Valparaiso began play
Friday afternoon at the Saluki Invitational on a high note, rolling over its
momentum from last weekend in a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-16, 25-17) of Murray State
in Carbondale, Ill.
“It was nice to see some
of the little things we worked on this week in practice really show in the
match tonight,” said Crusader head coach Carin
Avery. “We stressed that we needed
to serve a lot better, and I thought we did for sure tonight. We also talked about a few things with our
blocking and worked on it a bit, and that looked better tonight as well.”
Murray State kept the opening set tight for a brief period, as
the Racers were still within three points at 10-7. But Valpo took advantage of four MSU errors,
along with kills by Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian)
and Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New
Prairie), to go on a 6-1 run and pull ahead by eight points at 16-8. The lead remained at a comfortable margin the
rest of the way, and a kill by Tara
Diebler (Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central) followed by an Angie Porché (Lynwood,
Ill./Thornton Fractional South)
service ace closed a 4-0 spurt to finish off the opener.
The second frame was not
close for nearly as long, as Valpo reeled off the first five points of the set
on the strength of a kill by Diebler, a service ace by Andrea Balsis (Benton
a solo block by Porché and two MSU errors.
The Racers scored the next three points, but the Crusaders responded
with another 4-0 spurt on a pair of Diebler aces to go with kills from Porché
and Jenny Pokorny (Geneva,
to take a six-point edge. Murray State
closed back to within three at 12-9 later in the set, but Britton recorded
three of Valpo’s four kills in a 4-1 spurt that pushed the lead back to six, a
deficit which MSU could not overcome.
The final set was the
most contested of the three, as Murray
State held a lead as late
as 12-10. But a kill by Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North)
sparked a huge Crusader run, as a Racer attack error and a Porché kill forced a
timeout by MSU. Out of the stoppage,
Layman and Porché combined on a rejection, and a Racer kill merely served to briefly
quell the Crusader momentum. Porché
registered another termination, and libero Taylor
Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) stepped back to the service line and served five
straight points, capped by an ace to end a 10-1 run that gave the Crusaders
control for good. The teams would side
out eight straight points before freshman Mary
Dent (Long Grove, Ill./Von Steuben) ended the match with a
Valparaiso hit at a stellar .374 clip for the match, as four
of its five primary hitters swung at better than a .300 percentage. Groesbeck led the way with a match-best 12
kills on .500 hitting, while Porché chipped in 11 terminations while hitting a
.320 clip. Britton and Layman each
tallied seven kills apiece on 13 swings.
Setter Kim Bukowski (Waukesha, Wis./West)
led all players with 30 assists.
“This was really the
first match all year that we’ve eliminated a lot of our errors offensively and
we kept the pressure on our opponent throughout,” said Avery. “Our setters did a really good job mixing up
the offense and keeping it running at a high level.”
On the defensive side of
the ball, the Crusaders out-dug Murray
State (0-7) 47-35, thanks
in large part to 17 digs by Root. Valpo
also registered five blocks and seven service aces on the match, led by two
rejections and three aces from Diebler.
Valparaiso (4-3) concludes play at the Saluki Invitational
with a pair of matches on Saturday. The
Crusaders will take on UAB at 10 a.m. before facing off with host Southern Illinois in the tournament finale at 7 p.m. Both matches can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1
and online at www.valpoathletics.com,
which will also have links for live stats for both matches.