Carin Avery became Valpo's all-time winningest volleyball coach in just her fourth season as the Crusaders won a critical conference match, 30-24, 30-20, 30-25, over Western Illinois at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Friday.
The win was Avery's 93rd of her distinguished career, one more than Cindy Harris, who coached at Valpo from 1990-94. It took Avery only 121 matches to break the record, and the win kept this year's Valpo squad in first place as they look for a third straight conference championship.
In a battle of 6-1 conference teams, both came out sluggish in the first game, when each squad had double-digit errors and both hit well under .100. The Crusaders would come out on top in the first, and then explode offensively to take game two and eventually win the match.
Amy Palash (Winfield, Ill./Saint Francis) had a match-high 14 kills while hitting .393. Palash added 10 digs for her 12th double-double of the year. Jessie Fox (Granger, Ind./Penn) had 12 kills of her own, the only other player in the match to reach double-figures.
Defensively, Katie Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) led all players with 21 digs along with 39 assists, her 15th double-double this year. Fox paced a balanced Crusader block with five, while Liz Mikos (Dundee, Ill./Jacobs) and Lauren Moulton (Elgin, Ill./Larkin) had four apiece.
Ashley Baker and Mo Houston led the Westerwind (12-10, 6-2 Mid-Con) attack with eight kills each.
The win moves Valpo (17-5, 7-1 Mid-Con) alone atop the conference pending the result of tonight's match between Oral Roberts and Centenary. The Crusaders have won back-to-back conference tilts since dropping their first match in two years last Friday night.
The Brown and Gold will be back on the ARC floor Saturday night for a Mid-Con match against UMKC. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the match can be heard live on 95.1 FM, WVUR, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.