Valparaiso (16-2, 3-1 Horizon)
Crusaders continue league play on the road
Friday, Oct. 10 – at Oakland (11-7, 3-0 Horizon) – Rochester, Mich. – 6 p.m. CT
Saturday, Oct. 11 – at Wright State (3-14, 0-3 Horizon) – Dayton, Ohio – 3 p.m. CT
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team hits the road again this weekend for two more Horizon League matches. The Crusaders will attempt to knock Oakland from the ranks of the league unbeaten on Friday evening before heading to Wright State Saturday afternoon.
Previously: Valparaiso earned a pair of league victories to improve to 16-2 overall and 3-1 in Horizon League play. The Crusaders defeated Youngstown State 3-1 on Friday and downed Cleveland State in four sets on Saturday. The latter match saw Morgan Beil set a new program record for hitting percentage in a four-set match.
Following the Crusaders: Live video through the Horizon League Network will be available for both matches this weekend, with links for the live video and live stats available at ValpoAthletics.com. HLN will carry free live video of each of the Crusaders' league matches and all home non-league matches, while select matches will be covered by Valpo's student radio station, WVUR [95.1, Valparaiso], as well. In addition, most matches will have live stats available online.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 13th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 302 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 40 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 357 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Oakland – The Crusaders have dominated the all-time series against the Golden Grizzlies, carrying an 18-4 advantage into Friday’s matchup. However, the two squads split last season's meetings, as Valpo won in four sets at the ARC before Oakland earned a five-set win in Rochester to close out the regular season.
Wright State – Valpo owns a narrow 16-14 edge in the all-time series over the Raiders, but since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League, it's been all Valpo, to the tune of a 13-1 advantage. The Crusaders haven't lost to WSU since 2007. Last season, Valpo swept the Raiders at the ARC and earned a four-set win in Dayton.
Scouting the Opposition: Oakland – The Golden Grizzlies enter the weekend at 11-7 overall and a perfect 3-0 in league play, falling to Eastern Michigan mid-week last week before sweeping Wright State. Melissa Deatsch leads Oakland offensively, averaging 3.05 kills/set, while six different OU players have tallied at least 10 aces this year for the league's top-serving team.
Wright State – The Raiders are just 3-14 overall on the season and sit at 0-3 within the Horizon League, having been swept in each of their last four matches. The balanced offense features five players between 100 and 150 kills, led by 2.59 kills/set from Katie Klusman. Jessie Thornton ranks among the league leaders with 5.26 digs/set.
Record-Setting Performance: A season which has already seen the Crusaders set new program bests for most victories before their second and third losses of the season, saw a new individual record set on Saturday. Senior Morgan Beil ended the win over Cleveland State with 15 kills and just one attack error on 19 swings, good for a .737 hitting percentage. That shattered the previous Crusader record for hitting percentage in a four-set match, which had stood for nearly 30 years at .632. The mark is sixth overall for any length match all-time at Valpo, and is the best performance by a Crusader since 2007.
Players of the Week: Buoyed by her performance against CSU, Beil earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Horizon League office, the first career weekly honor for the senior since she was a freshman. Beil became the third different Crusader to earn a league weekly award this year, as Emily Campbell and Allison Ketcham earned accolades in back-to-back weeks in mid-September.
Crusader Milestones: Senior Kelsey Victor entered last week just six blocks shy of 300 for her career, and hit the milestone midway through the first set against Cleveland State. Victor now has 305 career rejections, just 15 blocks shy of Valpo's career top-ten chart. In addition, senior Morgan Beil boasts 997 career kills, just three terminations shy of becoming the 14th player in Crusader history to reach four figures in kills.
Best Start: The Crusader volleyball team had never gone as deep into a season before sustaining its second loss as they did this season, winning 14 of its first 15 matches before suffering the loss at Milwaukee on Saturday. This also marks the most wins Valpo has had in a season before losing for the third time (16-2), as the 2010 squad previously held the best mark at 13-2 before losing its third match.
Unlucky 13: Valparaiso saw its winning streak, which dated back to the third match of the season, snapped in the five-set loss at Milwaukee two weeks back. The streak concluded at 13 straight wins, matching the 2008 team for the second-longest winning streak in program history. The 2004 squad’s streak of 14 consecutive victories remains the program’s standard.
Not Going Down Easy: While the Crusaders lost at Milwaukee, they rallied back from down two sets to force a fifth set. Both of Valpo’s losses this season have seen the Crusaders take their opponents the distance. In fact, going back to last year, over Valpo’s last 34 matches, it has lost just six times, and five of those losses have gone a full five sets.
Continued League Success: Since joining the Horizon League prior to the 2007 campaign, the Crusaders have been very successful in league play and are looking to continue that success this season. Valpo owns a 74-36 (.673) mark in league play over the last seven years and has finished above .500 in all seven seasons. Four times, the Crusaders have finished in second place in the league standings and have never finished below fourth place.
Rankings News: Valparaiso entered this week among the top half of the Horizon League as a team in all but one statistical categorie, topping the league in hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage and digs while ranking second in kills and assists. Individually, Emily Campbell continues to pace the league in kills, while Kelsey Victor sits second in blocks, Morganne Longoria ranks third in digs and Kelsey Berrington is third in assists. Four Crusaders rank among the league's top-ten in hitting percentage as well. Nationally, Campbell sits 30th in kills/set, and as a team, the Crusaders rank in the top-50 in winning percentage (8th), digs/set (11th), opponent hitting percentage (32nd) and hitting percentage (44th).
Trio of Titles: Capturing the Crusader Crossroads of America Classic gave Valpo a third consecutive in-season tournament title and continued a tradition of picking up hardware early in the season. The triumph was Valpo’s 20th tournament victory in the 13-year tenure of head coach Carin Avery. The Crusaders have now brought home at least one in-season championship in 10 of the last 13 years, and have captured multiple titles in seven of those seasons. This year’s three titles match the 2006 and 2010 teams for most championships in a single season.
Spread Around the Honors: Freshman Allison Ketcham claimed Tournament MVP honors in Valpo’s home tournament victory and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by seniors Morgan Beil and Kelsey Victor, continuing the run of honors for the Crusaders at early-season tournaments. Seven different Crusaders earned All-Tournament accolades this year, four of them receiving multiple awards. Ketcham joined Kelsey Berrington (Jackrabbit Invitational) and Emily Campbell (Skyhawk Invitational) as Valpo players who have been tournament MVPs this season.
Crusaders Picked Second in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders have been picked to finish in second place in the Horizon League standings this season, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. Valpo claimed one first-place vote and 39 points, trailing only Milwaukee, which tallied 47 points, including six first-place nods. The Crusaders edged out Oakland by two points for second position.
Looking Back at 2013: It was another successful season for the Crusader volleyball program last year. The program matched the best-ever start in team history, winning each of its first eight matches, including tournament wins at the UCF Invitational and the Popcorn Classic, capping the latter tournament with a win over Big Ten foe Iowa. Valpo would end the season with 25 wins, finishing in second place in the Horizon League standings and earning a berth in the league title match. Along the way, three Crusaders earned All-League honors and two others were named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.
12 Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders’ 25 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 10 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches in each of the last 12 years, a group which also includes Colorado State, Florida, Hawai’i, Nebraska, Ohio, Penn State, Stanford, UNI and Western Kentucky.