The Valparaiso volleyball team captured the opening set of its match Friday evening in Rochester, Mich. at Oakland, but the Golden Grizzlies claimed the final three sets to send the Crusaders to a 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18) defeat.
Senior right side hitter Morgan Beil (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) became just the 13th player in program history to reach the 1,000-kill milestone in Friday night’s loss. Beil entered the match with 997 career kills and reached the milestone in the first set with a termination which gave the Crusaders a 19-14 edge. The senior ended the match with nine kills, giving her 1,006 kills for her career – just 71 kills shy of Valpo’s all-time top-ten in the category.
The Crusaders took control of the opening set early, running out to a quick 7-2 advantage. Oakland would cut the lead to 8-7, but Valpo responded with a 7-1 spurt, including two kills and a block from sophomore Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central), to push its lead to 15-8. The lead would not fall under four points the rest of the way as Valpo grabbed the opener.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, the rest of the match would not fall in their favor. Trailing most of the second set, Valpo was within one point multiple times late and faced just a 20-19 deficit following a kill from senior Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport). But the Golden Grizzlies scored five of the frame’s final six points to send the match into the in-game break tied at one set apiece.
In the third set, Valpo led past the halfway point, as late as 16-15, but Oakland scored six of the next eight points to take control and the Crusaders were unable to get any closer than two the rest of the way. Then, in the fourth set, Valpo tied the match a number of times just past the midway point, including at 15-15, but the Golden Grizzlies closed out the set and the match on a 10-3 spurt.
Campbell paced the Crusaders on Friday evening with 15 kills, but was the only Valpo player to reach double figures in the category. Beil and freshman Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) each chipped in nine kills, while junior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) handed out 41 assists and set the Crusader offense as it hit .240 for the match.
Ketcham also registered a team-best 21 digs to go with 19 from sophomore Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington), aided by double-doubles from both Berrington (11 digs) and Campbell (10 digs). At the net, Valpo was limited to just five team blocks, its lowest total in the last 11 matches.
Cassie Pelloni led Oakland (12-7, 4-0 Horizon) with 16 kills on .310 hitting, while Jessica Dood hit .286 with 15 kills as the Golden Grizzlies hit .245 for the match. Taylor Humm led all players in the back row with 27 digs.
"You hear it all the time, but it is true - the team that wins the serve and pass game usually wins the match,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “And tonight, that was the case. You can look at the stats from the match and we were even tonight in every category but those two.”
Valparaiso (16-3, 3-2 Horizon) looks to rebound and split the road trip on Saturday afternoon at Wright State. First serve is slated for 3 p.m. CT, with all the action carried live on the Horizon League Network. Links for the live video and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.