Valparaiso (6-4, 0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders face final week of action before start of Horizon League play
Tuesday, Sept. 13 - at Bowling Green (6-3, 0-0 MAC) - Bowling Green, Ohio - 6 p.m. CT
Sept. 16-17 - at Ball State Active Ankle Challenge - Muncie, Ind.
Friday, Sept. 16 - vs. #19 Ohio State (7-2, 0-0 Big Ten) - 11 a.m. CT
at Ball State (2-9, 0-0 MAC) - 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 17 - vs. UNC Greensboro (4-5, 0-0 Southern) - 3 p.m. CT
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: The Valparaiso University volleyball team will complete one final week of non-league competition before jumping into the Horizon League slate next weekend. The Crusaders will travel to Bowling Green for a mid-week match on Tuesday evening before heading to Muncie, Ind. for the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge this weekend, where they will face #19 Ohio State and UNC Greensboro in addition to the host Cardinals.
Previously: Valpo split four matches as it hosted the Popcorn Classic last weekend. The Crusaders swept SE Missouri State and South Dakota State, while falling in four sets to Central Michigan and Duquesne. CMU and Duquesne tied atop the tournament standings, as both teams finished the weekend 3-0.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders remain on the road next weekend to kick off Horizon League action. Valpo will travel to Green Bay for a Friday night match on Sept. 23 before playing at UIC the next afternoon.
Following the Crusaders: The Bowling Green and Ball State matches this week will be streamed live on ESPN3, and also are accessible via WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Live stats will be available for all four matches this week as well. Links for all the live coverage can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 15th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 345 matches (345-136) 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 400 career victories overall as a head coach, reaching the milestone last Saturday with the win over South Dakota State.
Series Notes: Bowling Green - Tuesday's match marks the fourth meeting all-time between the Crusaders and the Falcons, with BGSU winning all three prior matchups. Valpo fell at BGSU on Sept. 15, 2007 by a 3-2 final in the last meeting.
Ohio State - The Buckeyes have captured both previous meetings with the Crusaders, including most recently a three-set sweep on Sept. 21, 2013 in Buffalo, N.Y. Including this year's matchup, OSU has been nationally ranked in all three matchups.
Ball State - Valpo is just 1-8 all-time against the Cardinals, but just two of those contests have been played since 1990. The Crusaders swept BSU in 2004, while the Cardinals earned a three-set win over Valpo early in the 2011 season.
UNC Greensboro - First meeting.
Scouting the Opposition: Bowling Green - The Falcons enter Tuesday night's match with a 6-3 record on the year, most recently winning the EIU Panther Classic last weekend. BGSU is hitting at a .272 clip so far this year, paced by Jelena Sunjic, who is hitting .392 with 4.08 kills/set.
Ohio State - The nationally-ranked Buckeyes are 7-2 entering this weekend's tournament, going 2-1 last weekend at the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational at Missouri State - including a five-set win over Green Bay. Taylor Sandbothe is hitting a team-best .396 with 3.80 kills/set early this year and also paces the Buckeyes with 1.11 blocks/set.
Ball State - The Cardinals have struggled so far this season, owning just a 2-9 record entering this weekend, but are coming off back-to-back victories over Morehead State and Appalachian State.
UNC Greensboro - The Spartans are 4-5 thus far in 2016 and won the Spartan-Aggie Invitational last weekend with victories over Radford, North Carolina A&T and Hampton. Four different Greensboro players are averaging at least two kills per set, led by 3.78 kills/set from Ashley Muench.
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.
Avery Reaches 400: Posting at least 20 wins year after year, head coach Carin Avery reached the 400-win milestone for her career on Saturday afternoon with the Crusaders' win over South Dakota State. The program's all-time winningest head coach, Avery is one of just 51 active Division I head coaches with 400 career wins, and is one of just two (Bobbi Petersen - UNI) who currently own at least 400 career wins and have been a head coach for 17 seasons or fewer.
Longoria Digs Deep: Senior Morganne Longoria earned All-Tournament Team honors for the second straight weekend last week, representing the Crusaders on the Popcorn Classic All-Tournament Team. Longoria picked up 77 digs over the Crusaders’ four matches, averaging 5.50 digs/set. She tallied 29 digs Friday night versus Central Michigan - just one off her career high and a new personal best in a four-set match - and recorded 28 digs Saturday night against Duquesne. The senior also committed just one serve reception error on 65 attempts.
All-Tournament Honors: Longoria also earned All-Tournament honors the previous weekend at Troy, where she was joined by sophomore Lizzie Zaleski on the All-Tournament Team. Through the first three weekends of the year, four different Crusaders have received All-Tournament accolades, as senior Emily Campbell and junior Taylor Graboski represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team at the Black Knights Invitational.
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 week with 1,226 career kills, good for fifth in program history. Meanwhile, fellow senior Morganne Longoria owns 1,743 career digs entering this week to rank fourth in program history, just 144 digs shy of the third spot.