The Valparaiso University volleyball team finished out its 2016 home schedule at the ARC on Wednesday evening with a key 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22) victory over Oakland in Horizon League play. Playing in her final home match, senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) set a new career high with 16 kills.
How It Happened
- Valpo’s offense shone in the opening set, as the Crusaders hit .317 with 17 kills. Oakland closed to within 17-15, but the Crusaders responded with three straight points, and then again after the Golden Grizzlies moved to within 20-17, it was three straight Valpo points – including back-to-back kills by junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) as the Crusaders maintained control of the opener.
- The second set proved to be the tightest of the match, featuring 12 ties and six lead changes. Trailing by one at 17-16, the Crusaders rattled off three straight points – capped by a service ace from senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) – to pull ahead 19-17.
- The teams traded sideouts on the next seven points before an Oakland kill evened up the set at 22-22. Sophomore Kayla Currier (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) picked up a kill, but a service error made it 23-all. The senior Campbell stepped up at that point, recording back-to-back kills to close out the set and give Valpo a 2-0 lead.
- The third set went Oakland’s way, as the Golden Grizzlies hit .400 with 16 kills to move to within 2-1. Valpo was actually down just one point at the halfway point, trailing 13-12, but Oakland scored 12 of the frame’s final 17 points.
- Oakland controlled the early portions of the first set and led just past the halfway mark, 13-10, but the Crusaders scored five straight points – including two kills by Lacheta and capped by a solo block by senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) – to go ahead at the media timeout, 15-13.
- The Crusaders would never trail again, and with Oakland within one at 18-17, scored five of the next six points to take a 23-18 lead. Oakland responded with a 4-1 spurt to close to within 24-22, but on its third match point chance, Valpo converted thanks to a kill from Lacheta to close out the win.
Inside the Match
- Lacheta reached double figures for the sixth time this season and ended the match with a career high, posting 16 kills on .333 hitting. The senior recorded six kills apiece in the second and fourth sets.
- Campbell paced Valpo with 17 kills on .366 hitting, committing just two attack errors in posting her best hitting percentage of the year. She also registered 13 digs for her seventh double-double of the year.
- With 1,395 career kills, Campbell is now just nine kills away from fourth in Crusader history and only 26 kills out of third position.
- Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led all players with 30 digs, her fourth effort of at least 30 digs this season. Also setting the majority of the time, Longoria recorded 23 assists – finishing with her fourth 20-20 effort in the last eight matches.
- With her 30 digs on Wednesday, Longoria has tallied 625 on the season. Her effort against the Golden Grizzlies leapfrogged her two more spots on Valpo’s single-season chart, as she now ranks sixth in a season in program history.
- Freshman Alana Brown (Napa, Calif./Vintage) approached a double-double with her work in the back row, registering nine digs and a career-best eight assists.
- Six Valpo seniors played in their final career match at the ARC on Wednesday evening, including Campbell, Lacheta and Longoria. Also playing their final home match were Bruinsma, who recorded two kills, two service aces and the key solo block in the fourth set, Tarrah Lasky (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), who finished with eight assists, and Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central), who tallied seven assists and four digs.
Thoughts From Head Coach Carin Avery
“I thought it was a really evenly matched contest tonight. We were able to win big points at the end of sets two and four, when the score was close. When we needed a big kill or block, we were able to stay aggressive and get the point when we needed it.”
“Morganne was great again for us tonight. She is touching the ball so many times in this system, and was outstanding – both passing when she took the first ball, and in setting up our hitters.”
“I just love the fact that our pin hitters are embracing the system. They’re really swinging aggressively while also being smart. They’re starting to try different things on the attack that we've had a chance to work on in practice over the last few weeks.”
“I also give a lot of credit to our middles. This system is tough for them because they know they're not getting to get set much on offense. They’ve really done a great job staying focused and staying engaged on defense, knowing that side of the game is where they’re going to make a big contribution to our wins.”
The Crusaders (15-17, 6-9 Horizon) close out the regular season Saturday afternoon at Milwaukee with a 4 p.m. first serve. The match can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for the live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Valpo has nearly secured a berth in the Horizon League Championship. A win on Saturday would assure the Crusaders a spot in the tournament, while one loss by Wright State or a pair of UIC victories this weekend would also clinch Valpo’s berth.