Valparaiso rebounded from dropping a tight first set to earn a 3-1 (26-28, 25-11, 25-21, 25-17) victory in Horizon League action Sunday afternoon over Loyola.
“I thought we eliminated a lot of our errors today,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “We were serving the ball much more aggressively and taking care of the ball a lot better. This is the kind of volleyball we need to play from this point out to win league matches.”
The first set was close throughout. The Crusaders gained a 14-9 lead with a 6-1 spurt, forcing a Loyola timeout, but the Ramblers came out of the stoppage on fire, going on a 7-0 run to take a two-point lead. Loyola held Valpo at bay, never letting the Crusaders take the lead, all the way up until 24-22, when Angie Porché (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) registered first a kill and then a service ace to fight off two set points and tie the frame.
A kill by Sarah Singer gave Loyola a third set point, but Val Bollenbacher (Bremen, Ind./Bremen) and Allison Sears (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) registered back-to-back terminations to give the Crusaders a set point of their own. A Valpo service error tied up the set at 26, though, and Loyola registered the next two points to take the opener.
The second set, however, was all Crusaders. An early 6-2 lead brought on a Loyola timeout, and while the Ramblers sided out on their next two opportunities, they would get no closer, as Valpo went on a 13-3 run at 8-4 to salt away the frame and go on to tie the match at a set apiece. The Crusaders sided out on 11 of 12 opportunities during the second set, while Bollenbacher registered six kills on .500 hitting during the frame.
Valpo controlled the latter stages of the third set as well. With Loyola leading 11-10, the Crusaders went on a 5-1 spurt to take a 15-12 lead, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the set. Loyola closed to within one point on five occasions, the last coming at 22-21, but back-to-back kills by Bollenbacher and a second-touch attack from Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West) closed out the set in Valpo’s favor.
Valpo never trailed in the fourth set and jumped out to an early 7-3 lead. Loyola would fight back to tie the frame at nine apiece, and following a 4-0 Crusader run, put together four straight points of its own to make it 13-13. But from that point, it was all Valpo, as the Crusaders scored 12 of the match’s last 16 points to move to 3-1 at the ARC this season.
Porché paced the offensive attack with another impressive showing, putting down 20 kills on .425 hitting and adding 13 digs for a double-double. Bollenbacher put together her second straight solid match both offensively and defensively, registering 17 terminations and 11 digs. Bukowski also ended the match with her second straight double-double, handing out 46 assists and picking up 13 digs.
Brittany Malicoat (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) led the defensive charge with 16 digs, as Valpo placed five players in double figures in the category for the second consecutive match. Katie Johnson led Loyola (14-6, 4-4 Horizon) with 14 kills, while Alyse Serritella registered 15 digs for the Ramblers.
Valparaiso (12-6, 4-4 Horizon) continues its homestand on Friday with a key Horizon League battle against in-state rival Butler. First serve is slated for 7 p.m., and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso. Live audio, along with live stats and video, will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com.