The Valparaiso University volleyball team closed out its five-match homestand with ease Tuesday evening at the ARC against Chicago State, sweeping the Cougars 3-0 (25-22, 25-9, 25-16).
Valpo hit .301 for the match, the eighth time this season the Crusaders have swung at a .300 clip or better for an entire contest. Leading the way for the offense was junior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central), who enjoyed one of the top matches on the attack of her career. Campbell did not commit an attack error on her 26 swings and put down 14 kills on the evening, good for a .538 hitting percentage.
Freshman Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) added eight kills as the Crusaders spread the wealth offensively. Sophomore Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) chipped in seven kills on .500 hitting, while junior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) and freshman Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) posted five kills apiece, the latter on .444 hitting. Splitting time at setter Tuesday were senior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) and sophomore Tarrah Lasky (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), who finished with 20 and 15 assists, respectively.
Defensively, sophomore Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) played all three sets at libero – her first career action at the position in the Crusader uniform – and stood out, registering a match-high 21 digs to go along with a trio of service aces. Then, at the net, Zaleski enjoyed the best match of her young career. The freshman entered the night with just 11 career blocks, but finished the sweep of the Cougars with seven rejections to lead Valpo as it ended the night with nine total team blocks. Bruinsma was in on five blocks, while Graboski tallied three as well.
Trying some different lineup combinations, as all 12 Crusaders who dressed on Tuesday saw action, Valpo got off to a slow start to the match and, despite leading for the second half of the first set, was never able to pull away. Leading by just one at 23-22, however, the Crusaders closed things out with back-to-back kills from Campbell. The Crusaders led start-to-finish in the second set, hitting .542 with 15 kills to go ahead two sets to none, and then overcame an early three-point deficit in the third frame with a 12-2 run to take control and finish off the sweep.
Elli Woinowsky paced Chicago State (1-18) on Tuesday night with eight kills and 11 digs. Briana Stewart added seven kills, eight digs and three blocks for the Cougars.
“What you want to get out of mid-week matches at this point of the year is to get some players some playing time who might not get it on the weekends,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We’re dealing with a couple injuries, and so today was good to get other players game action at those positions instead of just practice time.”
Valparaiso (17-4) heads on the road for the Horizon League swing through Northeast Ohio this weekend, starting with a match Friday night at Cleveland State at 6 p.m. CT. The match can be seen live on ESPN3.com, with links for live stats available at ValpoAthletics.com.