Valparaiso (23-7, 9-5 Horizon)
Crusaders close out regular season at the ARC
Friday, Nov. 13 – 5 p.m. – ARC – Youngstown State (9-20, 3-11 Horizon)
Saturday, Nov. 14 – 4 p.m. – ARC – Cleveland State (23-5, 12-2 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso University volleyball team closes out the regular season with a pair of home matches this weekend, hosting Youngstown State for a special 5 p.m. first serve on Friday before welcoming league leader Cleveland State on Saturday at 4 p.m. Friday will serve as the program’s Honor Your Professor night, the first 200 fans in attendance will receive free t-shirts and a purchase of one game ticket for Friday night grants admission to both athletic events. On Saturday, the Crusaders will honor their lone senior, Kelsey Berrington, following the match with a Senior Day ceremony.
Previously: Valpo split its final two road matches of the regular season to close out a four-match road swing. The Crusaders went up to Green Bay and downed the Phoenix in three straight sets, avenging a loss at the ARC earlier this year, but fell in the trip’s finale at Milwaukee, 3-1.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this week will be broadcast on ESPN3.com and carried on WVUR, 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 335 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 390 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Youngstown State - The Crusaders are 26-7 all-time against the Penguins and have won 16 of 17 matchups since the start of the 2008 campaign. The first meeting this year came with some difficulty for Valpo, however, as the Crusaders had to rally from a 2-1 deficit for a 3-2 win in Youngstown. Emily Campbell led all players with 25 kills as the Crusaders out-killed YSU, 81-61.
Cleveland State - Valpo owns a 19-14 edge in the all-time series over the Vikings and had won four straight meetings before CSU took a hard-fought 3-2 victory earlier this season in Cleveland. Campbell led four Crusaders in double figures in kills with 18, while Allison Ketcham tallied a match-best 27 digs in her first league start at libero.
Scouting the Opposition: Youngstown State – YSU enters the final weekend of the regular season with a 9-20 overall record and a 3-11 mark in league play, having dropped back-to-back five-set matches. Five different Penguins have at least 200 kills on the season, led by 262 kills for Aly Ryan.
Cleveland State – The Vikings enter the weekend at 23-5 overall and 12-2 in league play, owning a one-game lead over Oakland in the league standings. Christina Toth ranks among the league’s top attackers, hitting .272 with 3.92 kills/set, while Alexis Middlebrooks leads the CSU defense with 1.13 blocks/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.
Lone Senior: One of the youngest teams in the Horizon League, Valpo will be celebrating the end of the home career for just one senior this Saturday – setter Kelsey Berrington. An All-League honoree last season, Berrington has 94 victories over her four years as a Crusader. One of the most durable players in Valpo history, she has played all but two sets for the Crusaders over her four-year career and ranks third in program history in assists. Berrington has earned All-Tournament honors on five occasions and was named Tournament MVP at South Dakota State as a junior and at Saint Francis (N.Y.) as a senior.
A Look at the League Standings: Entering the final weekend of regular season action, the Crusaders are sitting in third place with a 9-5 record in league play and hold a two-game edge in the loss column over fourth-place Northern Kentucky. With at least one win in the two matches this weekend, Valpo would secure the third seed for the upcoming Horizon League Championship.
Comeback Kids: On Sept. 26, in the second set at Wright State, the Crusaders overcame a 22-20 second-set deficit to win 27-25. It was over a month until Valpo would rally again when trailing after 20 points to win a set, as the Crusaders stepped up at Oakland, winning after trailing 21-20 in set one, 23-20 in set two and 22-17 in set three. Valpo carried that into last weekend’s road contests, as the Crusaders trailed 22-19 and then 25-24 and 26-25 in the opening set at Green Bay before earning the first-set win en route to the sweep. The Crusaders also trailed 24-23 in the third set at Milwaukee before eventually winning 31-29.
Record Book Update: Junior Emily Campbell continued her move up the Crusaders’ all-time kill chart last week, moving into seventh position in Valpo history. Campbell ended the week with 1,137 career kills, just 27 shy of sixth position in Valpo history, and also ranks seventh all-time at Valpo with 3,308 career attacks. Senior setter Kelsey Berrington ranks third with 3,825 career assists and is just five shy of the top-10 for career service aces (119), while junior libero Morganne Longoria is currently eighth with 1,472 career digs, just four shy of seventh place.
Among the Best Nationally: Valpo enters this weekend looking to improve on another already-impressive 23-7 record on the season, and has been strong all over the court. The Crusaders rank among the top-35 nationally as a team in four different statistical categories, highlighted by a sixth-place ranking in digs/set (17.56). Valpo also currently sits 18th in kills/set (14.28), 31st in assists/set (13.13) and 35th in service aces/set (1.56).
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 its win over Wright State at the ARC earlier this season. 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.
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.