Valparaiso (10-1, 0-0 Horizon)
at Blue & White Classic (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Friday, Sept. 20 - at Buffalo (10-0) - 6 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 21 - vs. #13 Ohio State (9-0) - 10 a.m.
vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (1-8) - 3:30 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team is part of a loaded tournament field this weekend at the Blue & White Classic in Buffalo, N.Y. The Crusaders, who enter their final tune-up for Horizon League play at 10-1, will take on a pair of undefeated teams in #13 Ohio State and host Buffalo, as well as Maryland Eastern Shore.
Previously: Valpo dropped its first match of the season last weekend at Evansville’s tournament, falling in straight sets to Memphis, but rebounded with a pair of 3-1 victories over SIU Edwardsville and the host Purple Aces. Junior Morgan Beil and freshman Emily Campbell represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team.
Following the Crusaders: All three matches from Buffalo are slated to have both live stats and free live video. All relevant links will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: Over her 11-plus years as head coach, Carin Avery has won 272 matches and has led Valpo to three league regular season and tournament titles, as well as three NCAA Tournament appearances. A two-time league Coach of the Year, Avery has coached 37 All-League recipients over her tenure as Crusader head coach. She is Valpo’s all-time leader in both victories and winning percentage, and owns 327 total career victories in 13-plus seasons overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Valpo is 4-1 all-time against Buffalo, including a sweep of the Bulls in Buffalo on Aug. 31, 2007, the most recent matchup. The Crusaders were swept by a top-25 Ohio State squad in their only previous matchup, which came on Aug. 26, 2011, while Valpo swept Maryland Eastern Shore on Sept. 19, 2009 in the two squads’ only previous meeting.
Crusaders Picked Atop Preseason Poll: For the first time since joining the Horizon League, Valparaiso has been selected to win the league in preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders received four of the eight first-place votes and edged out Cleveland State by two points and Milwaukee by three points, with the other two squads splitting the remaining four first-place votes.
Looking Back at 2012: The 2012 season saw Valparaiso again reach the 20-win plateau, as it finished the year with a 21-12 record, including a 10-4 mark in league play to finish in second place in the Horizon League standings. Included among the 21 wins was a win over Indiana, the Crusaders’ first-ever victory over a Big Ten opponent. Taylor Root earned her third straight HL Defensive Player of the Year nod and was joined by Ellen Vanden Berg and Morgan Beil on the All-League squad, while Kelsey Berrington earned All-Newcomer Team honors.
11 Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders’ 21 victories last season helped the program continue a tremendous streak of success. 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 11 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches in each of the last 11 years, a group which also includes Colorado State, Dayton, Florida, Hawai’i, Nebraska, Ohio, Penn State, Stanford, UNI and Western Kentucky.
Best Start Ever: While the Crusaders couldn’t make it nine straight wins to start the season and claim the outright best start in program history, they followed up their lone loss with a pair of wins and enter this weekend at 10-1. This year’s team joins the 2003 squad - which also started 10-1 - and the 2010 team - which won 11 straight after dropping the season opener - as the only Crusader squads to make it this far into a season while losing just one match.
Back-to-Back Champs: This year’s team joined the 2003 and 2010 Valpo teams as the only teams in program history to start the season with wins in back-to-back in-season tournaments. The 2010 squad would win three early-season tournaments, a mark this year’s Crusaders will look to match this weekend.
Spreading Out the Honors: Perhaps the most impressive part of the Crusaders’ undefeated start to the season is the fact that seven different players have already received All-Tournament Team honors in the first three weekends. At UCF, Sarah Dooms was named Tournament MVP, while Ellen Vanden Berg and Morganne Longoria picked up All-Tournament accolades. Then at the Popcorn Classic, Morgan Beil claimed MVP honors, while Kelsey Victor and Kelsey Berrington also received recognition. Last weekend, Beil became the Crusaders’ first repeat honoree, while freshman Emily Campbell also was named All-Tournament at Evansville.
20/20 Performance: Campbell put together perhaps the Crusaders’ best performance on both sides of the ball this season in the win over SIU Edwardsville last Saturday. The freshman tallied a Valpo season-best 20 kills in the victory, while also adding 20 digs in the back row. It was the first kills/digs 20/20 performance by a Crusader since Angie Porche did it in November of 2009 at Green Bay, and was the first 20/20 by a Horizon League player this season.
Beating the Big Ten: Entering last season, the Crusaders had never earned a win over a Big Ten squad. But following the Popcorn Classic, Valpo has now done so in back-to-back years, as the Crusaders defeated Indiana last season and then Iowa this year to secure the tournament title. The volleyball team was one of three Valpo teams (men’s/women’s soccer) to earn a win over a Big Ten program in a span of four days.
League Awards: Through three weeks, two members of the Valpo roster have already claimed Horizon League weekly accolades. Sarah Dooms was tabbed Offensive Player of the Week after her MVP performance in the opening weekend at UCF, her first career weekly honor from the league office. Kelsey Victor was chosen as Defensive Player of the Week, the second weekly award of her career, following the second weekend of play.