Valparaiso claimed the first set from host Buffalo in its opener at the Blue & White Classic Friday evening, but the Bulls remained undefeated in sending the Crusaders to a 3-1 (11-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-19) defeat.
The Crusaders blitzed Buffalo in the opening set, jumping out to a 9-2 advantage and never looking back. The lead reached double figures for the first time at 17-7, and then leading by a 20-10 count, Valpo closed the opening frame by scoring five of the last six points. The Crusaders held the Bulls to a -.148 attack percentage in the opening set, including just five kills.
The second set proved to be the antithesis of the first, as it was Buffalo which started out on a 6-1 run. Valpo would cut its deficit to four points on a number of occasions, but could not get any closer, as the Bulls’ lead reached as many as 11 points in evening up the match.
It was Buffalo which got out strong in the third set as well, leading early by four points. But Valpo made a run for the first lead change of the match, as five different Crusaders combined for six kills as part of a 9-2 run to give them an 11-8 lead. Valpo held the edge through the middle portion of the set, but with an 18-15 lead, the Crusaders fell victim to a 9-2 Buffalo run which gave the Bulls set point at 24-20. The Crusaders held off one set point chance, but Buffalo converted on its second attempt to go ahead, two sets to one.
A strong start for Buffalo in the fourth set proved to be too much for the Crusaders to overcome as well, as Valpo fell behind 8-2 early. The Crusaders rallied with an 8-2 run of their own to tie the set at 10-all, but were unable to get over the hump, as Buffalo scored four of the next five points and held the lead the rest of the way.
Senior Ellen Vanden Berg (Little Chute, Wis./Little Chute) paced Valpo with 10 kills, and fellow senior Sarah Dooms (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove) added nine terminations. Sophomore Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) posted 21 assists and 13 digs, while senior Ariel Cudney (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) handed out 15 assists. Freshman Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) totaled a team-high 15 digs to go along with 14 from Dooms.
Christine Fritsche led Buffalo (11-0) with 15 kills, while Megan Lipski and Akeila Lain added 10 kills each. Kelly Svoboda led all players with 27 digs, and Carissa McKenna was part of seven of the Bulls' 14 team blocks.
Valparaiso (10-2) concludes early-season tournament play on Saturday with a pair of matches. The Crusaders will face their second straight undefeated opponent in the form of #13 Ohio State at 10 a.m. CT before ending the tournament against Maryland Eastern Shore at 3:30 p.m. Links to live stats and video for both contests are available through ValpoAthletics.com.