The Valparaiso University volleyball team continued its strong play despite its out-of-system offensive system Tuesday night in its final non-league matchup of the year at Fort Wayne, downing the Mastodons by a 3-1 (25-14, 21-25, 28-26, 25-22) final.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders cruised to a first-set win, going on a 12-4 spurt to close the opener. Valpo took advantage of eight Fort Wayne unforced attack errors in the set to go ahead.
- The second set went the way of the Mastodons, as they went on a 7-2 run to break a 15-15 tie and pull ahead 22-17. The Crusaders would close to within 23-21, but Fort Wayne scored the final two points of the set to even the match at one set apiece.
- The third set would prove to be the tightest, featuring 15 ties and eight lead changes. Valpo trailed early 10-6, but fought its way back to pull ahead at 16-15. The Crusaders pulled out to a two-point lead at 20-18, the largest lead either side would have the rest of the set.
- On a fifth consecutive side-out, a kill from senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) gave Valpo set point at 24-23. Two points later, the Crusaders were staring the possibility of a 2-1 deficit in the face, but another kill by Campbell extended the set, making it 25-25.
- A service ace from sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) gave Valpo a second set point opportunity at 26-25, but it was thwarted by a Fort Wayne kill. Yet another termination by Campbell created a third chance to close out the key set, and this time Valpo came through with a block from sophomore Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) and junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky).
- Fort Wayne pulled ahead to an early 7-2 lead in set four, but a five-point spurt quickly evened up the set. Valpo would take the lead for good at 11-10, and while the Crusaders were never able to pull away, they kept the Mastodons from putting together any runs, as the two squads closed the match with seven consecutive side-outs – capped by a kill from Campbell.
Inside the Match
- Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) recorded her sixth straight double-double – after entering the stretch with no career double-doubles – and second 20-20 effort of the year from the libero position, matching her career best with 28 assists and also tallying 24 digs. Since the move to the out-of-system offensive attack, the two-time defending Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week is averaging 5.91 assists and 5.73 digs per set.
- Carlson nearly recorded her second triple-double in the last three matches, helping out with second balls as well. The sophomore hit .324 with 13 kills in Tuesday’s win while also posting 11 digs and eight assists.
- Campbell finished with a team-best 15 kills and added 14 digs, while Graboski had a strong offensive match as well, hitting .282 with 14 kills.
- Senior Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central) finished in double figures in digs for the fifth time this season, recording 12 digs, and also helped out in the attack with six assists.
- As a team, Valpo hit at a .227 clip in Tuesday’s win – three of the Crusaders’ top-six hitting percentages on the year have come in the last six matches.
- Tuesday’s win guaranteed the Crusaders at worst a .500 record outside of league play this season – the 15th consecutive year Valpo has gone at least .500 outside of the league.
The Crusaders (12-15) make the trek to northeast Ohio this week, facing off first with Cleveland State Friday evening at 6 p.m. CT. The match can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for the live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.