Redshirt sophomore Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) picked up a career-high nine blocks, while sophomore Morgan Beil (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) added eight blocks, but it wasn't enough for Valparaiso on Saturday afternoon, as the Crusaders dropped the finale of the MSU Eagle Challenge to host Morehead State, 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-5). Beil represented Valpo on the All-Tournament Team.
The first set was back-and-forth early on, with Valpo claiming a 12-11 lead approaching the midway point on a block by senior Mary Dent (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben) and junior Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis./Little Chute). But Morehead State dominated the rest of the opener, closing the frame on a 14-2 run, with the Crusaders' only two points coming on a pair of service errors by the Eagles.
The second set looked to be trending in MSU's direction as well, as the Eagles led 21-18 after a 4-1 mini-spurt followed a 17-all tie. But the Crusaders rallied, as a pair of Eagle attack errors, combined with a kill from Beil, tied the set at 21 apiece. Beil then registered another kill as Valpo regained the lead, forcing an MSU timeout. But that wouldn't slow the momentum, as Beil and Victor combined on a block and freshman Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) converted a setter dump to give Valpo three set points. The Crusaders would convert the second on a kill by redshirt sophomore Lindsey Hauch (Coloma, Mich./Coloma) to tie the match at one set apiece.
A big early run by the Crusaders proved to be the difference in the third set, as Valpo jumped out to a 7-2 advantage. Hauch picked up two kills during the opening run, while Victor and junior Sarah Dooms (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) each registered a termination as well. The Crusader lead never fell below three points the rest of the way as Valpo took a 2-1 advantage in the match. But Valpo would be unable to complete the road victory, as Morehead State never trailed in either of the final two sets to earn the win.
Beil was the only Crusader to reach double figures in kills, posting 10 kills on .348 hitting to go with her eight blocks. Hauch hit .320 with nine kills, committing just one attack error, and also tallied 11 digs. Junior Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) paced the back-line effort with 32 digs, while Dooms added 14 digs of her own.
Valparaiso (5-6) closes out pre-league play next weekend at the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind. The Crusaders kick off action against the host Hoosiers on Friday evening, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. CDT. Live stats for the match will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.