VALPARAISO (27-7, 13-1 Mid-Con) vs. #9 NEBRASKA (26-4, 17-3 Big 12)
WHAT: NCAA Tournament First Round
WHEN: Friday, December 5, 2003, 4 p.m. CST.
WHERE: Jenison Field House (5,017), East Lansing, Mich.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. JR Radcliffe will handle the play-by-play, while Ken LaVicka will provide color commentary. The match will also be broadcast on the internet at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Carin Avery, who is in her 4th season of coaching, and 2nd with the Crusaders. She is 102-41 overall, and 47-17 at Valpo. Nebraska is led by John Cook who is 281-81 overall in his 11th season overall and 122-8.
SERIES RECORD WITH NEBRASKA: This marks the first-ever meeting for Valpo against the Cornhuskers.
HOW THEY GOT IN THE TOURNAMENT: Valparaiso earned an automatic bid from the Mid-Continent Conference after winning the conference tournament. The Crusaders defeated Oral Roberts 30-27, 30-25, 19-30, 22-30, 15-13 in the championship. Nebraska earned an at-large bid out of the Big 12 Conference.
Valparaiso University will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday afternoon in the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in volleyball. The Crusaders won the Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament championships, and set a new school record for victories in a season with 27 this year.
NORMAN EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONOR: Cyndi Norman was named to the 2003 CoSIDA Academic All-District V Second Team. A biology and psychology major, she has also led the Crusaders as a setter over the past four seasons. She ranks second in Valpo history with 4,860 assists, and is third in Mid-Continent Conference history. She needs 131 assists to become Valpo's all-time assist leader.
FOUR EARN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: Valpo has had its share of Mid-Continent Conference First Team All-Conference selections recognized at the league's banquet on November 20. Cyndi Norman, the Setter of the Year and Sara Silcox, the Libero of the Year, joined teammates Liz Mikos and Lauren Moulton on the league's top team. Carin Avery also earned Coach of the Year accolades.
MIKOS SECOND IN THE NATION IN BLOCKS: Valpo sophomore Liz Mikos currently is second in the country in blocks per game. Her 1.79 blocks per game ranks just behind Lauren Brewster of Notre Dame, who has posted 1.81 blocks per game.
AVERY HAS BABY BOY: Head coach Carin Avery missed Valpo's semifinal match with UMKC after giving birth to her first child, Alex Roddy Avery, on November 20, the same day Avery was named Coach of the Year. Avery listened to the semifinals on the internet from the hospital, before checking out on Saturday afternoon and arriving at Valpo just prior to the championship match, enabling her to be on the bench for the Crusader win.
NORMAN AMONG MID-CON ELITE: Cyndi Norman ranks second on Valpo's career assist chart with 4,860. She is 131 helpers shy of Stephanie Schuricht's mark of 4,991 set from 1992-1995. Schuricht holds the Mid-Continent Conference mark as well, while Norman is third all-time in conference history.
CRUSADERS RANKED IN NATIONAL CATEGORIES: Valpo ranks among volleyball's national elite in a pair of defensive categories. The Crusaders are 13th in the nation in digs per game with 18.92, while ranking 19th in the country in blocks per game with 2.99. Valpo's winning percentage of .794 is 29th best in Division I.
NORMAN TOURNAMENT MVP, THREE NAMED TO ALL-TOURNEY TEAM: Senior setter Cyndi Norman was named the Most Valuable Player of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament, while Liz Mikos and Michelle Robinson each joined Norman on the All-Tournament Team.
VALPO EARNS SEVEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS IN 2003: Valpo was well-represented by the Mid-Continent Conference when the league handed out weekly honors this fall. Cyndi Norman earned Offensive Player of the Week honors twice (Sept. 8 and Oct. 13), while Sara Silcox (Sept. 15 and Nov. 3) and Liz Mikos (Sept. 2 and Nov. 10) each earned the Defensive Player of the Week award twice. Lauren Moulton also earned the offensive accolade on Nov. 10 for the Brown and Gold.
MIKOS AND MOULTON BLOCK THEIR WAY INTO RECORD BOOKS: Liz Mikos and Lauren Moulton are having standout years blocking at the net. Mikos has shattered the school's single season total block record with 193 on the season, while also topping the old school mark of 43 solo rejections with 46 this season. Moulton is tied for second in a season with 126 total blocks on the season, tying the old mark set prior to Mikos.
SILCOX SETS DIGS RECORD: Sara Silcox has set a new Valpo single season dig record after posting 532 this season, surpassing Karen Kulick's 1991 mark of 529. Silcox also ranks 18th in the nation with 4.59 digs per game this year.
HANSEN JOINS 1,000/1,000 CLUB: Senior Marion Hansen has joined the elite 1,000/1,000 club for her career after recording 1,041 kills and 1,387 digs during her four years wearing the Brown and Gold.
AVERY EARNS 100th CAREER WIN: Head coach Carin Avery earned her 100th career victory on November 14 in Valpo's 3-0 victory over Oakland. The match was her final contest prior to having her first child. Avery's career mark now stands at 102-41 in four years, two at Valpo and two at Southern California College (now known as Vangard University).
VALPO PERFECT ON NEUTRAL FLOORS THIS SEASON: The Crusaders have posted a perfect 6-0 record thus far this season on neutral courts. Valpo won three neutral site matches at the Titan Classic in Fullerton, Calif. and a pair at the NIU Invitational hosted by Northern Illinois. The Brown and Gold also downed Central Michigan in the Michigan/Nike Challenge.
VOLLEYBALL IN DECEMBER: Valpo's match against Nebraska will mark the latest the Crusaders have ever competed. The latest Valpo has played prior to this was November 29 when the Crusaders fell 3-1 at Southeast Missouri State in an NCAA Play-in game.
VALPO IN PLAY-INS: Valparaiso had three opportunities from 1994-1996 to earn NCAA Tournament berths, but failed all three times in play-in games. Valpo lost at Idaho in 1994, at Northern Iowa in 1995, and at Southeast Missouri State in 1996.
DOWN THE ROAD: The winner of the Valpo/Nebraska match will take on the victor of the second match to be played on Friday evening between host Michigan State and Dayton. The Second Round contest will take place on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., beginning at 7 p.m. CST. The winner of the Second Round contest will head to the Sweet Sixteen, with the regional to be held in Lincoln, Neb.
NEBRASKA NOTES: Nebraska is competing in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time. The Cornhuskers are 16-1 all-time in First Round action and 9-1 in Second Round competition. Nebraska has also won a pair of national championships.
The Cornhuskers enter this year's tournament as the #9 national seed. Ranked tenth in the nation by the AVCA, Nebraska has won nine of its last ten matches entering the tournament and finished in second place in the Big 12 Conference this season.
Melissa Elmer leads the Cornhuskers offensively, hitting at a .356 clip. The sophomore is averaging 3.05 kills per game, along with 1.63 blocks per game. Jennifer Saleauma leads the team in digs per game with 3.86, while adding 3.24 kills per game.
As a team Nebraska won 18 matches in three-games this year, and three of their four defeats came in five-game matches. Three of their losses came to nationally-ranked opponents.