Valparaiso (19-4, 6-1 Horizon)
Crusaders look for win #20
Saturday, Oct. 26 - UIC (7-15, 2-5 Horizon) - 2 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 28 - at Chicago State (2-20, 0-8 WAC) - 7 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Valparaiso puts its six-match winning streak on the line as the second half of Horizon League play starts with a home match Saturday afternoon against UIC. The Crusaders then step out of league play for the final time Monday evening at Chicago State. Valpo is one win shy of reaching the 20-win milestone for a 12th straight season.
Previously: Valpo dropped just one set last weekend in a pair of HL wins over Oakland and Wright State, following which Ellen Vanden Berg was named the HL Defensive Player of the Week. Then, in mid-week action, the Crusaders downed MVC leader Illinois State on the road in four sets.
Following the Crusaders: Live stats, live audio via WVUR and live video for the UIC match will be available through ValpoAthletics.com, while live stats for the Chicago State match will be available as well. Every Horizon League match, home and away, will have free live video via the Horizon League Network.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 12th season as head coach at Valpo, Carin Avery has won 279 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 334 total career victories in her 14th season overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: UIC - With a four-set win in Chicago earlier this year, the Crusaders now hold a 24-23 lead in the all-time series, but under Avery, Valpo enjoys a 15-4 advantage. Emily Campbell led the way for Valpo in the first matchup with 12 kills and 10 digs.
Chicago State - Valpo is 39-1 all-time against the Cougars and has won 39 straight matchups. Last season, the two teams met up twice, with the Crusaders winning 3-0 at the Hawkeye Challenge and then 3-1 later in the year at CSU.
Scouting the Opposition: UIC - The Flames closed the first half of HL play at 2-5 in league and 7-15 overall. Sara Sternard leads the team in hitting pct. (.318) and kills (2.94/set), while MaryKate Imrie hands out 10.04 assists/set.
Chicago State - The Cougars enter the weekend at 2-20 overall and 0-8 in their first season of WAC competition. Paula Sioto leads CSU with 3.59 kills/set, while libero Mia Townsell picks up 3.45 digs/set.
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.
12 Straight 20-Win Seasons?: Valpo enters this weekend just one win shy of reaching the 20-win milestone and ensuring it will remain in an elite group of of volleyball programs. 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.
Winning Streaks: With their win at Illinois State on Tuesday, the Crusaders won their sixth consecutive match. This six-match winning streak is the second such stretch of the year, as Valpo opened the season on an eight-match winning streak. You have to go back to 2005 (W7, W6, W6) to find the last time a Crusader squad won at least six straight matches multiple times during the season.
19 Wins Through 23 Matches: Following the record-tying winning streak to open the season, the Crusaders now sit at 19-4 through 23 matches, one of the program’s best records at this point in the season all-time. Only the 2004 squad, which was 20-3 at the same juncture, had a better record, while the 2003 team also had just four losses through 23 matches. Both those teams eventually advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Dooms Reaches Milestone: Senior outside hitter Sarah Dooms became just the 13th player in program history to reach 1,000 career kills, doing so with her ninth kill of Friday’s win over Oakland. But the six-rotation player is in even more select company when you consider her play on both sides of the ball. Dooms is just the seventh player all-time at Valpo to reach four figures in both kills and digs, and in fact also passed 1,500 career digs against Oakland, joining Lori Barton as the only 1,000 kill/1,500 dig players in program history.
Vanden Berg Earns Honor: Senior middle hitter Ellen Vanden Berg became the third Crusader this season to earn Player of the Week honors from the Horizon League last Monday, earning the accolade after tallying 18 total blocks in Valpo’s wins over IUPUI, Oakland and Wright State. Vanden Berg, who followed with eight more rejections Tuesday in the victory at Illinois State, is now averaging 1.80 blocks/set over Valpo’s last five victories. She joins Sarah Dooms and Kelsey Victor as Crusaders who have been honored by the HL office this season.
Record Book Watch: A number of Crusaders are making their marks on Valpo’s career record book as the 2013 season hits the home stretch. Sarah Dooms already ranks among the all-time top-10 in attacks (3,505 - 3rd) and digs (1,530 - 5th, 7 shy of 4th) and is just 13 kills shy of the top-10 in that category as well. Ellen Vanden Berg has tallied 372 blocks, sixth-most in program history, while her career hitting pct. of .252 would tie for seventh all-time. Morgan Beil would rank second in Crusader history with her .271 hitting percentage as well. Meanwhile, Ariel Cudney has totaled 129 career service aces, fifth all-time and just two shy of the fourth spot, while Kelsey Berrington ranks 10th with 1,288 career assists.