Valparaiso opened the 2009 Horizon League campaign on Friday
evening in Youngstown, Ohio the same way it closed the league slate
last year, sweeping the Penguins of Youngstown State (25-21, 25-19, 25-15).
“It was great to get
league play underway, and especially to start off with a win,” said Crusader
head coach Carin Avery. “It can be tough to get road wins in the
Horizon League, so anytime you end up winning on the road, it’s a good win for
The Crusaders have now
won 24 consecutive sets in Horizon League regular season action, dating back to
the second set against Milwaukee
on October 24 of last season. Valpo
utilized a tremendous advantage on the offensive side of the ball for the sweep
on Friday, outkilling the Penguins 49-28, led by a 19-kill performance on .455
hitting by sophomore right side Amy
Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North) and 11 kills on .556 hitting
from junior middle hitter Tara Diebler (Indianapolis,
“Amy just had a special
night tonight,” said Avery. “It was one
of those nights where she was on, not just in the front row attacking and
blocking, but also in the back serving and digging. She really put together an all-around
Groesbeck registered an
amazing 11 kills alone in the opening set, and Valpo would need every one of
them to stave off the homestanding Penguins.
YSU opened the match strong out of the gate, taking an early 5-1 lead
and holding the advantage most of the frame.
The Penguins held a 17-15 lead later in the set before Groesbeck
registered three kills and combined on a block with Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) during a 4-0 spurt to put
the Crusaders ahead 19-17.
Youngstown State came right back with three straight points to
re-gain the lead at 20-19, but Groesbeck would be the catalyst for a set-ending
run, bringing Valpo back into a tie for the lead with a kill. Angie
Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) then came up
with a kill of her own and Groesbeck followed with another termination to push
the lead to two points. Back-to-back
Penguin errors put the Crusaders in position to win the opening frame, and
fittingly it would be Groesbeck who ended the rally on Valpo’s second set point
opportunity with a kill.
Valparaiso led start to
finish in the second set, taking advantage of a set-opening 8-2 run on the back
of two kills by Layman, along with terminations by Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), Diebler and Groesbeck. The Penguins never got closer than two points
the remainder of the set, and when they pulled back within four points late in
the set at 18-14, Layman and Porché picked up kills followed by an Andrea Balsis (Benton Harbor, Mich./Coloma)
service ace to secure the set victory for the Crusaders.
YSU led briefly in the
final set, but a quick three-point spurt on a Britton kill, Balsis service ace
and a Penguin error gave the Crusaders a lead they would not relinquish at 6-4. Valpo slowly extended its lead out to 20-12
State put together three
straight points to gain some momentum and cut the Crusader edge to five
points. But after a Valpo timeout, it
came right back and scored the final five points, getting a kill and service
ace from Groesbeck during the match-ending run, while Diebler picked up both
the penultimate and clinching points on kills.
Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West) set up the Crusader offense all
night long, handing out 42 assists on the evening as Valpo hit .310 as a team,
the second time this season it has hit at better than a .300 clip. On the defensive side of the ball, Taylor Root (Jenison,
led all players with 17 digs, while Balsis far and away surpassed her previous
career best in the category, picking up 16 digs to go with a pair of service
“We really did a good job
with our block setup tonight,” said Avery.
“Our blockers were in good position all night long, and that allowed us
to get Taylor and Ann on the receiving end of a lot of digs to help transition
easily into our offense.”
Youngstown State (2-8, 0-2 Horizon) was led by 11 kills from Ruth
Boscaljon, but no other Penguin player tallied more than six terminations. Boscaljon also registered a match-best three
Valparaiso (6-4, 1-0 Horizon) heads an hour further east
on Saturday, traveling to Pittsburgh,
Pa. to take part in the Pitt Blue
and Gold Tournament. The Crusaders will
take on Maryland-Eastern
Shore at noon CDT before
facing the host Panthers at 4 p.m. Both
matches will be broadcast live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will
also have links for live stats for both matches.