Valparaiso (5-9, 0-0 MVC)
Friday, Sept. 27 - at Loyola (7-6, 0-0 MVC) - 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 30 - UNI (6-8, 0-0 MVC) - 6 p.m.
This Week in Valpo Volleyball: The Valpo volleyball team opens up Missouri Valley Conference action this weekend with its first two matches of the conference slate. Play begins Friday evening in Chicago with a matchup against travel partner Loyola before Valpo lifts the curtain on its home schedule Monday evening versus defending conference champion UNI. Monday's match will serve as the program's pediatric cancer awareness match.
Previously: Valpo posted a 1-2 record at its final early-season tournament of the year, defeating South Dakota State and falling to Kansas City and Milwaukee, and then fell in a rematch against Milwaukee to close non-conference play Tuesday evening.
Looking Ahead: Valpo faces its Indiana conference cohorts next weekend on the road, traveling to take on Evansville Friday night and Indiana State Saturday evening.
Following the Action: Every one of Valpo’s MVC matches will be broadcast live on The Valley on ESPN this season. Both of this week’s events will be carried on ESPN+. Live stats for both matches will also be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Carin Avery: In her 18th season as head coach at Valparaiso, Carin Avery has won 403 matches (403-187, .683) at the helm of the Crusaders 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 59 All-League recipients over her tenure at Valpo. She is Valpo’s all-time leader in both victories and winning percentage, and owns a 458-211 (.685) record overall as a head coach.
Series History: Loyola - The Ramblers own a 27-19 advantage in the all-time series, but Valpo has dominated the recent matchups in the series. In the six years the two programs shared conference affiliation in the Horizon League, Valpo was 10-2 against the Ramblers, and since joining the MVC, Valpo has won all four matchups. Last season, Valpo earned a pair of epic wins, rallying from down two sets to win 3-2 both at home and at Rogers Park. With Friday’s meeting, Loyola will become Valpo’s second-most common opponent all-time, trailing only UIC.
UNI - The Panthers have won all 11 meetings in the all-time series, including all five since Valpo joined the MVC. Last year, UNI and Valpo met on three occasions, with the Panthers winning 3-1 in Valpo, 3-2 in Cedar Falls and 3-1 in Springfield, Mo. at the MVC Tournament.
Scouting the Opposition: Loyola - The Ramblers enter Friday’s match at 7-6 on the season, including wins over Northwestern and DePaul last weekend. Three Ramblers are averaging between 2.92 and 3.02 kills per set, with Taylor Venuto hitting at a team-best .354 clip and also recording a team-high 1.11 blocks per set.
UNI - The Panthers enter MVC play with a 6-8 record, but six of their eight defeats have come against ranked opposition. UNI will host Evansville and Indiana State to open conference action before appearing at the ARC. Karlie Taylor leads the Panther offense, averaging a conference-best 4.73 kills/set.
Valpo Picked Seventh in Preseason Poll: In its third season of Missouri Valley Conference play, Valpo has been selected to finish in seventh place in the conference in 2019, acording to preseason polling of the conference’s head coaches. Valpo tallied 42 points in the polling, while UNI was a unanimous choice at the top, receiving all 10 first-place votes. Valpo has outperformed its preseason poll placement in each of its first two seasons in The Valley. In addition, junior Brittany Anderson was tabbed a preseason All-Conference selection.
Looking Back at 2018: Valpo enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history in 2018, winning 27 matches, tied for the second-most matches in program history. The Crusaders earned their first postseason berth since 2005 as they received an at-large bid to the NIVC, and took full advantage, winning a pair of matches to advance to the tournament quarterfinals - the first postseason victories in program history. Brittany Anderson earned First Team All-MVC honors, while Katherine Carlson was a Second Team selection.
What’s Back and What’s New: Valpo returns 10 letterwinners from last year’s 27-win squad, but is also replacing four starters from that team this season. Coach Avery welcomes a large contingent of newcomers as well, as nine new faces dot the Valpo roster this year - eight true freshmen and one senior transfer. In fact, the 19-player roster is not only the largest in Avery’s tenure, it is the largest in program history. It is also the largest roster among MVC teams this season.
Digging Deep: Each of the last two years has seen Valpo lead the nation in a digs category. Valpo led Division I in 2017 in digs/set nearly all season long, ending the year averaging 20.03 digs/set to lead the nation. Valpo’s 2017 campaign was only the second since the move to 25-point rally scoring in 2008 where a team averaged at least 20 digs/set, coming in behind only Penn’s 2012 season. Then last year, Valpo posted 2,613 digs to lead the country in total digs, setting not only a Valpo single-season record, but a Division I record in the 25-point rally scoring era. The Crusaders have a long tradition of strong defensive play, as they have ranked among the top-20 nationally in digs/set in each of the last nine seasons - including a sixth-place placement in 2015 and a fourth-place finish in 2010 in addition to 2017’s statistical championship.
Anderson Picks Up All-Tournament Honor: Junior setter Brittany Anderson received another award and moved up another spot on Valpo’s all-time assists chart last week. Anderson represented Valpo on the All-Tournament Team at South Dakota State, averaging 10.1 assists/set as Valpo recorded two of its three best hitting percentages of the season last weekend. The honor was the fourth All-Tournament Team of Anderson’s career. Midway through Valpo’s second match of the weekend, Anderson surpassed Katie Bova for fifth place in program history in career assists. She now owns 3,130 assists, but has a long way to go to get to fourth position - Kim Bukowski, with 3,543 career assists.
Bulmahn Continues Strong Stretch: Junior Jaclyn Bulmahn has stepped up on the attack recently for Valpo. After entering the season with a career high of nine kills, Bulmahn reached double figures in the category just once over the season’s first two weeks. But over the last two weeks, Bulmahn has tallied 10 or more kills in five of seven matches, highlighted by a career-high 12 kills on .480 hitting against DePaul. An All-Tournament Team selection at DePaul, Bulmahn enters this week coming off of back-to-back 10-kill efforts versus Milwaukee.
McCarthy Leads the Offense: Junior Peyton McCarthy continues to lead Valpo offensively this season, entering MVC play with team bests in kills/set (2.98) and hitting percentage (.289). McCarthy ranks sixth in the conference in hitting percentage and ninth in kills. Last weekend at South Dakota State, McCarthy posted double figures in kills in all three matches, highlighted by a 17-kill effort versus Kansas City. The junior recorded kills on at least half her swings in all three contests and now has six such matches this year.
Avery Reaches 400: Valpo head coach Carin Avery hit another milestone in her distinguished career on Aug. 31, picking up her 400th win at the helm of the Valpo program as Valpo closed its first weekend of action with a win against IUPUI. In her 18th season as head coach at Valpo, Avery is far and away Valpo’s all-time leader in victories, as second place has just 92 wins. In fact, Avery has more wins in her time at Valpo than all of the program’s other head coaches combined (301).