Valparaiso (16-4, 4-1 Horizon)
Crusaders return home to the ARC
Friday, Oct. 18 - Oakland (8-12, 2-3) - 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19 - Wright State (6-17, 0-5) - 4 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Winners of six of its last seven matches, Valparaiso returns home for a pair of Horizon League contests this weekend. The Crusaders will host Oakland Friday night at 7 p.m. before turning around to take on Wright State Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Previously: The Crusaders swept the northeast Ohio league swing last weekend, beating Youngstown State 3-0 and rallying for a 3-2 win over Cleveland State. Then, on Tuesday, Valpo stepped out of league play and earned a 3-2 come-from-behind win at IUPUI.
Following the Crusaders: Live stats, live audio via WVUR and live video for the Crusaders’ matches this weekend will be available through ValpoAthletics.com. Every Horizon League match, home and away, will have free live video via the Horizon League Network.
Head Coach Carin Avery: Over her 11-plus years as head coach, Carin Avery has won 278 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 333 total career victories in 13-plus seasons overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Oakland - Valpo is 17-3 all-time against the Horizon League newcomers, including two wins against the Grizzlies since leaving the Mid-Con. The most recent meeting came at Oakland in October of 2010, a 3-0 Crusader sweep.
Wright State - The Crusaders and Raiders have split 28 all-time meetings, but Valpo has won 10 consecutive matchups. Last year, the Crusaders rallied for a 3-2 win in Dayton and swept the Raiders at the ARC.
Scouting the Opposition: Oakland - The Grizzlies enter the weekend at 8-12 overall and 2-3 in their first year of Horizon League action. Oakland leads the league in service aces, paced by Melissa Deatsch, whose 32 aces lead the league individually.
Wright State - The Raiders come into the weekend at 6-17 and 0-5 in the HL, with a Friday match against UIC. Heidi Splinter ranks fourth in the league with 3.06 kills/set, while Emily Meng hands out 10.03 assists/set, fourth-best as well.
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.
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.
Cardiac Crusaders: Valpo has been stellar this year when it comes to five-set matches, boasting a perfect 5-0 mark so far this season when a match goes the distance. But over their last five matches, the Crusaders have had three such matches where they have trailed by one set twice (after the first and third sets) and rallied for the win. In fact, prior to the win over Green Bay, you had to go back to Sept. 25, 2009 vs. Wright State to find the last time Valpo had dropped the first and third sets and won the match.
16 Wins Through 20 Matches: Following the record-tying winning streak to open the season, the Crusaders now sit at 16-4 through 20 matches, one of the program’s best records at this point in the season all-time. Only the 2004 squad, which was 17-3 at the same juncture, had a better record, while the 1996, 2003 and 2010 teams all had an .800 winning percentage through 20 matches as well.
Career Night for Dooms: It takes a big effort to set a new career high as a senior more than halfway through your fourth season, but for senior Sarah Dooms, she accomplished the feat on both sides of the ball in the Crusaders’ win Tuesday over IUPUI. Dooms led the Valpo offense by hitting .304 with 19 kills, besting her previous best of 18, and defensively, she totaled 25 digs to surpass her career high by one dig. She also matched her career high with four blocks as well.
A Balanced Effort: The Crusaders have showcased their balance so far in 2013, both on the stat sheet and in their honors. Five different players have tallied between 141 and 188 kills, with Sarah Dooms pacing the squad at 188 terminations. Meanwhile, seven different Crusaders earned All-Tournament honors during pre-league play: Dooms, Morganne Longoria, Ellen Vanden Berg (x2), Morgan Beil (x2), Kelsey Victor, Kelsey Berrington and Emily Campbell. Dooms and Victor have also earned weekly awards from the Horizon League office as well.
Record Book Watch: A number of Crusaders are making their marks on Valpo’s career record book as the 2013 season approaches the final third. Sarah Dooms already ranks among the all-time top-10 in attacks (3,383 - 4th, 25 shy of 3rd) and digs (1,492 - 6th) and is on pace to crack the top-10 in kills as well, entering the weekend just nine kills shy of 1,000. Ellen Vanden Berg has tallied 351 blocks, tied for seventh-most in program history, while her career hitting pct. of .251 would tie for ninth all-time. Morgan Beil would rank second in Crusader history with her .273 hitting percentage as well. Meanwhile, Ariel Cudney has totaled 126 career service aces, tied for seventh all-time and just five shy of the fourth spot, while Kelsey Berrington ranks 10th with 1,229 career assists.