Valparaiso University junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) smashed her previous career best with 24 kills and the Crusaders earned their first Horizon League win in style Saturday in Chicago, rallying from two sets down to top UIC, 3-2 (19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-7).
How It Happened
- A big 9-0 mid-set run for the Flames gave them a six-point lead and control of the opening set.
- A four-point spurt by the Crusaders in the second set put them ahead briefly, 18-17, but UIC scored four of the next five points. While Valpo was able to fight back to tie the set at 23-all, the Flames posted back-to-back kills to win the second set and pull ahead, two sets to none.
- Graboski put the Crusaders on her back in the attacking game in the third set, tallying a remarkable 10 kills on 19 swings in that frame alone. The junior led the way as the Crusaders hit at a .419 clip for the set and ended it on an 11-4 run to force a fourth set.
- Valpo’s stellar offense continued in the fourth frame, as the Crusaders hit .394 with 16 kills. The set was tied at 15-all before Valpo again put together a big run, closing the frame by scoring 10 of the final 13 points to set up the decisive fifth set.
- The Crusaders wasted little time taking control of the final set, scoring the first five points – including a pair of blocks from sophomore Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) – to force UIC to use a timeout. The advantage would not drop below four points the rest of the way, and Valpo closed out the win on a kill by sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep).
Inside the Match
- Valpo earned its first five-set victory after trailing two sets to none since earning a come-from-behind win on the road at Wright State on Sept. 28, 2012.
- Graboski shattered her previous career best of 15 kills, which she had accomplished on multiple occasions. The junior’s 24 kills also were a Valpo season high, towering over the previous best this year of 18 kills.
- Graboski hit at a .378 clip as well, needing just 45 swings to tally her 24 kills. She was one of four Crusaders to hit .300 or better on Saturday, highlighted by six kills on 13 swings without an error (.462) from senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian).
- Senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) tied her career high with 12 kills while swinging at a .364 clip, while Carlson tied her career high with 16 kills and hit .306. The sophomore also tallied 14 digs for a double-double.
- Sophomore Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) picked up a double-double with 32 assists and 10 digs, while junior Tarrah Lasky (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) handed out 23 assists. The duo set the Crusader offense to a .290 hitting percentage as a team, just outside the program’s top-five marks all-time in a five-set match.
- The Crusaders tallied 11 total team blocks in the winning effort, led by six blocks from Bruinsma and five by Bronner.
The Crusaders (7-9, 1-1 Horizon) return home to the ARC next weekend to continue Horizon League play, starting off Friday evening at 6 p.m. versus Youngstown State. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for live video, audio and stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.