Valparaiso’s eight-match winning streak to open the 2013 campaign came to an end Friday afternoon in Evansville, Ind., as the Crusaders fell 3-0 (25-21, 30-28, 25-18) to Memphis in the opening match of Evansville’s tournament.
The Crusaders found themselves facing a large deficit early, falling behind 6-1 in the opening set. After fighting back to within one point at 8-7, a four-point Tiger spurt pushed the Memphis edge back to five points. Still trailing by five points at 16-11, Valpo went on a 6-1 run to tie things up at 17-all, a run which featured two kills apiece from senior Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis./Little Chute) and redshirt junior Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport).
Memphis scored the next two points, but Valpo responded with four of the next five, including a trio of kills, the last of which came from junior Morgan Beil (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) to give the Crusaders a 21-20 advantage. But the Tigers seized momentum at the end of the frame, scoring the final five points of the set to claim the opener.
The second set proved to be a set of runs early, as Valpo ran out to an early 8-3 edge thanks in part to two kills and a service ace from freshman Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central). But the Tigers would erase the lead entirely thanks to an 8-3 spurt of their own to tie it at 11-all.
The Crusaders pulled ahead by three points a number of times in the middle stages, the latest coming at 17-14, but Memphis responded with nine of the next 12 points to go ahead by a 23-20 score. Valpo would not fold, though, scoring the next four points, including kills by Vanden Berg and senior Sarah Dooms (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), to earn set point at 24-23.
The Tigers fought off the first set point with a kill, but another termination by Vanden Berg gave Valpo another chance at 25-24. A service error tied the set again, but again it was the senior middle with a kill to make it 26-25 Crusaders. Memphis answered with back-to-back kills to earn its first set point chance at 27-26 before Vanden Berg tallied yet another kill, and another kill by Dooms made it 28-27 Crusaders and gave them a fourth chance to take the set. Memphis would score the final three points, however, to go ahead by two sets.
Valpo got off on the right foot to the third set, as a pair of kills from Beil and a service ace by sophomore Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) gave the Crusaders an early 5-1 lead. Memphis scored nine straight points, though, going ahead by a 10-5 score, and Valpo got no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Vanden Berg would tally a match-high 12 kills on .286 hitting, but was the only Crusader to reach double figures in the category. Berrington handed out a team-high 19 assists, while Dooms and freshman Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) tied for team-high honors with 13 digs each. Vanden Berg and Victor were each in on four of Valpo’s seven team blocks.
Viktorija Teivane led Memphis (5-2) with 11 kills, while two other Tigers ended with 10 kills each. Katie Meyer tallied a match-best six blocks as Memphis ended the night with 11 team blocks.
Valparaiso (8-1) looks to get back on the winning track with a pair of matches on Saturday. The Crusaders will face SIU Edwardsville at 10 a.m. before taking on the host Purple Aces in the tournament finale at 6 p.m. Live stats for both matches will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.