Valparaiso University Sports Update, January 16, 2017

VU-Valpo-Bowling-Places-Tenth-at-Mid-Winter-InvitationalValpo Bowling Places Tenth at Mid-Winter Invitational
The #24 Valparaiso University bowling team closed out the Mid-Winter Invitational from Jonesboro, Ark. on Sunday in bracket play, finishing the tournament in 10th place.

How It Happened

  • The Crusaders opened bracket play, contested in the best-of-seven baker format, against #9 Monmouth. Valpo took the early lead thanks to a narrow 191-190 win in game one. But Monmouth took the next three games, and while the Crusaders claimed the fifth game, Monmouth closed out the 4-2 win with an effort of 202 in game six.
  • Valpo dropped down the bracket following the loss to face Lincoln Memorial. After the squads split the first two games, the Crusaders claimed the next two to go ahead 3-1 before LMU earned a one-pin win in game five. A 191-191 tie in game six ensured Valpo wouldn’t lose in regulation, and the Crusaders earned a four-pin win in the finale to close out a 4-2-1 victory.
  • Valpo finished up the tournament against #8 Central Missouri, playing for ninth place. But the Crusaders weren’t able to take advantage of a 136 game from UCM in the opener, only posting a 128 of their own, and the Jennies broke 200 in each of their next two games en route to beating Valpo 4-0.

Next Up
The Crusaders (33-28) will take another month’s break from competition before returning to action as they host the Crusader Classic Feb. 17-19.

Men’s Tennis Team Releases Spring Schedule
The defending Horizon League champion Valparaiso University men’s tennis team is less than one week away from embarking on its 2017 season with the spring opener on Jan. 21 at Toledo.

The matchup with the Rockets marks a return to the courts for a team that has enjoyed tremendous recent success, including the program’s first ever Horizon League title and NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago. Valpo’s most recent match action occurred on Nov. 6, when the Crusaders were represented by Jeffrey Schorsch and Charlie Emhardt in the doubles championship match of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.

Valpo will look for repeat success against Toledo after bettering the Rockets 5-2 a year ago.

The Crusaders hit the road to clash with a Big Ten opponent on Jan. 28 as they face off with Wisconsin, which finished 14-9 last season. This also marks a repeat showdown from last year, as the Badgers beat the Crusaders 6-1 last with Schorsch providing Valpo’s win at No.1 singles.

The first home match of the spring season takes place on Feb. 3, when Valpo welcomes rival Butler to the Courts of Northwest Indiana. The stretch of indoor nonleague matches continues for February’s duration, as Valpo hosts Williams & Mary (Feb. 5) and travels to Western Michigan (Feb. 12) before hosting Xavier and Eastern Illinois on Feb. 17.

William and Mary went 12-0 at home last year, but 1-7 away from Williamsburg, Va. Western Michigan is the defending Mid-American Conference champion and enjoyed a 20-win season that featured a 10-0 home mark a year ago. Xavier is another quality opponent after going 12-9 overall and 3-3 in the Big East in 2016.

Horizon League play cranks up on Feb. 24 as the Crusaders begin their title defense with a home date with UIC.

This year’s spring trip takes Valpo to the Sunshine State, where the Crusaders begin competition against Rollins College in Orlando, Fla. on March 5. The Crusaders will play six matches at Star Island Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., with opponents including Mount Saint Mary’s, Grand Valley State, Duquesne, Liberty and Fairleigh Dickinson. They also play a match at Saint Leo on March 8.

After returning to the Midwest, Valpo resumes Horizon League action on March 25 at Youngstown State and March 26 at Cleveland State. The Crusaders head to Middle Tennessee State for three matches from March 31 to April 2, then have two more conference road clashes on April 8 (at Northern Kentucky) and April 9 (at Wright State).

The team returns home for the duration of the regular season, hosting Green Bay on April 14 and Detroit Mercy on April 23. The Phoenix, who finished second in the league standings a year ago with their only loss coming to the Crusaders, are under the direction of a new head coach in Tim Dean.

The Horizon League Tournament will be held in Ann Arbor, Mich. from April 28-30.

Bowling Continues Play at Arkansas State Saturday
The #24 Valparaiso University bowling team continued the Mid-Winter Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark. on Saturday with the second of three days of competition, moving up one spot in the standings.

