Valparaiso University volleyball head coach Carin Avery earned the 400th victory of her coaching career Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders defeated South Dakota State 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-15) in the Popcorn Classic at the Courts of NWI. Valpo fell in its tournament finale to Duquesne, 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 20-25, 25-17). The Crusaders were represented on the All-Tournament Team by senior libero Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington).
How It Happened – South Dakota State
- The Crusaders hit at a blistering .423 clip in the first set and were never challenged in taking the opener.
- Three kills from sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) keyed an 8-1 mid-set run which extended a one-point lead to eight points in the second set as the Crusaders went ahead two sets to none.
- Leading early on in the third set 8-7, Valpo put together an 10-1 run – including a pair of blocks and four other SDSU attack errors – to take control and go on to the sweep, giving Avery her 400th career win.
How It Happened – Duquesne
- The Dukes took the lead early in each of the first two sets and pulled away around the midway point of each frame in claiming the 2-0 advantage.
- Five different Crusaders picked up kills during an early 6-1 spurt in the third set to extend their lead to 10-4 – Valpo led by as many as eight points at multiple points during the set, and despite Duquesne scoring four straight late, received a solo block from sophomore Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) to move the match to a fourth set.
- Valpo held an early 7-6 advantage in the fourth set, but the Dukes scored eight of the next nine points and never trailed again in closing out a perfect weekend.
Inside the Game
- Avery is one of just 51 active Division I head coaches with at least 400 career victories. Only Avery and UNI’s Bobbi Petersen currently own 400 or more career wins and are in their 17th season or fewer as a collegiate head coach.
- Longoria earned All-Tournament Team accolades for the second straight week after picking up 77 digs over the Crusaders’ four matches, averaging 5.50 digs/set. After tallying 29 digs Friday versus Central Michigan, Longoria picked up 28 Saturday night against Duquesne. The senior also committed just one serve reception error on 65 attempts.
- It was a balanced offensive attack for the Crusaders in the win over SDSU, as Valpo hit .311 and committed just four total attack errors. Carlson led the way with 11 kills on .357 hitting and also set a career best with four blocks versus the Jackrabbits. The sophomore would match her career high with 20 digs Saturday night versus Duquesne.
- Senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) tallied eight kills on just 23 swings without a hitting error in the win over SDSU.
- Junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) and senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) each recorded five blocks in the victory over the Jackrabbits, leading a 12-block team effort in the sweep.
The Rest of the Kernels
- Duquesne defeated SE Missouri State in a five-set thriller Saturday morning (16-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-23, 15-12).
- Central Michigan closed out tournament play with a four-set win Saturday afternoon over SEMO (25-22, 24-26, 25-16, 25-21).
- Duquesne and Central Michigan tied for the tournament’s best record, as both teams went 3-0. The Crusaders went 2-2, while both SEMO and South Dakota State were 0-3 for the weekend.
- Co-MVPs Kathia Sanchez (Central Michigan) and Abbie Trzeciak (Duquesne) highlighted the All-Tournament Team. The pair were joined by Longoria, Krissa Gearring (SEMO), Makenzie Hennen (SDSU), Jordan Bueter (CMU) and Molly Davet (Duquesne).
The Crusaders (6-4) face their first non-tournament matchup of the season Tuesday evening as they will travel to take on Bowling Green. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links for the live video and live stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.