Valparaiso (19-13, 9-7 Horizon)
at Horizon League Championship - Milwaukee, Wis.
Friday, Nov. 18 - 4:30 p.m. - vs. UIC (14-14, 7-9)
Saturday, Nov. 19 - TBA - Semifinal
Sunday, Nov. 20 - 1 p.m. - Final
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team heads to the 2011 Horizon League Championship as the fourth seed. The Crusaders open play in a quarterfinal against fifth-seeded UIC on Friday afternoon, and will have to win three matches in as many days to capture the tournament crown.
Wrapup of Last Week: Valparaiso closed out a six-match road trip with a mid-week matchup against Chicago State, downing the Cougars in four sets. The Crusaders then finished up the home slate for the 2011 season against regular season championship Milwaukee, falling in four sets.
Top Performers: 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
Milwaukee - Britton 14 kills, Vanden Berg 11 kills, .320; Pokorny 39 assists, 16 digs, 8 kills, .304; Hobbs 7 kills, .357, 4 blocks; Root 25 digs; Hauch 21 digs, 5 blocks; Dooms 17 digs; Cudney 12 digs
Following the Crusaders: Live video of all the Crusaders’ matches at the Horizon League Championship will be available on the Horizon League Network, with live audio also available locally on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso for Friday’s match only. 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 240-94 (.719) in her nine-plus years at Valpo and owns a 295-118 (.714) 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: UIC - 21-21 overall; 12-2 under Avery; 2-0 this year (3-0 Valpo @ Valpo Sept. 14; 3-0 Valpo @ UIC Oct. 14)
Milwaukee - 13-17 overall; 4-9 under Avery; 0-2 this year (3-2 UWM @ UWM Oct. 5; 3-1 UWM @ Valpo Nov. 11)
Cleveland State - 15-11 overall; 4-9 under Avery; 0-2 this year (3-2 CSU @ Valpo Oct. 8; 3-1 CSU @ CSU Nov. 5)
Butler - 9-27 overall; 7-6 under Avery; 1-1 this year (3-0 Valpo @ Valpo Sept. 30; 3-1 Butler @ Butler Oct. 28)
Green Bay - 18-9 overall; 9-3 under Avery; 0-2 this year (3-0 GB @ GB Sept. 23; 3-2 GB @ Valpo Oct. 22)
The Tournament Setup: Valpo opens tournament play against UIC in Friday’s first quarterfinal, but will have to wait until after the second match of the night to find out who it faces in semifinal play with a victory. If third-seeded Butler wins its quarterfinal, the Crusaders would take on host and top-seeded Milwaukee in Saturday’s first semifinal. If sixth-seeded Green Bay pulls the upset against the Bulldogs, Valpo would face second-seeded Cleveland State in the second semifinal on Saturday afternoon.
Nine Straight 20-Win Seasons: With a quarterfinal victory over UIC, the Crusaders would continue the program’s tremendous streak of success, as Valpo enters the Horizon League Championship with 19 victories. 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.
Third Time the Charm?: If it seems like this weekend’s Horizon League Championship scenario is familiar, that’s because it is the third time in Valpo’s five years as a league member that the Crusaders have entered the tournament as the fourth seed at Milwaukee. Both the previous times that Valpo has been the fourth seed (2007 and 2010), the Crusaders have swept their quarterfinal matchup and then upset the host Panthers in the semifinal. But both times, Valpo fell one victory shy of the tournament title, dropping the title match to the second seed both years.
Postseason Honorees: Junior Taylor Root was named the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight year, highlighting Valpo’s three All-League honorees. Root is just the third player to earn multiple Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Horizon League, and was named to the All-Horizon League team for the third time. Senior Jenny Pokorny also was a repeat member of the All-Horizon League squad, while freshman Morgan Beil was the only rookie on the All-Horizon League team and also earned a spot on the league’s All-Newcomer team.
A New League Record: Root accomplished a tremendous feat last week, as near the end of the Crusaders’ contest Tuesday at Chicago State, the junior picked up the 1,930th dig of her Valpo career, breaking the previous Horizon League career record of 1,929 held by Milwaukee’s Lauren Felsing while still having over a full season left to play. Interestingly enough, while Root now holds the league’s career record, she is still over 300 digs shy of Valpo’s career record, as Crusader record holder Brittany Malicoat played two years apiece in the Horizon League and the Mid-Continent Conference.
Players of the Week: Root set another new Horizon League record as the regular season concluded this past week with her eighth career weekly Defensive Player of the Week honor. Root, who surpassed the league’s career digs record in the final week of regular season play, earned three total weekly awards this year to increase her career total to eight, breaking a three-way tie at seven with Beth Greulich (CSU) and Kerri Schuh (UWM) for the most in league history. Freshman Morgan Beil also was honored by the Horizon League this season, picking up Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 19.
Sweeps Still Going Their Way: The Crusaders’ run of success in sweeps continued Nov. 4 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 came in sweeps, with only a four-set win over Butler on Oct. 1 serving as the outlier. But over that same stretch, the Crusaders are just 2-8 in matches that go beyond three sets.
Spreading the Kills: The Crusaders have featured a balanced offense all season long, with a number of players sharing the attacking load. Sarah Dooms currently holds team-high honors with 242 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 (1,503) among the nine league schools. Morgan Beil has tallied 240 kills on the year, Katie Britton 216 kills and Ellen Vanden Berg an even 200 terminations.
Pokorny Hands Out Assists: Senior Jenny Pokorny earned her second straight All-League honor this year, becoming the fifth Crusader in Valpo’s five years as a Horizon League member to earn a spot on the All-League team in multiple seasons. The senior has registered 1,120 assists to date this year, pushing her career total to 2,852 assists, which ranks fifth all-time at Valpo. Pokorny also ranks among the Crusaders’ top players in a number of other categories, as she is tied for second on the team in digs (345) and is third in blocks (60) and aces (22). She also is a threat on the attack, posting 137 kills on the season, over 40 more than any of the league’s other primary setters.
Rookie Receives Honors: Beil is the first freshman to make the All-League team since Root earned a spot on the 14-member squad as a rookie in 2009. The freshman middle, who is the only newcomer on the All-League squad this year, has proven to be a force on both sides of the ball this season. Beil ranks fifth in the league with a .291 hitting percentage, on pace to finish fourth in a single season in the category in Valpo history. She also has tallied 240 kills, second-most among Crusaders, and has paced Valpo in Horizon League play with 128 kills on .296 hitting. Defensively, Beil ranks among the top-10 in the league with 92 blocks on the year.