Valparaiso (6-8, 0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders kick off Horizon League play on the road
Friday, Sept. 23 - at Green Bay (8-4, 0-0 Horizon) - Green Bay, Wis. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24 - at UIC (12-2, 0-0 Horizon) - Chicago, Ill. - 4 p.m.
This Week in Crusader Volleyball: Following an injury-riddled early-season slate, the Valparaiso University volleyball team looks to get back on track as Horizon League play opens this weekend. The Crusaders will start the league season on the road, with matches Friday evening at Green Bay and Saturday afternoon at UIC.
Previously: Valpo fell in a mid-week match last week at Bowling Green and then closed out pre-league play at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge, dropping matches to #19 Ohio State, Ball State and UNC Greensboro.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders return home to the ARC next weekend, as they host Youngstown State on Friday night and Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon.
Following the Crusaders: The UIC match will be streamed live on ESPN3, and also is accessible via WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Live stats will be available for both 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 (345-140) 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 with the win over South Dakota State Sept. 10.
Series Notes: Green Bay - Valpo owns a 24-11 advantage in the all-time series with the Phoenix, including a 15-5 mark since joining the Horizon League. Last season, the two squads split their matchups, as each team swept the other on the road.
UIC - The Crusaders enjoy a 29-24 edge in the all-time series against the Flames, but have dominated the series since joining the Horizon League, winning 17 out of 21 matchups. 2015 saw Valpo claim victories in both meetings, as the Crusaders won in four sets at the ARC and then swept the Flames in Chicago.
Scouting the Opposition: Green Bay - The Phoenix enter Friday night's match at 8-4 this year and won six consecutive matches to start the season. Junior Lydia DeWeese has dominated on both sides of the ball, hitting .387 while averaging team bests of 2.93 kills and 1.59 blocks per set.
UIC - The Flames got out to their best start in program history, winning their first 10 matches of the year, and currently sit at 12-2 entering Horizon League play. UIC will face Wright State Friday evening before taking on the Crusaders. Senior Alyssa Ehrhardt and fifth-year senior Kelsie Groot are averaging 3.70 and 3.48 kills per set, respectively.
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 returned in 2016 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 welcomed 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 Sept. 10 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.
League Success: The Crusaders are looking to maintain their tradition of being one of the top squads in the Horizon League in 2016. Valpo has finished among the top-four in the league every season since joining the league prior to the 2007 campaign, including four second-place finishes in the last eight seasons. In addition, the Crusaders are the only team to progress to at least the league tournament semifinals each season since they joined the league, including four appearances in the league title match. Valpo owns a .667 (92-46) winning percentage in Horizon League play since 2007.
Big Dig Totals: A number of Crusaders contributed to the team's highest effort this season in the digs column last time out against UNC Greensboro, as four players finished in double figures as the team posted 97 digs. Senior Morganne Longoria finished with 30 digs to lead all players and match her career high in the category. Meanwhile, junior Allison Ketcham recorded 21 digs - her second straight match with 21 digs after posting the same the previous night against Ball State - and now owns 14 career matches with 20 or more digs.
All-Tournament Honors: Junior Taylor Graboski was named to the All-Tournament Team last weekend at Ball State as the Crusaders wrapped up their early-season tournament schedule, one of four Valpo players to earn All-Tournament honors this year. Senior Morganne Longoria earned All-Tournament accolades both at Valpo and at Troy, while sophomore Lizzie Zaleski joined Longoria on the All-Tournament Team at Troy. The opening weekend of play saw both Graboski and senior Emily Campbell represent the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team at Army West Point's 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 currently owns 1,226 career kills, good for fifth in program history. Meanwhile, fellow senior Morganne Longoria enters this week with 1,801 career digs entering this week to rank fourth in program history, just 86 digs shy of the third spot.