In a record-setting defensive display, the top-seeded Valparaiso University volleyball team rolled past fourth-seed IUPUI and into a third straight Mid-Continent Conference Championship game, winning 30-23, 30-22, 30-21 in Saturday night's semi-final match at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Junior Jessie Fox
(Granger, Ind./Penn) set a Mid-Con tournament record with 11 blocks, leading a tourney-record 14-block effort from the Crusader defense. Fox's 11 blocks tie fellow Crusaders Kelly Schoenhoft, Lauren Moulton
(Elgin, Ill./Larkin) and Liz Mikos
(Dundee, Ill./Jacobs) on the Mid-Con charts. The stifling Valpo defense held IUPUI to a .058 hitting percentage, and forced First Team All-Conference selection Tracy Bailey into eight attack errors and a -.107 hitting mark.
Offensively, it was the Crusaders' all-time leading blocker, Mikos, who led the charge with a team-high11 kills and a .391 hitting percentage. Senior Jessi Novak
(Antigo, Wis./Antigo) and Moulton each had nine kills, while Moulton added six blocks to the defense. Fox had a strong night of her own with eight kills.
In addition to the solid defensive play up front, All-Freshman selection Brittany Marks
(Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) had a night to remember, tallying a career-high 23 digs from the libero position.
The win followed second-seeded Oral Roberts' exciting four-game win over third-seeded Western Illinois in the first semi-final. Tomorrow's championship match between Valpo and ORU will mark the third straight season the two schools will meet to determine the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Each of the past two seasons, the Crusaders have come out on top, and the two teams split a pair of matches during the regular season. That match is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. with live coverage on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.