The Valparaiso volleyball team twice had to rally from one-set deficits on Friday evening, but ultimately got the job done in five sets, downing host Chattanooga 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22, 16-14) to open the Chattanooga Classic.
Junior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) led four Crusaders in double figures in kills on Friday, posting 19 kills on .276 hitting to open the season. Sophomores Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) each tallied 14 kills offensively, while redshirt freshman Kayla Currier (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) contributed 10 kills in her Crusader debut.
Both Campbell and Ketcham ended the evening with double-doubles, posting 15 and 16 digs, respectively, on the defensive side of the ball. Senior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) also finished the night with a double-double as she tallied 48 assists and 16 digs. Junior libero Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led all players on Friday with 23 digs.
Chattanooga won the first and third sets by wide margins, but Valpo was able to take the second and fourth sets to force the match to a decisive fifth frame. Even at 23-all in the second set, Campbell and Graboski tallied back-to-back kills to give the Crusaders that set, while leading 22-21 in the fourth frame, Valpo claimed three of the final four points – including two kills from Campbell – to even the match at 2-2.
The fifth set saw Chattanooga get out to a 5-2 lead before the Crusaders rallied with four consecutive points to make the final frame a tight contest. With the set tied at 12-12, a Mocs error was followed by a kill from Graboski to give Valpo two match points at 14-12. UTC scored the next two points to send the final set to extra points, but Graboski then stepped up with back-to-back kills to close out the Crusader win.
“Sometimes you win matches you feel you shouldn’t, and tonight was one of those nights,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We got outplayed tonight, statistically, in every category – but ultimately that didn’t matter, as we got the win. We have to deal with a quick turnaround now tomorrow.”
Valparaiso (1-0) closes out the Chattanooga Classic on Saturday with a pair of matches. The Crusaders will take on Eastern Kentucky at 9 a.m. CT before facing Troy at 3:30 p.m. Both matches will have live stats and video available through ValpoAthletics.com.