The Valparaiso volleyball program earned the first win over a Big Ten team in program history on Friday evening, storming back from a two-set deficit to defeat Indiana, 3-2 (19-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-12) in its opener at the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind.
“I'm so proud of this team for not giving up tonight,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We asked them to make adjustments and they were able to do so – it was a total team effort tonight. I'm excited for this group, which has been working so hard to get better, and it's fun to get the first-ever Big Ten win for this program.”
The first two sets were marked by the Hoosiers' offensive efficiency, as IU hit .448 and .333 in the first two frames to take the 2-0 lead. Valpo led past the halfway mark of the opener at 14-13 and was still within one point at 16-15, but Indiana scored nine of the set's final 13 points to take the first frame. The Hoosiers then claimed the lead for good in the second set at 11-10 to push out to the 2-0 advantage.
The third set started out in Indiana's favor as well, as the Hoosiers claimed an early 5-1 lead, but a 5-0 run capped by a service ace from freshman Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) gave Valpo an 8-7 lead and set the stage for a frame which would feature 12 ties and five lead changes. Both teams fought for control, not able to get more than a two-point edge, as Indiana led 12-10 before the Crusaders turned the tables and took a 16-14 lead.
Indiana scored the next three points to re-gain the lead, but Valpo quickly re-claimed the advantage off a pair of Hoosier errors, making it 18-17 Crusaders. The teams traded sideouts on the next four points, with Valpo getting kills from sophomore Morgan Beil (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) and redshirt sophomore Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) to hold onto the one-point advantage. A Hoosier error then pushed the Valpo edge to 21-19 and forced a timeout from Indiana.
But the stoppage wouldn't slow the Crusaders, as Victor and junior Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis./Little Chute) combined on a block to make it a three-point lead. Valpo then tallied three straight kills to close out its third set win, as Vanden Berg, junior Sarah Dooms (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) and Berrington posted terminations to send the match into a fourth set.
The fourth set wasn't nearly as back and forth, as Indiana led only at 6-5 before the Crusaders took the lead for good. The Hoosiers stuck around late in the frame, scoring three straight points to close to within 19-17, but after the teams traded sideouts, Valpo again closed the set on a run. The Crusaders posted the final five points, including two kills by Vanden Berg, who also combined on a pair of blocks with fellow junior Janelle Hobbs (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead), as the match went to a decisive fifth set. Valpo hit at a .433 clip in the fourth set, posting 16 kills on just 30 swings while committing just three errors.
The final frame went the Hoosiers' way early, as they scored the first three points and held a 6-4 advantage approaching the halfway point. But for the third straight set, the Crusaders came up with a key run, scoring five in a row, including two service aces and a kill from redshirt sophomore Lindsey Hauch (Coloma, Mich./Coloma), to go ahead 9-6.
Indiana scored three straight to tie the final set at nine-all, but could not take the lead outright, as Dooms posted back-to-back kills to put Valpo ahead again by an 11-9 count. The teams swapped sideouts over the next four points, with Victor and Vanden Berg tallying kills for the Crusaders, as Valpo led 13-11. Dooms then tallied a service ace to move the Crusaders to match point, and while a service error delayed the culmination of the come-from-behind win by one point, an error from the Hoosiers closed out the Valpo victory.
Vanden Berg dominated on both sides of the ball on Friday, picking up a career-high 14 kills on .458 hitting while also tallying six blocks. Beil added 12 kills on .364 hitting, while Dooms finished with 10 kills and 11 digs. Berrington handed out a team-high 24 assists to go with 20 from junior Ariel Cudney (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte), while senior Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) led the way on the back line with 18 digs.
Valparaiso (6-6) plays its final two matches of the Hoosier Classic on Saturday, taking on Miami (Ohio) at 9 a.m. CDT before facing UT-Chattanooga at 4 p.m. Live stats for both matches can be found through www.valpoathletics.com.