Valparaiso (18-5, 4-3 Horizon)
Crusaders kick off second half of Horizon League action at the ARC this weekend
Friday, Oct. 24 – Milwaukee (11-10, 5-2 Horizon) – ARC – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 25 - Green Bay (3-15, 1-6 Horizon) - ARC - 4 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team opens up the second half of the Horizon League slate this weekend, hosting Milwaukee and Green Bay at the ARC on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Crusaders are just one game out of first place in the league standings at the halfway point.
Previously: The Crusaders snapped a brief two-match losing skid Tuesday evening with a sweep in straight sets of Chicago State. Prior to that, Valpo dropped home matches to UIC (3-1) on Friday and North Dakota State (3-2) on Sunday.
Following the Crusaders: Live video through the Horizon League Network, as well as live audio via WVUR and live stats, will be available for both matches this weekend through 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 304 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 359 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Milwaukee - A back-and-forth series between two of the league’s premier programs, the Crusaders trail the Panthers all-time 21-16. The two squads fought through five sets earlier this year in Milwaukee, but the Crusaders' attempt to overcome a 2-0 deficit was thwarted in the final frame by the Panthers. Emily Campbell posted 21 kills and 15 digs in that match, while Taylor Graboski hit .444 with 14 kills and six blocks.
Green Bay - Valpo owns a 22-10 edge in the all-time series over the Phoenix, including a three-set sweep earlier this season in Wisconsin. Campbell led the way offensively for Valpo in that match with 18 kills on .400 hitting, while Morganne Longoria tallied 20 digs.
Scouting the Opposition: Milwaukee - The Panthers enter the weekend at 11-10 overall and are one of three teams tied atop the Horizon League standings at 5-2. Julie Kolinske hits .263 and is averaging an even four kills per set, while Taylor Golabowski has registered a team-best 4.09 digs/set.
Green Bay - The Phoenix are 3-15 overall and 1-6 in Horizon League play after knocking off Oakland last weekend. Green Bay will play at UIC on Friday before visiting the ARC on Saturday. Jillian Bauer ranks among the league leaders with 4.81 digs/set. Offensively, Taylor Kasal owns a team-best 2.72 kills/set.
Starting the Second Half: While the Crusaders enter the second half of Horizon League action in a tie for fourth place in the league standings, it's a bunched-up group from one through five. Three schools are tied atop the standings at 5-2 through the first seven matches, while Valpo is tied with UIC, just one game back at 4-3.
Milestone for Beil: Senior Morgan Beil, just one weekend removed from a record-setting performance [highest hitting percentage for a four-set match], reached a big milestone two weeks ago at Oakland. With her third kill of the match, Beil registered the 1,000th kill of her Crusader career, making her just the 14th player in Valpo volleyball history to reach four figures in kills. Beil enters this week with 1,035 career kills, just 42 terminations shy of the Crusaders’ all-time top-10 in the category, while she is also in second place in program history in hitting percentage (.278).
Victor Cracks the Block Chart: Senior Kelsey Victor combined for 11 blocks in the Crusaders' matches against UIC and North Dakota State last weekend, and with her lone rejection of the match at Chicago State on Tuesday, moved into sole possession of tenth place on Valpo's career blocks chart. Victor has totaled 321 career blocks and is just four blocks shy of matching Carrie Goodrich for ninth place in Crusader history.
Rejection City: Valparaiso had its defense at the net working last Friday against UIC, registering 18 blocks over the four sets, tied for the ninth-best single-match total all-time at Valpo. The 18 blocks were the second-most Valpo has recorded since the move to 25-point scoring, while the total also is the most over a four-set match since 2004. Leading the way was freshman Taylor Graboski, who registered a career-best ten blocks, while Kelsey Berrington also set a new career high, joining in on six blocks.
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. This season also set a new mark for 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. This year’s team has a few more wins to go to reach the mark for most victories before a fourth loss, as the 2004 team opened the season 20-3 before suffering its fourth defeat.
Players of the Week: Buoyed by her record-setting performance against Cleveland State, 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.
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.
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 75-38 (.664) 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.
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.
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.