Valparaiso played a pair
of matches Saturday at the Pitt Blue and Gold Tournament on Saturday, sweeping
Maryland-Eastern Shore (25-12, 25-20, 25-20) before falling to the host
Panthers, 3-1 (19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-23).
The Crusaders never
trailed in any of the three sets against Maryland-Eastern Shore. The opening set easily went the Crusaders’
way, as Valpo put together an early 8-2 run, including three kills by Tara Diebler (Indianapolis,
Ind./Franklin Central) to pull ahead by six points, a deficit which the Hawks
would never be able to cut under five points as Valpo cruised to the win in the
Valpo led start to finish
as well in set two, but would not capture the second frame quite as easily, as
a late 4-1 spurt brought UMES back to within 22-20. But a kill by Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North) was followed by a block by Katie Britton (Mishawaka,
Ind./Marian) and Katie Layman (LaPorte,
Ind./New Prairie) to give the
Crusaders four set points, and they would need only one, as Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton
Fractional South) aced the Hawks to put Valpo ahead two sets.
The eventual final set
also stayed close throughout, as the Hawks earned a tie as late as 14-14 and
were still within two points at 20-18. A
Layman kill gave Valpo a three-point advantage, however, and following a UMES
error, Britton came up with a termination of her own to push the advantage to
five points. The Hawks would side out on
each of Valpo’s next two serves, but it was all for naught, as the Crusaders
responded in kind on kills by Groesbeck and Britton to wrap up the sweep.
Valparaiso only held a 39-33 advantage in the kills
department over Maryland-Eastern
Shore (8-4), but also
committed just 11 attack errors to the Hawks’ 18. Porché paced Valpo with ten kills on .364
hitting, while each of the Crusaders’ other four primary attackers all tallied
at least five kills. Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West)
handed out 28 assists running the Crusader offense.
Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison)
led all players with her 14 digs on the back line, while Andrea Balsis (Benton
also reached double digits in the category with ten digs of her own. Groesbeck and Layman each tied for match-high
honors with four blocks at the net.
Valparaiso continued its standout play in the opening set
against the host Panthers, turning a 16-15 deficit into a win in the opening
frame thanks to a set-ending 10-3 run which included a single kill from each of
Valpo’s five primary hitters, as well as Bukowski. But Pittsburgh
would rebound in the second set, not letting the Crusader lead after 7-6. Valpo cut the Panther advantage to 21-19
late, but Pitt scored the final four points of the set to tie the match up at
one set apiece.
The Crusaders looked like
they had the momentum late in the third frame, putting together a 4-1 run with
kills by Britton and Diebler, along with a Pitt error and a Balsis service ace,
to turn an 18-16 deficit into a 20-19 lead.
But the Panthers responded with the final six points of the set, getting
blocks on each of the final two points, to move one set away from the match
win. Valpo led for much of the first
half of the final set, but trailing 10-9, a 4-0 run gave Pitt the lead for
good, and despite kills by Diebler and Porché staving off the Panthers’ first
two match opportunities, the Panthers would close out the four-set win.
Valpo held its own
offensively against Pitt, putting down 56 kills on .278 hitting, but the
Panthers countered with 58 kills on .305 hitting. Porché again paced the Crusader offense,
tallying 17 kills while swinging at a .433 clip. Britton registered 13 kills of her own, while
Groesbeck picked up her first career double-double with ten kills and ten
digs. Root led all players with 18 digs,
while Layman led Valpo with three blocks.
Pittsburgh (6-6) was paced by 20 kills on .562 hitting by
Meagan Dooley, who also held match-high honors with seven blocks. Amy Town added 16 kills and six rejections,
while Imani Harper chipped in 11 kills and five blocks.
Valparaiso (7-5) kicks off the 2009 home campaign at the Athletics-Recreation Center with a pair of Horizon League
matches next weekend. The Crusaders will
host Wright State
on Friday night and Cleveland
State on Saturday night,
both matches taking place at 7 p.m. All
the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com
, which will
also have links for live stats, as well as live video through the Horizon