Valparaiso took the opening set from Lipscomb Saturday afternoon in Notre Dame, Ind. at the Golden Dome Invitational, but could not slow down the Bisons’ offensive attack in the last three frames as Valpo fell by a 3-1 final (21-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-23).
Valpo limited Lipscomb to just 12 kills in the opening set while forcing eight attack errors by the Bisons en route to the win in the opener. But Lipscomb combined for 53 kills over the final three sets, against just 35 Crusader kills, and hit at a .325 clip.
“Our digs, our blocks and the number of unforced errors were pretty comparable today,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery. “But when a team out-kills you by that much [65-47] and finishes long rallies, it’s going to be really tough to win. Their outside attackers, who both got 18 kills apiece, really hurt us bad today. At the end, Lipscomb found ways to finish the game with kills and we didn’t.”
The Crusaders jumped out to as much as a four-point lead approaching the middle stages of the opener, thanks in part to a trio of kills by sophomore Sarah Dooms (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove). But with a 12-8 advantage, Valpo fell victim to a five-point run by the Bisons, which included three service aces by Lauren Ford, to fall behind 13-12.
Back-to-back points on a kill by senior Katie Britton (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and a service ace by freshman Morgan Beil (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) returned the lead to Valpo’s side of the ledger, and the Crusaders would never trail again. Lipscomb stayed within striking distance, and was as close as two points late at 23-21. But Beil put down an overpass to give Valpo set point, and a wide attack from the Bisons gave the Crusaders the opening-set win.
The Crusaders claimed an early edge in the second set at 4-2, but the frame was quickly decided thanks to an 11-1 Lipscomb run. Valpo got no closer than six points the rest of the way. Valpo was unable to gain an outright lead at any point in the third set, only moving into a tie twice, and a three-point Lipscomb spurt with the Bisons leading 17-15 was enough to give Lipscomb the breathing room it needed to claim a 2-1 lead in the sets column.
The fourth set saw Valpo take the early advantage with a four-point spurt, including two blocks by Beil and senior Amy Groesbeck (Wheaton, Ill./North), to go ahead 5-3. The Crusaders maintained the edge, pushing it to as many as three points, as the set moved towards the halfway point.
Lipscomb’s decisive run came with Valpo ahead 14-13, as the Bisons scored six of the next seven points to take a 19-15 lead. The deficit was 22-18 when back-to-back kills by Beil and Groesbeck cut the margin in half. After the teams traded sideouts, a kill by Lipscomb’s Kaycee Green gave the Bisons three match points. An attack error and a kill by Dooms moved Valpo to within one point of sending the frame to extra points, but another kill by Green closed out the match in Lipscomb’s favor.
Beil paced the Crusaders in kills for the second time in her career, tallying a career-best 12 terminations on .360 hitting while also adding a match-best six blocks. Dooms added a double-double for Valpo with 11 kills and 11 digs, while senior Jenny Pokorny (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) added 35 assists and 10 digs. Junior Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) led the Crusaders with 16 digs. Sophomore Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis./Little Chute) chipped in on five of Valpo’s 11 team blocks and also contributed six kills on .400 hitting.
Lipscomb (3-6) got a pair of 18-kill performances from Green and Lauren Ford, the latter of whom did it with a .417 attack percentage. A trio of Bison athletes reached double figures in digs, led by a match-best 19 from Stephanie Rex.
“It’s not a horrendous loss for us, because they’ve been to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and are picked first in their league,” said Avery. “Lipscomb is a very good team and they played very well today.”
Valparaiso (7-3) closes out action at the Golden Dome Invitational against host Notre Dame Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. CDT. The match can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso, while live stats and a live chat will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.