The Valparaiso University volleyball team split two matches on the first of two days of action in the Popcorn Classic on Friday. The Crusaders swept SE Missouri State (25-19, 25-19, 25-19) in the early afternoon at the ARC, but fell Friday night at the Courts of NWI to Central Michigan in four sets (25-22, 20-25, 25-17, 25-13).
How It Happened – SE Missouri State
- The Crusaders jumped out to a 7-1 lead versus SEMO in the opening set, but the Redhawks rallied to regain the lead at 11-10. The two squads were tied at 14-all before an 8-1 run – including two kills each from sophomores Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) and Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) – put Valpo in control.
- Valpo trailed 18-16 approaching the late stages of the second set, but flipped the script on SEMO to close out with a 9-1 run to take the second frame. The Crusaders had five blocks in the second set and closed with four consecutive kills, including three straight by junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky).
- Another big mid-set run gave Valpo the edge in the third set, as trailing 15-13, the Crusaders scored eight of the next nine points – featuring three kills by sophomore Kayla Currier (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) – and SEMO got no closer than three points the rest of the way.
How It Happened – Central Michigan
- The Chippewas hit .388 with 22 kills in the opening set as Valpo never led – the Crusaders pulled within two points on a couple occasions late, but could get no closer.
- Back-to-back service aces from junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) pushed Valpo’s lead early in the second set to 11-5 and the Crusaders never surrendered the lead, closing the set with three consecutive points to even the match.
- A 6-0 run for CMU extended a three-point lead to nine points at 15-6 midway through the third set and the Crusaders couldn’t put together a run of their own to respond.
- For the second straight set, CMU posted a 6-0 run around the midway point, going ahead 15-9. The Chippewas closed the match scoring eight of the final nine points.
Inside the Game
- Sophomore Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) finished with two more double-doubles on Friday, posting 33 assists and 13 digs versus SEMO and 10 digs and a career-high tying 38 assists against Central Michigan. Her 13 digs in the opener led all Crusaders.
- Graboski and Carlson tied for team-high honors in the win over the Redhawks with 10 kills apiece, Graboski doing so while hitting at a .308 clip. The junior added 10 more kills in the nightcap as well.
- Senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) set a new career high with a team-best 12 kills against Central Michigan.
- Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) came up just one dig shy of her career best, recording 29 digs versus CMU. The 29 digs also marked the best effort of her career in a four-set match.
- Central Michigan swept South Dakota State in the first match of the tournament (25-10, 25-19, 25-17).
- Duquesne claimed a three-set victory in the early evening over South Dakota State (25-21, 25-16, 25-18).
The Crusaders (5-3) conclude their hosting of the Popcorn Classic on Saturday. All four tournament matches will be played at the Courts of NWI with live stats available for all four matches. Valpo will face South Dakota State at 12:30 p.m. and Duquesne at 7 p.m.