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Crusaders Sweep Drake On the Road Friday Night

 

The Valparaiso University volleyball team avenged one of its early conference losses on Friday evening in Des Moines, Iowa, as the Crusaders easily handled Drake for a  3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-15) road victory.

 

How It Happened

–          Drake held the early lead in set one, but with the score tied 6-6, four different Crusaders recorded kills as part of a four-point spurt as Valpo jumped out to a 10-6 lead.

–          With the score 13-11 in favor of the Crusaders, Valpo scored eight straight – the last seven coming on the serve of freshman Brittany Anderson (East Chicago, Ind./Bishop Noll) – as part of a 12-1 run to close the set. The Crusaders hit .289 in the opener while limiting Drake to seven kills on -.020 hitting.

–          Valpo rallied from an early deficit in the second set to take an 11-10 lead, but Drake responded with eight of the next nine points to pull ahead, 18-12.

–          A seemingly innocuous three-point spurt turned into the start of an 8-2 run for the Crusaders as Valpo evened the frame at 20 apiece, a run which featured three kills from junior Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep).

–          Drake would score the next two points, but a solo rejection by senior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) brought the Crusaders within 22-21. Carlson then stepped back to the service line and served out the set, as a Graboski kill capped a 5-0 spurt and gave the Crusaders a 2-0 lead in the match.

–          The third set ended up being all Valpo as well, as the Crusaders hit .370 with 13 kills while limiting Drake to .059 hitting for the frame. Valpo’s lead was just 8-7 before a 6-0 run – which featured three Graboski kills – extended the advantage to seven points, and the Crusaders cruised from there.

 

Inside the Match

–          Friday marked just the third time in Carin Avery’s head coaching career at Valpo that the Crusaders had dropped the first conference matchup of the season to a team in straight sets and then come back to win the second matchup in three straight. Valpo previously had done so against UMKC in 2002 and Green Bay in 2015.

–          Graboski tied for team-high honors on Friday with 12 kills and do so on .550 hitting, committing just one attack error. The .550 hitting percentage was the senior’s best of her career when tallying at least 10 kills.

–          Graboski enters Saturday’s matchup at UNI with 1,095 career kills, just two shy of 10th place in program history and four shy of ninth position.

–          Carlson reached double figures in kills for the 10th time on the year, tying Graboski for team-high honors with 12 kills while hitting at a .294 clip. The junior also added 13 digs in the winning effort.

–          Junior Lizzie Zaleski (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) continued her recent string of strong performances on the right side, hitting .533 with eight kills and no errors.

–          Anderson tallied 40 assists in the sweep, a season-high for the freshman in a three-set match as she also recorded her highest assist percentage in conference play. The rookie also posted 10 digs as she recorded her fifth consecutive double-double.VB

–          Valpo pushed its national-best digs average to 20.46/set on Friday with 69 digs in the three-set win. Freshman Rylee Cookerly (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led the way in the back row with 23 digs in the sweep, while junior Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) totaled 14 digs as well.

–          Junior Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) tallied five of her match-high six blocks in the first set on Friday.

–          The Crusaders finished the night with 10 total team blocks, the ninth time this season the team has reached double figures in rejections and the third time Valpo has done so in a three-set match.

–          Valpo has won three straight matches via the sweep for the first time since Oct. 27-Nov. 6, 2015.

 

Thoughts From Coach Avery

“I’m not sure if we could have played any better volleyball tonight. Our defense was amazing, and we really fed off of each other’s play.”

 

“The first set set a good tone for us the entire match, and obviously the big comeback in the second set was crucial. Going ahead two sets was big for us.”

 

Next Up

Valpo (12-10, 4-5 MVC) concludes the road swing through the state of Iowa Saturday night at #25 UNI at 7 p.m. The match can be seen live on The Valley on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for live coverage available via ValpoAthletics.com.