Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) recorded the second-most kills in a three-game match in Valpo history Saturday night, tallying 22 terminations on a .500 hitting percentage to lead the Crusaders to a sweep of Western Michigan (30-27, 30-28, 30-20) to close out the 2007 Popcorn Classic.
“Angie was phenomenal tonight,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “To record that many kills and hit .500 is a remarkable accomplishment. [Setter] Sara Hughes (San Antonio, Texas/Perrysburg [Ohio] H.S.) deserves a lot of credit as well, because she did a great job running the offense and putting a lot of balls in perfect position for Angie.”
The Crusaders got off to a great start in the match, trailing only at 1-0 in the opening game. They extended the lead to as many as eight points multiple times in the game, with the latest coming at 27-19. Western Michigan made a run at that point, scoring eight of the next 10 points to cut the Valpo advantage to 29-27. But Nicole Schulz (Kewaskum, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) registered the last of her six kills in the opener to give Valpo the 1-0 lead.
The second game was a different story, as it was tight throughout. The Brown and Gold held a 21-18 lead, but once again the Broncos made a run, going on a 10-4 spurt to take a 28-25 edge. It looked like the match would go into the break tied at one, but the Crusaders had different intentions.
Hughes converted a second-touch attack to get Valpo back within two, and then Tiffany Meikle (Cottage Grove, Wis./Monona Grove) went to work, tallying back-to-back aces to tie the game at 28. Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) recorded a kill to give Valpo game point, and Porché and Sears combined on an emphatic block to give the Crusaders the come-from-behind win to go up by two games.
“I was very proud of what we accomplished in the second game,” said Avery. “To be down that close to the end of the game after making a few errors, it takes an unbelievable effort to be mentally strong enough to win the game, and we had the strength to do so.”
The third game did not contain nearly as much drama, as the Crusaders went on a 6-2 spurt midway through the game to take a 17-12 lead. They would not let the lead slip under four the rest of the way, and ended the match on an 8-2 run, capped by a Tara Newton (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) kill for the sweep.
While Porché paced the Crusader offense with her 22 kills, she was not alone on the attack, as Schulz and Sears each registered 10 kills. Hughes picked up her second double-double of the season, tallying 48 assists and 10 digs, and also kept the Bronco defense honest with three kills on just four attacks. Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) once again led Valpo with 15 digs. For Malicoat, it marks 50 straight matches that she has paced Valpo in the digs department, dating back to Nov. 4, 2005.
Michelle Moore led Western Michigan (7-3) with 13 kills on .346 hitting. Caitlin Stremel picked up 11 digs for the Broncos, while Sam Viox handed out 28 assists.
Valpo held significant edges over Western Michigan in all categories, especially kills (59-37) and hitting percentage (.309-.177). The Crusaders also out-dug the visitors by a 49-32 margin and recorded seven blocks to the Broncos’ four.
“I was very pleased overall with our effort tonight out of everybody,” said Avery. “We came in tonight and played outstanding volleyball, a 180 degree turnaround from the way we played last night.”
With the win, the Crusaders close out the 2007 Popcorn Classic with a 2-1 record, good for second place. Indiana captured the tournament title by winning all three of its matches, while Western Michigan finished third and Marshall fourth. Representing Valpo on the All-Tournament Team were Porché, who ended the weekend with 5.4 kills/game on .319 hitting, and Sears, who averaged 4.2 kills and one block per game to go along with five service aces.
Valparaiso (6-2) plays in the final of its four early-season tournaments next weekend, as the Crusaders hit the road for the Bowling Green Invitational. Valpo will face Duquesne on Friday afternoon before meeting DePaul Saturday morning and the host Falcons Saturday night. All matches can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
2007 Popcorn Classic All-Tournament Team
Kelli-Anne Billingy, Marshall
Kelsey Hall, Indiana
Angie Porché, Valparaiso
Allison Sears, Valparaiso
Sam Viox, Western Michigan
Taylor Wittmer, Indiana (MVP)