Valparaiso put together one of the most impressive offensive displays in school history Friday afternoon, hitting at a .426 clip for the match, propelling itself to a sweep of Duquesne (30-17, 30-15, 30-20) in the Crusaders’ first match at the Bowling Green Best Western Invitational.
“Our entire squad put together another amazing all-around performance tonight,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “It was fun to watch our team outplay our opponent in every aspect of the game and put together a great, complete match.”
The start of the match seemed innocuous enough for both sides, as Valpo held leads of just 10-6 and 14-10 early on. But the Crusaders turned it on from there, going on a 9-2 run to extend their lead to double digits, and easily took the opener from there. The Brown and Gold closed out the opening game with a .464 hitting percentage, led by seven kills on .667 hitting from Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial).
The only time the Dukes held a lead in any game was in the early stages of game two, where their latest lead came at 5-4. Valpo exploded for a 13-3 run from that point to take a 17-8 advantage and again cruised from that point, never letting the lead fall under eight. The Crusaders hit at a .462 clip in the middle game and were paced by Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen), who tallied six kills on just seven swings in the game.
The final game saw Valpo jump out to a quick 7-1 lead. The Crusaders extended their edge to 17-5 and were not threatened the rest of the way, getting the opportunity to get some reserves in the match as they closed out the sweep. Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) led the way in the final game, hitting .636 with seven kills.
Sears ended with a match-high 17 kills and hit at a .625 clip. She was not alone in her efficiency on the offensive end, as Porché tallied 14 kills on .565 hitting, Bollenbacher registered 12 terminations while swinging at a .588 clip and Nicole Schulz (Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) chipped in six kills on just eight swings, hitting .750 for the match. Getting the ball in position all night for the Crusader hitters was setter Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio] H.S.), who dished out 39 assists on the match.
Defensively, Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) once again paced Valpo with 18 digs, leading the Crusaders in the category for the 51st consecutive match. Porché and Sears tied for team-high honors with three blocks apiece, while Andrea Balsis (Benton Harbor, Mich./Coloma) led the Brown and Gold with three service aces.
The Crusaders held Duquesne (6-5) to just 25 kills over the match’s three games. Jenni Gross and Nicole Wright paced the Dukes with seven kills each. Valpo also dominated Duquesne in digs (53-28), blocks (6-3) and service aces (11-3).
Valparaiso (7-2) returns to action Saturday with its final two matches at the Bowling Green Invitational. The Crusaders will take on DePaul at 9 a.m. CDT before facing the host Falcons at 6 p.m. CDT. Both matches can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.