Valparaiso (2-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders head south for second weekend of action
at Trojan Invitational – Troy, Ala.
Friday, Sept. 2 – 2:30 p.m. – vs. New Mexico State (1-2, 0-0 WAC)
Friday, Sept. 2 – 7 p.m. – at Troy (2-2, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Saturday, Sept. 3 – 11:30 a.m. – vs. Austin Peay (2-2, 0-0 OVC)
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso University volleyball team returns to action this weekend as the Crusaders travel south to Troy, Ala. to take part in the Trojan Invitational. Valpo will face New Mexico State and the host Trojans on Friday before concluding the tournament versus Austin Peay on Saturday.
Previously: The Crusaders posted a 2-1 record on the opening weekend of action versus a strong mid-major field at the Black Knights Invitational. Valpo claimed wins over CSU Bakersfield (3-1) and host Army West Point (3-2) while dropping a five-set decision to Hofstra.
Looking Ahead: Valpo opens the home slate next weekend, hosting the Popcorn Classic. The Crusaders will welcome SE Missouri State, Central Michigan, South Dakota State and Duquesne to the ARC for the two-day, eight-match event which kicks off Friday morning, Sept. 9.
Following the Crusaders: All three matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. In addition, Troy will be providing live video of all tournament matches as well.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 15th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 341 matches (341-133) 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 396 career victories overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: The Crusaders will be meeting New Mexico State for the first time. Valpo is 3-0 all-time versus Troy, including a sweep last season at the Chattanooga Classic. The Crusaders have also won both previous matchups with Austin Peay, with the most recent victory coming in 2002 - Carin Avery's first at the helm of the Valpo program.
Scouting the Opposition: New Mexico State - The Aggies posted a 1-2 record in their first weekend of action. NMSU won the WAC title last year with a perfect 14-0 mark in league play and went 28-6 overall.
Troy - The Trojans have split four matches to open the 2016 season. Last year, Troy posted a 14-18 record and went 7-9 in Sun Belt play.
Austin Peay - The Governors sit at 2-2 through four matches, most recently dropping a mid-week match to Western Kentucky. APSU went 10-22 last season and recorded a 4-12 record in the Ohio Valley.
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.
All-Tournament Honors: Senior Emily Campbell and junior Taylor Graboski represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team at the Black Knights Invitational. Campbell, who earned All-Tournament honors for the fifth time in her career, reached double figures in kills in each of the Crusaders’ three matches on the weekend, highlighted by posting 17 kills on .310 hitting in the win over CSU Bakersfield. Graboski, an All-Tournament honoree for the fourth time, hit .312 for the weekend, including matching her career high with 15 kills and hitting at a .405 clip in the win over Amy, and posted 12 blocks.
Zaleski Steps Into New Role: After playing primarily as a right-side hitter in her first season as a Crusader, sophomore Lizzie Zaleski saw regular action at setter in the opening weekend of play. Zaleski posted double-doubles in all three matches and averaged 5.14 assists and 2.21 digs per set for the weekend. She set new career highs in both assists and digs over the course of the weekend, posting 30 assists in the win over Army West Point and 11 digs in the victory over CSU Bakersfield.
Bruinsma Sees Action at Libero: Senior Rachel Bruinsma has seen time at outside hitter, middle hitter and as a back-row player over her time at Valpo, but found herself in a new position in the match versus Army West Point last weekend. Bruinsma was tabbed as the Crusaders' libero for the match against the Black Knights and responded by nearly doubling her previous career best for digs as she finished with a match-high 27 digs in the win.
New Career Highs: Zaleski and Bruinsma were far from the only Crusaders to post career bests over the course of the season's first tournament. Sophomore Kayla Currier matched her career high with seven blocks in the win over CSUB, while sophomore Katherine Carlson bested her previous career high with 16 kills in the same match. Meanwhile, senior Jamie Lacheta set a new career best with four blocks versus CSUB and matched that mark the very next day against the Black Knights.
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: Early on in the 2016 season, a pair of Crusaders rank among the program’s all-time best in their respective statistical categories. Senior Emily Campbell enters this weekend with 1,190 career kills – good for sixth in program history, just five shy of fifth place and within striking distance of second position (1,505 kills). Meanwhile, fellow senior Morganne Longoria owns 1,610 career digs entering this weekend, already good for fifth on the program’s all-time chart and just 43 out of fourth place.