This Week’s Action: Winners of five of its last six matches, Valparaiso kicks off the second half of Horizon League play on Friday evening as the Crusaders continue a six-match homestand by hosting in-state rival Butler.
Wrapping Up Last Week: In a key week around the Horizon League, Valpo went 2-1 in three league contests. The Crusaders kicked off the week with a sweep (25-21, 25-17, 25-22) at Wright State on Tuesday before falling at home to UIC, 3-2 (18-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-25, 19-17) on Saturday. Valpo ended the week on a high note with a 3-1 (26-28, 25-11, 25-21, 25-17) win over Loyola on Sunday.
The Matchup: Butler is 22-6 all-time against the Crusaders, but under Carin Avery, the Bulldogs have downed Valpo just once in five attempts. Unfortunately for this year’s Crusader squad, the lone Butler win came in the two teams’ first meeting of the 2008 season, as the Bulldogs swept Valpo (25-23, 25-21, 25-21) in Indianapolis on September 19.
Valpo was led in the match by Angie Porché, who picked up 13 kills on .243 hitting, but the junior was the only Crusader to finish the match with more than eight kills. Kim Bukowski handed out 22 assists and also registered five kills and five digs, while Brittany Malicoat led all players with 21 digs.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM - Valparaiso) will broadcast Friday’s showdown against the Bulldogs over its airwaves. Links to audio, video and live stats for the match will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
A Long Homestand: After spending the entire months of August/September playing road or neutral-site matches and playing one weekend at home before taking a mid-week trip to Wright State, the Crusaders kicked off a six-match homestand last weekend against UIC and Loyola. The six straight matches at home is the longest stretch at the ARC for the volleyball program since the 1999 squad played nine consecutive home matches.
Success at Home: The Crusaders have stood out on their home court at the Athletics-Recreation Center since Carin Avery’s ascension to the head coaching position prior to the 2002 season, and the beginning of this home campaign has been no exception. Valpo is now 61-13 (.824) at home under Avery, including wins in three of its first four home matches of the 2008 season.
Right There With the Best: Looking atop the latest NCAA statistical rankings, the nation’s unanimous #1 team in Penn State leads the collegiate ranks in both kills/set and assists/set. But the Crusaders rank right behind the Nittany Lions in both categories, entering this week with averages of 15.06 kills and 13.96 assists per set, ahead of national powers such as California, Hawaii, Michigan and Nebraska.
Offensive Dominance: When a team is ranked as highly as Valpo is in kills/set, it’s probably out-killing its opponent on most occasions, and this holds true for the Crusaders, who have posted less kills than their opponent just once this year (Indiana). Valpo has registered at least ten more kills than its opposition in 13 of its 18 matches, including each of the last six, and has tallied at least 20 more kills eight times.
Early Success: Coming into the 2008 season, the Crusaders knew they had a challenging pre-league slate ahead of them. Five teams that finished in the top-100 of the RPI in 2007 and two others which won at least 20 matches were on the schedule. But this year’s squad stepped up to the challenge, posting a 7-2 record in pre-league action, the best mark percentage-wise prior to the start of league play in Carin Avery’s seven years.
Tabbed Second: Valparaiso has been projected to finish second in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches. Cleveland State, last year’s tournament champion, was a unanimous selection to capture the league crown. Following the Crusaders were Milwaukee, UIC, and Butler. Youngstown State was placed sixth, while Wright State, Loyola and Green Bay rounded out the polling.
Know Your Rules: The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee and the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a number of rule changes prior to the 2008 season. The most visible of the rule changes will be the following:
- The term “game” will be changed to “set”
- Sets one through four will now be contested to 25 (previously 30) points
- The maximum number of substiutions will now be 12 (previously 15) per set
Moving Up the Charts: Junior outside hitter Angie Porché continues to rank among the nation’s leaders in kills/set. Porché posted 56 kills over 12 sets last week to maintain her average of 4.69 kills/set, good for seventh in the nation. She especially stood out on Sunday against Loyola, putting down 20 kills on a stellar .425 hitting percentage. The junior currently has 1,397 career kills, just eight shy of the third spot and 24 shy of the second spot on Valpo’s career chart in the category, and moved into second on the Crusader career attacks list last week. Porché has taken 3,458 swings over her two and a half seasons in the Valpo uniform, trailing only Lori Barton’s 3,802 attacks.
2K and Counting: Senior libero Brittany Malicoat became the first player in Horizon League history to reach the 2,000-dig plateau last week, reaching the milestone midway through the second set at Wright State. Malicoat, who currently ranks 11th in the nation with 5.18 digs/set, extended her streak of consecutive matches with at least ten digs to 69, the second-longest active streak and believed to be the third-longest streak in NCAA history. She also has been a stalwart on serve receive this year for Valpo, committing just ten reception errors on 399 attempts, good for an outstanding .975 reception percentage.
Weekend Warrior: Junior outside hitter Val Bollenbacher put together strong matches back-to-back last weekend for the Crusaders. Bollenbacher put down 16 kills on Saturday evening against UIC on .333 hitting and added 14 digs. She followed the next day with 17 kills in the win over Loyola, her second-highest output of the season offensively, and chipped in 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the 2008 campaign.
Crusaders Among League Leaders: Halfway through the Horizon League slate, the league-only numbers are beginning to take shape. Valpo has continued to stand out offensively, leading all teams in league-only action in hitting percentage (.203), kills/set (14.91) and assists/set (14.09). Individually, Porché leads all league athletes in kills/set (4.47) while also ranking tenth in hitting percentage (.242). Malicoat sits third in league play in digs/set (5.53) while Kim Bukowski leads in assists/set (11.59) and is tied for seventh in service aces/set (0.31).