The Valparaiso University volleyball team put together a strong match Tuesday evening in Chicago, Ill. to earn a Horizon League road sweep of UIC (25-15, 25-19, 25-20).
“It was a great all-around effort tonight,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “I’m proud of our mental focus coming off of a tough loss on Saturday. Tuesday matches are tough, and I’m proud of our effort.”
After hitting .338 against the Flames in a 3-1 win earlier this season at the ARC, the Crusaders stepped it up a notch on Tuesday, swinging at a .356 clip in the sweep – the team’s second-best hitting percentage of the year. Junior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) led the way with a match-high 16 kills on .400 hitting, her second .400 hitting performance against UIC this season. In the process, Campbell surpassed Carrie Goodrich for 10th on Valpo’s career kills chart, and with 1,090 career kills, the junior is just nine shy of eighth place in Crusader history.
Campbell had plenty of help offensively on Tuesday, though, as despite playing just three sets, four different Crusaders finished in double figures in the kills category. Sophomores Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) both posted 11 kills, with Graboski doing so on a .529 hitting percentage – the best single-match hitting percentage of her career. Redshirt freshman Kayla Currier (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) added 10 kills on just 19 swings, her fourth double-digit tally in kills this season.
Senior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) handed out 44 assists on the evening as the Crusaders hit better than .300 for the ninth time this year. In the back row, junior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led all players with 14 digs, while Campbell and Ketcham tallied 12 and 11 digs, respectively, to end the evening with double-doubles.
The opening set was never close, as the Crusaders ran out to a quick 7-2 lead and never looked back, hitting .412 with 17 kills in the opener versus just nine kills on .088 hitting for the Flames. Graboski registered six kills on her own in the opening frame as Valpo jumped ahead.
Valpo led throughout most of the second set, but by a narrow margin, until the Crusaders strung together four straight points to turn a 20-18 edge into a six-point lead. A UIC error eventually sent Valpo into the in-game break up two sets to none. The Crusaders then led all the way in the third set, but were forced to use a timeout after a 23-17 lead was cut to 23-20. Out of the break, though, a UIC service error gave Valpo match point, and Currier took full advantage of an overpass to tally her 10th kill and close out the sweep.
Stephenee Yancy led UIC (12-13, 5-6 Horizon) with 15 kills, but she was the only Flame to tally more than six kills on the night. Bridget Powell paced UIC with 12 digs in the losing effort.
Valparaiso (21-6, 7-4 Horizon) looks to make it back-to-back road victories Saturday night as the Crusaders head to Michigan to face Oakland. Match time is slated for 6 p.m. CT, with the match scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3.com. Live stats will also be available via ValpoAthletics.com.