The Valparaiso volleyball team captured its ninth straight victory with a fifth consecutive sweep, taking down Toledo Tuesday evening in Toledo, Ohio in straight sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-19).
The nine-match winning streak is the sixth string of at least nine straight victories under head coach Carin Avery for the Crusaders, and is the second in the last 27 matches dating back to last season. The victory also pushed Valpo's record to 10-1 on the season, one of just four times in program history the team has won 10 matches before losing its second of the year and just one win shy of matching the record for most wins before a second loss.
Of note is the way the Crusaders have won the last five matches in their winning streak, as they have not dropped a set since a 3-1 win over Stephen F. Austin back on Sept. 5. The five straight sweeps ties a program record for most consecutive 3-0 victories, last accomplished in October of 2004. Over that stretch, Valpo has not been taken to extra points once and has only surrendered 20 or more points five times in the 15 sets.
The first set Tuesday was highlighted by a superb stretch of blocking, anchored by fifth-year senior Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport). Leading 7-5 early on, the Crusaders went on an 8-0 run which included four blocks, all of which Victor was involved in. The senior had one solo rejection, was joined by junior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) on two blocks and combined with sophomore Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) on the other block. Victor ended the opening set with five blocks as the Crusaders' lead never fell below six points the rest of the way.
Valpo led start-to-finish in the second set after opening the frame with five consecutive points, as Campbell and Victor registered six kills apiece to help the Crusaders go ahead 2-0. Then, in the third set, Toledo led most of the first half before the Crusaders took the lead for good at 13-12, with a 5-0 run at 15-14 pushing Valpo's lead to six points and helping to secure the sweep.
As she has most of the season, Campbell paced the Crusaders on the offensive side of the ball, hitting .290 with a match-high 13 kills. Victor added nine kills, while freshman Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) needed just 11 swings to tally eight kills, hitting at a .636 clip. As a team, the Crusaders hit .303 on Tuesday, with Berrington handing out assists on 35 of Valpo's kills.
Berrington also picked up 14 digs defensively to lead all players and register a double-double, while sophomore Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) chipped in 11 digs. Victor's five blocks all came in the opening set, as the Crusaders ended the evening with 6.5 total team blocks.
Valparaiso (10-1) comes home to host the Crusader Crossroads of America Classic at the ARC this weekend. Valpo will welcome Murray State, Sacramento State and George Washington for the two-day event, which begins Friday afternoon. The Crusaders' first match comes against Murray State at 7 p.m. on Friday evening.