Crusaders Win Popcorn Classic in Dramatic Fashion
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Senior Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S.) completed a triple-double with a match-ending setter dump to give the Valparaiso Crusaders a 30-26, 30-28, 26-30, 25-30, 15-12 win over Eastern Michigan and the 2005 Popcorn Classic title Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

Bova shared tournament MVP honors with teammate Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin H.S.) who hit .412 with 18 kills in the win. Bova's triple-double went 10 kills (while hitting .400), 11 digs and 66 assists.

The Crusaders (8-1) began the decisive fifth game with a 3-0 run and never trailed, scoring three of the game's last four points. The Eagles (5-1) bounced back nicely after dropping the first two games, winning games three and four by holding the Crusader attack to a .129 hitting percentage in those games. The Brown and Gold hit .246 overall, including a sizzling first game in which they hit .432.

Jessi Novak (Antigo, Wis./Antigo H.S.) joined Bova and Moulton on the All-Tournament team, racking up a team-high 19 kills and 14 digs. Crusader libero Heidi Hammond also turned in a solid effort with a match-best 21 digs. Defensively, Valpo matched a school record with eight solo blocks, getting four from all-time blocks leader Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs H.S.), who chipped in 11 kills as well.

Eastern Michigan was led by Bethany and Lindsay Piccolini, each of whom were named to the All-Tournament Team. The two combined for 43 kills, including 26 from Bethany, while Lindsay had a team-high seven blocks. Kate Sulewski had 68 assists for the Eagles.

In the first match of the evening session, the St. Louis Billikens earned third place at the Classic, knocking off a game Drake squad, 29-31, 30-24, 30-27, 30-28. All-Tournament honoree Tatyana Menshikova had 26 kills for the Billikens. Drake's Megan Veltman had eight kills and rounded out the All-Tournament Team.

The Crusaders begin their fourth straight tournament this Friday in Madison, Wis. at the InnTowner Invitational. The Crusaders face UCLA on Friday at 5:00 p.m. before playing Villanova and Wisconsin Saturday. Both UCLA and Wisconsin are ranked in the top 10 in the nation.