Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders open 2016 season with first of four early-season tournaments
at Black Knights Invitational – West Point, N.Y.
Friday, Aug. 26 – 11 a.m. CT – vs. CSU Bakersfield (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Friday, Aug. 26 – 4 p.m. CT – vs. Hofstra (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
Saturday, Aug. 27 – 11 a.m. CT – at Army West Point (0-0, 0-0 Patriot)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso University volleyball team kicks off the 2016 season this weekend with its first of four early-season tournaments, making the trip to West Point for the Black Knights Invitational. The Crusaders, who return 12 of 14 letterwinners from last season’s 27-win team, will face CSU Bakersfield and Hofstra in addition to host Army West Point on the opening weekend.
Looking Ahead: The second weekend of play sees Valpo head south to Troy, Ala. to take part in the Trojan Invitational, taking on New Mexico State, Troy and Austin Peay.
Following the Crusaders: All three matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. In addition, the match versus Army West Point will have free live video as well.
Special West Point Visitor Information: Fans planning on attending the tournament this weekend at Army West Point should be aware of recent changes to the U.S. Military Academy’s visitor policy. For visitor information, please visit http://www.westpoint.army.mil/visitus.html.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 15th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 339 matches (339-132) 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 394 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: The Crusaders will be matching up with CSU Bakersfield on the volleyball court for the first time. Valpo is 2-0 all-time versus Hofstra, most recently earning a sweep in September of 2010 at the Bradley Invitational. The Crusaders welcomed Army West Point to the ARC during the 2013 Popcorn Classic for their only previous meeting, a 3-1 Valpo victory.
Scouting the Opposition: CSU Bakersfield finished the 2015 campaign at 13-15 and finished second in WAC play with a 10-4 record in conference. Hofstra posted a 21-11 overall record and tied for the CAA regular season championship at 12-4 in league play. Army West Point went 21-10 last season and finished the 2015 season in second place in the Patriot League with a 12-4 mark.
Crusaders Picked Second in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish in second place in the Horizon League during the 2016 season, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders received four first-place votes, matching Cleveland State for the most first-place votes received. The Vikings edged out the Crusaders for the top spot in the poll, tallying 60 points to Valpo’s 57. Oakland picked up the final first-place vote and totaled 52 points.
Looking Back at 2015: Last year’s Crusader team matched the second-most wins in a single season in program history, posting a 27-8 overall record. Valpo finished in third place in Horizon League play, going 11-5 in league action, and advanced to the Horizon League Championship title match for the fourth time since joining the league prior to the 2007 season. Along the way, the Crusaders set a new program best to start the season, winning each of their first nine matches, while Emily Campbell and Allison Ketcham were named All-Horizon League honorees.
In Search of 20 More Wins: The Valpo volleyball program finds itself among a prestigious group of programs nationwide, as last year’s 27-win campaign was the 14th straight season the Crusaders captured at least 20 victories – all under head coach Carin Avery. Only nine Division I volleyball programs have won at least 20 matches in each of the last 14 years, a group which includes Colorado State, Florida, Hawai'i, Nebraska, Ohio, Penn State, Stanford and Western Kentucky.
Plenty of Experience Returns: 12 of 14 letterwinners return from last year’s 27-win squad, including all but one starter. The only losses from last year’s team were starting setter Kelsey Berrington, who finished her career third in program history in assists, and defensive specialist Catherine Ament, who was forced to step away from playing due to being medically unable to compete. On the flip side, the Crusaders welcome just one newcomer to this year’s team – defensive specialist Alana Brown, out of Vintage [Calif.] H.S.
Last Year’s Award Winners: Valpo had four players honored by the Horizon League for their play last season. Senior Emily Campbell (4.25 kills/set, 2.94 digs/set) and junior Allison Ketcham (3.53 digs/set, 2.72 kills/set) both earned All-League honors, Campbell doing so for the second straight year. Meanwhile, sophomores Katherine Carlson (2.36 kills/set, 2.57 digs/set) and Kayla Currier (1.86 kills/set, 0.90 blocks/set) both earned spots on the All-Freshman Team. Valpo has had multiple All-League honorees each of its nine years in the Horizon League and in every season dating back to the Mid-Con in 2001. The Crusaders have also had multiple All-Freshman team honorees in each of the last three years.
Record Book Watch: Entering the 2016 season, a pair of Crusaders already rank among the program’s all-time best in their respective statistical categories. Senior Emily Campbell enters her final year with 1,150 career kills – good for seventh in program history, just 45 shy of fifth place and within striking distance of second position (1,505 kills). Meanwhile, fellow senior Morganne Longoria owns 1,569 career digs entering her fourth year at Valpo, already good for fifth on the program’s all-time chart and just 84 out of fourth place.