Valparaiso and Cleveland State were tied at one game apiece after two games, but the Vikings took the next two to earn the 3-1 (30-16, 21-30, 30-26, 30-25) victory over the Crusaders Tuesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
"Cleveland State has a very good volleyball team,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “They were very impressive in every aspect of the game tonight.”
The Vikings, who entered the match leading the Horizon League in blocks, showed their prowess at the net in the opening game, recording five blocks while holding Valpo to a -.024 hitting percentage to easily take the early lead. The Crusaders bounced back in the second game, hitting .342 and using a late 8-2 spurt to take control and send the match into the in-game break tied at a game apiece.
The third game was tightly contested, featuring seven ties and two lead changes. Valpo found itself down 17-13 midway through the game, but scored 11 of the next 15 points to take a three-point lead at 24-21. The Vikings fought back, going on a 5-1 run of their own to reclaim the lead at 26-25. The Crusaders would tie it up at 26 off of a CSU attack error, but would drop the next four points to give the Vikings the game. Cleveland State led from start to finish in the final game to take the match.
Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) paced the Crusaders with 20 kills, while three others finished in double figures in the category, including Tara Newton (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central), who posted a career-best 11 kills on .450 hitting. Newton also registered three service aces and a career-high seven digs. Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led Valpo on the back line with 20 digs, while Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie) tallied four blocks.
“It was nice to see Tara have a good night offensively,” said Avery. “We hope she can continue to produce like she did tonight in the kills department.”
Amy Benz was the catalyst on both sides of the net for the Vikings, picking up 11 kills on .476 hitting while also tallying 11 blocks. Kayla Lefeld added 11 kills on .556 hitting, as four Cleveland State (12-5, 5-1 Horizon) players finished with at least 10 kills. Jordan Bateman led all players with 22 digs, while Beth Greulich chipped in eight blocks.
Valparaiso (13-4, 4-1 Horizon) returns to Horizon League play Wednesday night as the Crusaders host Youngstown State at the Athletics-Recreation Center. First serve is set for 7 p.m.