Valparaiso University senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) tied her career high for digs as the Crusaders stepped out of league play and earned a 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-21) sweep at former Mid-Con rival Western Illinois Tuesday evening.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders dominated the opening set against the Leathernecks on Tuesday night, as WIU hit at a -.094 clip. A big run early gave Valpo control, as the Crusaders extended a 5-4 lead to a 19-6 lead thanks to a 14-2 run.
- The second set did not come nearly as easily to Valpo, as the Leathernecks led for most of the second half of the set. The WIU lead was 23-20 late before back-to-back kills from junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) cut the Leatherneck lead to one point.
- WIU gained set point with a kill to make it 24-22, but another kill by Graboski and a block from Graboski and senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) forced extra points. The Crusaders then went right back to what was working, going back to Graboski for two more kills to complete the comeback and go into the intermission up two sets.
- Valpo led start to finish in the final set, but could not pull away, as the Leathernecks stayed within striking distance and actually tied the set at 18-18. The Crusaders responded with a 5-1 run, which included three kills from sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep), to go ahead 23-19, and scored the final two points after WIU cut the lead to 23-21 – the final coming on another block from Graboski and Bruinsma.
Inside the Match
- Longoria reached 30 digs for the fourth time in her career, but did so for the first time in just three sets. The senior picked up six digs in the first set and nine in the second set before keeping rallies alive with 15 digs in the third and final set alone.
- Longoria’s 30-dig effort in a sweep is tied for the fourth-best effort in a three-set match in program history. Only Taylor Root has recorded more digs in a three-set match all-time at Valpo.
- Longoria will enter this weekend’s action just 74 digs shy of becoming the third libero in Crusader history to reach the milestone of 2,000 career digs.
- Graboski and Carlson led the way offensively for a Crusader squad which is still short four hitters up front. Graboski recorded 16 kills – the second-best effort of her career – on .273 hitting, while Carlson tallied 12 kills on .263 hitting.
- Graboski also tallied a career best in digs on Tuesday, picking up 10 digs to finish with her first career double-double.
- Sophomore Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) recorded another double-double on Tuesday, posting 31 assists and 11 digs.
- In just three sets on Tuesday, the Crusaders totaled 10 team blocks – led by six blocks from Bruinsma, five by Graboski and four from sophomore Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth).
The Crusaders (8-11) return to Horizon League play this weekend with the southern swing in league action. This weekend’s road trip begins at Northern Kentucky Friday evening at 6 p.m. CT, and can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links for the live video and live stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.