 29 looking to snap a three-match losing streak, and came out with guns a-blazing. Valpo didn’t even have to make one full rotation against the Raiders in the opening set, downing WSU by a 25-4 count in the first frame. In fact, after being tied at 2-all, the Crusaders ended the set on a 23-2 run and actually started the second set with four straight points as well. The four points allowed is the fewest allowed by a Valpo team since the move to rally scoring.
Sweeps Still Going Their Way: The Crusaders’ run of success in sweeps continued last weekend with a three-set victory over Youngstown State. Since Sept. 14, when the Crusaders swept UIC at the ARC to open Horizon League play, 11 of Valpo’s matches have ended in just three sets, with the Crusaders going 10-1 in such contests. In fact, eight of Valpo’s nine Horizon League wins have come in sweeps, with only a four-set win over Butler on Oct. 1 serving as the outlier.
Spreading the Kills: The Crusaders have featured a balanced offense all season long, with a number of players sharing the attacking load. Sarah Dooms and Morgan Beil are tied for team-high honors with 239 total kills, easily the fewest kills by any of the nine team leaders in the Horizon League. Despite this, Valpo still boasts the highest cumulative kill total (1,449) among the nine league schools. Katie Britton boasts 202 kills on the year, while two other Crusaders have at least 160 kills. And with just one match left on the Horizon League slate, Morgan Beil’s 8.5 kills/match leads the Crusaders in league play.
Players of the Week: Junior Taylor Root tied a Horizon League record on Oct. 24 with her seventh career weekly Defensive Player of the Week honor. Root, who set a new career high with 38 digs against Green Bay, 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.
This Year’s Senior Class: The senior class of Katie Britton, Amy Groesbeck and Jenny Pokorny has combined for 93 wins over their four-year careers as Crusaders. Along the way, they helped Valpo to a second-place league finish as sophomores and helped lead the Crusaders to a berth in the Horizon League Championship title match last season.
Root Continues to Move Up: Junior Taylor Root continues to move up Valpo’s digs charts, both the career and single-season variety. After a 14-dig effort in the sweep of Youngstown State, Root tallied 28 digs at Cleveland State to move past Sara Silcox for second place all-time in Crusader history in the category. Root added 26 more digs Tuesday at Chicago State, giving her 1,933 career digs and breaking the previous Horizon League record of 1,929. Root is quickly closing in on Brittany Malicoat’s Valpo career record of 2,309 as well. Meanwhile, the junior now has 593 digs on the season, surpassing her freshman year output and sixth-best in a single season in Crusader history.
Beil Almost Perfect: Freshman Morgan Beil has enjoyed a number of standout performances in the hitting percentage column this season, but was within one swing of perfection Tuesday night at Chicago State. Beil took just nine swings on the night, but terminated the rally on eight of the attempts. The freshman leads the Crusaders with a .307 hitting percentage on the year, a mark which currently ranks third within the Horizon League and would be the third-best single-season percentage in Valpo volleyball history.