How It Happened

  • Competing in the traditional team format, Valpo dropped its first match of the day to #RV Jackson State 956-875. The Crusaders were led in the opener by fifth-year senior Olivia Wirtz (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek [Vanderbilt]) with a 199 game, while senior Lauren Wolski (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) rolled a 191.
  • Senior Marianna Guerrieri (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) recorded the Crusaders’ top individual game of the day with a 223 in the second match, but Valpo dropped a narrow 956-934 decision to #4 McKendree.
  • Wirtz nearly bested Guerrieri’s effort in the Crusaders’ next match, rolling a 221, but it would not be enough as they fell to #8 Central Missouri, 983-873.
  • The third consecutive matchup with a top-10 team proved to be the charm, as the Crusaders edged out #3 Nebraska, 836-835 – led by a 180 effort from senior Alyssa Meade (Chesterfield, Mich./L’Anse Creuse North). The one-pin victory was the second-such win in a traditional match in program history.
  • Valpo fell in its final match of play on Saturday to Lincoln Memorial, 919-797.
  • The Crusaders moved up one spot in the team standings, closing Saturday’s action in 10th place with a total pinfall of 8,608 through two days of competition.

Next Up
The Crusaders (32-26) close out action from Jonesboro in best-of-seven baker play in Sunday’s bracket competition. Valpo will open play on Sunday against Monmouth.

Hebble, Heuer Prevail at No. 1 Doubles in Women’s Tennis Season Opener
Seniors Kathleen Hebble (Sellersburg, Ind. / Silver Creek) and Paige Heuer (Munster, Ind. / Munster) notched an impressive victory at No. 1 doubles as the Valparaiso University women’s tennis team opened 2017 with a 7-0 loss to Western Michigan on Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

How It Happened

  • Hebble and Heuer took down Tracy Kuhle and Melina Lyubomirova, defeating a duo that entered the day with a 6-2 record.
  • Freshman Jordan Kopfer (Eagan, Minn. / Eastview) dropped a tightly-contested match at No. 5 singles to Barbare Eristavi 6-3, 7-5, winning the most games of any Valpo singles player on Saturday.
  • Hebble fell in her No. 1 singles showdown with Lyubomirova 6-3, 6-0, while Heuer was on the losing end of a 6-1, 6-1 match with Kuhle.
  • Sophomore Meg Modesto (Chesterton, Ind. / Chesterton) succumbed to Olivia Myers 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 singles. Freshman Dao Sysouvanh (Sun Prairie, Wis. / Sun Prairie) was on the wrong side of a 6-2, 6-1 match at No. 4.
  • Senior Morgan Paras (Indianapolis, Ind. / Bishop Chatard) dropped a 6-1, 6-0 match to Gabriela Slavova at No. 6.
  • Kopfer and Paras put together a strong showing at No. 3 doubles, losing the match to Western Michigan’s Barbare Eristavi and Slavova to allow the Broncos to capture the doubles point.
  • Modesto and Sysouvanh teamed up at No. 2 doubles and fell in their match to Myers and Denise Azcui 6-0.

Inside the Match

  • Hebble and Heuer upped their record to 6-4 with the victory.
  • The triumph over Kuhle and Lyubomirova was significant based on the Western Michigan duo’s credentials. Kuhle was second-team all-MAC and Team MVP a year ago after notching a place on the MAC all-Tournament team in 2014-15. Lyubomirova was named to the MAC all-Tournament team last year and teamed up with Kuhle to win four straight MAC Doubles Team of the Week awards.
  • The victory for Hebble and Heuer allowed them to earn redemption for a 7-6 (7-4) loss to the same Bronco pair last season.

Next Up
The Crusaders (0-1) hold their home opener on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. against DePaul. The match will take place at the Courts of NWI.

Hamlet Turns in Career Performance in Tight Loss to Penguins
Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) enjoyed a career night with 29 points and 10 rebounds, but the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team fell 76-70 at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, Ohio. Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) added 12 points for the Crusaders, who had a five-point lead at halftime.

