Valparaiso (20-6, 6-4 Horizon)
Crusaders begin four-match stretch away from home
Tuesday, Oct. 27 – 7 p.m. – Chicago, Ill. – at UIC (12-12, 5-5 Horizon)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – 3 p.m. CT – Rochester, Mich. – at Oakland (14-10, 8-2 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso University volleyball team will become familiar with its bus over the next two weeks, as the Crusaders kick off a four-match stretch of road contests with two road matches this week. Valpo makes the short trip west across the state line to take on UIC Tuesday night, and then heads up to Michigan to face off with Oakland Saturday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo went 2-1 at home last week, hitting the 20-win mark for the season in the process. The Crusaders took down IPFW in four sets in non-league action on Wednesday before sweeping Wright State Friday night.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this week will be broadcast on ESPN3.com, with live stats available at ValpoAthletics.com as well. Over the course of the 2015 season, all 15 home matches and most league road matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, while WVUR, Valpo’s student radio station, will also be broadcasting select matches.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 14th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 332 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 387 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: UIC - The Crusaders hold a 28-24 edge in the series with the Flames, including a four-set win earlier this season at the ARC. Emily Campbell led Valpo with 25 kills on .400 hitting in that win, while Katherine Carlson hit .480 with 13 kills.
Oakland - A series which dates back to 1998, when both teams were part of the Mid-Continent Conference, Valpo holds an 18-7 advantage in the all-time series. The Golden Grizzlies have taken four of five matchups since the start of the 2013 campaign, however, including a 3-1 win at the ARC earlier this year.
Scouting the Opposition: UIC – The Flames enter Tuesday night’s match one game back of the Crusaders in the league standings, as they sit at 5-5 in Horizon League action and 12-12 overall. Stephenee Yancy ranks among the nation’s top attackers, tallying 4.57 kills/set on .373 hitting out of the middle, while Nicole Johnson hands out a league-best 11.44 assists/set.
Oakland – The Golden Grizzlies enter the week 14-10 overall and 8-2 in Horizon League play, one game out of first place, and host UIC Friday night before welcoming the Crusaders to town. The balanced Oakland attack boasts four players with 200 kills or more on the year, led by Melissa Deatsch’s 3.07 kills/set.
Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The Crusaders have been picked to finish in third place in the Horizon League in the 2015 season. Valpo totaled 50 points in the voting to finish in third place in the poll, just behind second choice Milwaukee, which finished with 53 points and one first-place vote. Oakland, which captured the league title last season, was a unanimous choice atop the league, with eight first-place votes and 64 points.
Looking Back at 2014: Last season saw the Crusaders propel themselves out of the gate to start the season with the best start in program history, as Valpo opened the season with a 14-1 record en route to 25 victories. Valpo won three in-season tournament titles and earned 13 straight wins to match the second-longest winning streak in program history. Along the way, head coach Carin Avery won her 300th match as Valpo head coach. The Crusaders boasted the Horizon League co-Player of the Year and an Honorable Mention All-Region honoree in Emily Campbell - the program's first Player of the Year since 2008 - and also earned two other All-League and a pair of All-Freshman Team selections.
Reaching 20 Wins Again: The Valpo volleyball program has already extended an impressive streak this season, reaching the 20-win mark for the 14th straight season with last week’s win over Wright State. Only 10 Division I volleyball programs have won at least 20 matches in each of the last 13 years (2002-2014), a group which includes Colorado State, Florida, Hawai'i, Nebraska, Ohio, Penn State, Stanford, UNI and Western Kentucky. Of the group, the Crusaders were the second to reach the mark this season, joining Western Kentucky.
Road Warriors: The Crusaders will be looking for road success this next two weeks, something which has come to the program the last couple years. This season, Valpo owns an 11-2 record in matches away from home – with the only two losses both coming in five-set affairs. This comes after last year’s squad got to 25 wins, thanks in large part to a 17-4 mark in matches away from home.
Just Six Points: Getting off to a quick start is usually a good sign for earning a win, but Valpo took it to another level in the win over Wright State Friday. The Crusaders needed just 16 minutes to dispatch the Raiders in the first set, winning the frame 25-6 as they hit .517 for the set and held WSU to -.125 hitting. The six points matched the second-fewest Valpo has allowed in a set since the move to rally scoring, trailing just the 25-4 opening set the Crusaders posted at WSU back in 2011.
Among the Best Nationally: Over last week’s three matches, the Crusaders averaged better than 20 digs/set, increasing their season average to 17.56 digs/set – a mark which ranks fourth in the nation. Valpo also boasts a top-20 placement in kills/set, as the Crusaders are currently averaging 14.22 kills/set, good for 17th place.
Campbell Matches Program Record: Junior Emily Campbell tied a Valpo program record on Saturday in the Crusaders’ loss to Northern Kentucky, taking 77 swings for the match. The 77 attacks were the most by a Crusader in the rally-scoring era. In fact, it had been nearly 23 years since Kathy Harrison set the single-match attacks record at 77 against Butler on Nov. 4, 1992. Of those 77 swings, Campbell put 26 down for kills, setting a new career high. The junior now has tallied at least 20 kills in three of the last four matches and owns 1,074 career kills, just 14 kills shy of cracking Valpo’s career top-10 chart.
Best Start in Program History: This year’s Crusader squad went deeper into the season than any other team in program history before suffering its first loss. Valpo’s win on Sept. 12 over Savannah State improved its record to 9-0, surpassing the 2003 and 2013 teams, both of which started the year 8-0 before losing for the first time. This year’s team also joins last year’s squad as the only teams to hold 15-2 marks 17 matches into the season