Valparaiso (24-7, 9-5 Horizon)
at Horizon League Championship (Rochester, Mich.)
Friday, Nov. 21 - vs. UIC (14-16, 7-7 Horizon) - 4 p.m. CT
Saturday, Nov. 22 - HL Semifinal - 4 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 23 - HL Final - 1 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso volleyball team enters the Horizon League Championship as the third seed and opens tournament play against sixth-seeded UIC Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. CT. With three wins in three days, the Crusaders would claim their first Horizon League title.
Previously: Valpo closed out the regular season with back-to-back wins last week, defeating IPFW in non-league action, 3-2, and sweeping UIC, 3-0, to close out the league slate.
Following the Crusaders: Live video through HLN/ESPN3.com, as well as live audio and live stats, will be available for all tournament matches through ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 13th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 311 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 366 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: UIC - 26-24 overall; 14-4 since joining HL; 1-1 this season
Milwaukee - 16-22 overall; 7-14 since joining HL; 0-2 this season
Oakland - 18-6 overall; 3-3 since joining HL; 0-2 this season
Youngstown State - 25-7 overall; 15-3 since joining HL; 2-0 this season
Cleveland State - 19-13 overall; 7-11 since joining HL; 2-0 this season
The Tournament Field: The third-seeded Crusaders face sixth-seeded UIC in the first quarterfinal Friday, followed by #4 YSU vs. #5 CSU in the other quarterfinal. Top-seeded Oakland will play the worst remaining seed in the first semifinal Saturday, while second-seeded Milwaukee plays the other quarterfinal winner in the second semifinal.
13 Straight 20-Win Seasons: The Crusaders have continued their tremendous streak of success again this season. Valparaiso has won 20 or more matches every year since 2002, Avery’s first at the helm of the Crusader program - a streak which now sits at 13 consecutive seasons. Valpo is one of just 10 programs nationwide to have won at least 20 matches each year from 2002 through 2013, and was just the fifth team to reach the milestone again in 2014.
Valpo in the HL Championship: The Crusaders are in search of their first Horizon League tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament since joining the league in 2007. Valpo is 8-7 all-time in the HL Championship and has advanced to the title match three times. Against possible opponents this weekend, Valpo is 1-1 against UIC, 2-3 versus Milwaukee, 2-0 against YSU and 0-2 versus CSU.
Campbell Claims Top Honor: For the first time since 2008, a Crusader has been named Horizon League Player of the Year, as sophomore Emily Campbell shared the league’s top honor with UIC’s Stephenee Yancy. Campbell is just the fourth Valpo player all-time to be named league Player of the Year, as well as the first underclassman. Campbell ranked second in the league and 24th nationall with 4.35 kills/set, while her 457 total kills are already ninth-most in a single season in program history.
Other All-League Honorees: In all, five Valpo players earned postseason awards from the league office. Joining Campbell on the All-League Team were senior Kelsey Victor and junior Kelsey Berrington, both of which earned All-League nods for the first time. Meanwhile, rookies Taylor Graboski and Allison Ketcham each represented the Crusaders on the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.
Record Book Watch (Career): A trio of Crusaders boast spots among the program’s career top-ten charts. Senior Morgan Beil is second in program history in hitting percentage (.278), just two points behind first position, and is tied for ninth with 1,088 career kills, just nine kills shy of eighth place. Victor owns 358 career blocks, good for eighth position and just ten back of seventh, and has tallied 47 career solo blocks, tenth-best in program history. Berrington currently ranks seventh with 2,756 career assists and is poised to move into sixth with 25 more assists.
Record Book Watch (Single Season): Campbell’s 457 kills this year are already ninth-most in a single campaign in Crusader history, just three kills back of eighth place and within striking range of fifth position (23 kills). The sophomore also ranks fifth in a single season all-time at Valpo with 1,243 attacks. Victor’s .317 hitting percentage would be second-best in a single season in program history. She also has tallied 123 blocks, just three shy of the top-ten, while Berrington owns 1,231 assists, just 13 shy of cracking the top-ten. As a team, Valpo is on pace to shatter the previous single-season hitting percentage mark, swinging at a .253 clip.
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.
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.