The Valparaiso University volleyball team found itself two points away from victory in its Horizon League home opener Friday evening at the ARC versus Youngstown State, but the Penguins put together a run to claim the fourth set and then took control in the fifth set to deal the Crusaders a 3-2 (25-17, 16-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13) defeat.
How It Happened
- The first set was all about the Penguins’ offense, as YSU hit .500 with 15 kills in the opener to take the early advantage.
- Valpo flipped the script in the second set, however, hitting .407 while limiting the Penguins to .027 hitting. The Crusaders never trailed in evening up the match at one set apiece.
- Out of the intermission, it was all Valpo, as the Crusaders jumped out to a 15-6 lead. YSU would rally and close the lead down to three points at 21-18, but Valpo scored the last four points of the frame – including an ace by Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) – to pull ahead two sets to one.
- Valpo looked to close out a victory in the fourth set, never trailing from the outset and stringing together three consecutive points late to go ahead 23-19. But the Penguins scored three straight points to close within one and force a timeout, but the stoppage failed to slow YSU’s momentum, as it ended the set on a 6-0 run to move the match to the fifth set.
- YSU led early in the fifth set, but three points in a row for the Crusaders gave them a 6-4 lead and the lead was again two at 8-6 at the changeover. But YSU would score six of the next seven points to go ahead 12-9, and while the Crusaders were able to pull back within one point twice, they were never able to even the set as the Penguins closed out the match on a Valpo error.
Inside the Match
- Avoiding errors was at a premium Friday night, as the two teams combined for 57 attack errors – only 19 of which were blocks. Neither side hit better than .130 in the five-set affair.
- The two teams also combined for 22 service errors – 16 of which were committed by the Penguins – and six ball-handling errors.
- Junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) led Valpo with 12 kills, while sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) added 10 kills.
- The Crusaders held a 96-88 advantage on the back line in digs over the Penguins in a total team effort, as six Valpo players finished in double figures in the category. Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led the way with 18 digs, moving within 16 digs of third place in program history.
- Senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) made her return to the Crusader lineup Friday, having been sidelined since Sept. 9 due to injury. Campbell posted 17 digs and nine kills in her return.
- Bruinsma posted 11 digs and was in on four of the Crusaders’ six team blocks.
The Crusaders (7-10, 1-2 Horizon) return to action at the ARC Saturday afternoon as they host Cleveland State at 4 p.m. The match can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Saturday’s match will also serve as the program’s TOCO fundraiser match, as they will collect donations throughout the night.