Valparaiso moved within one victory of returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year as the Crusaders defeated IUPUI 30-18, 31-33, 30-22, 30-21 in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday evening in Tulsa, Okla.
The top-seeded Crusaders won their eighth consecutive match and 22nd in their last 23 outings.
Valpo was led offensively by Jessi Novak (Antigo, Wis./Antigo H.S.) who tallied 15 kills, while adding 19 digs on the defensive end of the floor. Amy Palash (Winfield, Ill./Saint Francis H.S.) added 14 kills while hitting .343 and registered a team-high 25 digs. Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) added 13 kills and six blocks.
Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) dished out 50 assists while chipping in eight kills, six blocks, and 18 digs to just miss a triple-double. Jessie Fox (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) had ten kills and seven blocks, while Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.) had a match-high 11 blocks.
Tracy Bailey and Katie Hahn had 13 kills each for the Jaguars, while Erin Jones had a match-high 27 digs.
Valpo hit .217 for the contest, while holding IUPUI (15-17) to just .087 hitting. The Crusaders outblocked the Jaguars 19-7 and held a 106-99 advantage in digs.
With the victory, Valpo set a school record with their 28th victory of the season, improving to 28-4 overall. The Crusaders will look for win number 29 on Saturday afternoon, as the Brown and Gold faces tournament host and the second seed, Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles were 30-26, 30-22, 26-30, 30-24 victors over Western Illinois in the other semifinal. The match will begin at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and www.valpo.edu/athletics. The winner receives the Mid-Con's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.