Valparaiso closed out its weekend in New York City by capturing the Terrier Invitational championship, downing host St. Francis Brooklyn in straight sets (25-23, 25-11, 25-16) Saturday afternoon before heading for some more sightseeing prior to leaving the city. Senior setter Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) was named Tournament MVP.
“It was great to end the weekend on such a high note today,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “I was glad to see us take care of business on the court again, and I thought Kelsey did a tremendous job leading us all weekend long. Then to be able to give the girls a chance to visit some of New York City’s iconic sites provided some great team-bonding experiences this weekend as well.”
As they did the previous day, the Crusaders made plenty of time for activities in the Big Apple as well on Saturday. The team woke up in the morning and headed out for a round trip on the Staten Island Ferry. After the tournament-closing victory, Valpo headed into Lower Manhattan to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and then went and walked around the world-famous Times Square before hitting the road.
The Crusaders were seemingly in control of the opening set on the court, leading 21-15 late following a service ace from redshirt freshman Kayla Currier (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), but the Terriers would make a run, scoring the next five points to cut Valpo’s lead to one. Valpo scored three of the next four points, including a pair of kills from junior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central), to earn set point at 24-21. St. Francis fought off two set points, but freshman Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) picked up a kill to give the Crusaders the opener.
Valpo’s defense got the team going in set two, as the Crusaders registered four of their five blocks in the frame en route to a 14-2 run to open the set, rolling to the win from there. Then, in set three, Valpo held just a three-point lead at 15-12 before an error by the Terriers returned the serve to the Crusaders. Junior Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central) stepped to the service line and Valpo reeled off six straight points, punctuated on either side by Bouza aces, to pull away to secure the sweep and the tournament crown.
Campbell paced Valpo offensively with 14 kills, the only player on either side to reach double figures in the category, on .367 hitting. The junior also tallied a match-high 10 digs for her third double-double of the year. Carlson added nine kills on .500 hitting and also chipped in eight digs. Currier led all players with six blocks, the second time this season she has tallied at least six rejections in a match.
Berrington handed out 25 assists on Saturday while the Crusaders hit at a .307 clip. For the weekend, the senior averaged 9.75 assists/set as the Valpo offense hit .276 over the three matches. This weekend was the fourth All-Tournament Team honor of Berrington’s career and her second MVP performance.
Meanwhile, the tournament title was the second consecutive in-season crown to start this season and the fifth straight in-season championship, dating back to last year. It also marks the 21st in-season tournament title in Avery’s tenure at Valpo.
Valparaiso (6-0) opens its home campaign at the ARC next weekend as the Crusaders host the Popcorn Classic. The two-day, nine-match event, which will bring Elon, Kennesaw State, Loyola and Savannah State to Valpo, opens Friday morning at 10 a.m. Action for the Crusaders begins at 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon versus Kennesaw State. Live stats for all matches, and live ESPN3 video of Valpo’s matches, will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.