How It Happened

  • After the two teams traded baskets in the first three minutes, Youngstown State snapped a 7-7 tie on a layup by Kelley Wright that sparked a 12-0 run by the Penguins.
  • The Crusaders went nearly three minutes without scoring during the Youngstown State run, a drought that ended when Hamlet connected on a jumper from the lane with 4:36 to go in the quarter.
  • Hamlet grabbed a steal and then scored a transition basket to cut the lead to eight. Hamlet continued to will her team back into the game for the remainder of the quarter, and Valpo eventually had the deficit down to six at 21-15 after one.
  • The second quarter was a prosperous one for the Crusaders, who outscored the Penguins 20-9.
  • The Crusaders took their first lead since 5-2 when a blocked shot by Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) on the defensive end set up a Hamlet jumper with 3:35 to go in the half to make it 28-27 Valpo.
  • After Youngstown State regained the lead, the Crusaders went back on top when freshman Maya Meredith (Indianapolis, Ind. / Cathedral) had her most impressive play of the season, finishing on a basket despite being fouled to make it 30-29 with 3:05 to go in the half.
  • Hamlet found an open Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) for a corner 3 with 1:03 left in the second quarter to extend Valpo’s lead to 35-29. The Crusaders held a 35-30 advantage at the break.
  • Alison Smolinski, who had missed the previous two games due to an injury, spearheaded a favorable third quarter for the Penguins, who outscored the Crusaders 20-11. Smolinski scored 17 of her team-high 19 points after halftime.
  • Indiya Benjamin hit a critical 3-pointer with 3:33 left in the third, giving the Penguins their first lead of the second half. Benjamin, second on the team in scoring this season, was held to five points and didn’t score in the first half.
  • The game went back-and-forth for the remainder of the third, but Smolinski drained a triple with 16 seconds to go in the period to boost Youngstown State’s lead to 50-46, an edge they would never relinquish.
  • Every time the Crusaders showed life in the fourth, the Penguins answered. They outscored Valpo in the final quarter 26-24.

Inside the Game

  • Hamlet tied a career high in scoring that she set in her first career Horizon League game back on Dec. 30, 2015 at Northern Kentucky. She went 12-of-17 from the field, establishing a new career best for made field goals. This was the 23rd time in program history a player has made 12 field goals or more in a single game.
  • Hamlet thrived in all aspects of the game. She pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, just one week after setting her personal best with eight boards against Milwaukee. On top of posting her first career double-double, Hamlet matched a career watermark with three steals.
  • In addition, the sophomore reached the 500-point mark for her Valpo career.
  • Franklin found her way to double figures for the 15th time in 17 games this season. She passed Cheryl Wilbrandt (1989-93) to move into the Top 15 in Valpo history in career scoring. Franklin now sits at 989 career points.
  • Lindfors was a force on defense throughout the evening, racking up four thunderous blocks. She also had six points and gobbled up eight rebounds.
  • The Crusaders did a strong job on the glass, outrebounding the Penguins 42-31 and holding a 13-2 offensive rebounding edge.
  • Meredith scored a career-high four points.
  • Smolinski was one of three Penguins in double figures, joined by Mary Dunn (18) and Morgan Brunner (17).

Next Up
The Crusaders (5-12, 0-6 Horizon) continue a tough stretch of travel. They will return to Valpo on Saturday evening before departing for Green Bay on Monday morning. A date with the first-place Phoenix on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT is looming next. The game can be seen on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. In addition, the hometown call can be heard with Jordan Morandini (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (color commentary) on WVUR 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on

Crusaders Continue Indoor Campaign at GVSU
The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s track and field teams were back in action indoors Friday evening after the holiday break, traveling to Grand Valley State University for the Bob Eubanks Open. The men took home third place, while the women came away with a sixth-place performance.

How It Happened

  • For the men, Valpo had two second-place finishes for the day. Freshman Benjamin Sekuloski ran a 50.60 in the 400-meter dash to secure the top finish for a Crusader runner at the meet. In the weight throw event, junior Andrew Guzek recorded a toss of 55’11 1/4" to lead the throwers.
  • Valparaiso had two top-four runners in the mile race. Sophomore Alexander Bruno (4:26.62) took third place, finishing just in front of teammate junior Ben Zibricky (4:28.57).
  • Junior sprinter James Sampson ran a 7.09 in the 60-meter dash to finish in third place.
  • On the women’s side, senior Liz Owen earned a first and third-place finish in two distance races for Valpo. The veteran ran a 2:16.48 in the 800-meter race to cross the line in first and ran a 5:04.09 in the mile to tally third.
  • Freshman Anne Mou leaped 35’1” in the triple jump to land in third place for Valpo. Mou’s jump placed the rookie fourth all-time in the event in Crusader track and field history.
  • Sophomore thrower Nellie Bonham threw a team best of 39’8 1/2” in the shot put to finish in fifth place.

Next Up
The Crusaders travel east for an in-state meet at the Fort Wayne Duals on Saturday, Jan. 21.