Volleyball Closes Home Slate With Win Over Oakland
The Valparaiso University volleyball team finished out its 2016 home schedule at the ARC on Wednesday evening with a key 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22) victory over Oakland in Horizon League play. Playing in her final home match, senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) set a new career high with 16 kills.
How It Happened
- Valpo’s offense shone in the opening set, as the Crusaders hit .317 with 17 kills. Oakland closed to within 17-15, but the Crusaders responded with three straight points, and then again after the Golden Grizzlies moved to within 20-17, it was three straight Valpo points – including back-to-back kills by junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) as the Crusaders maintained control of the opener.
- The second set proved to be the tightest of the match, featuring 12 ties and six lead changes. Trailing by one at 17-16, the Crusaders rattled off three straight points – capped by a service ace from senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) – to pull ahead 19-17.
- The teams traded sideouts on the next seven points before an Oakland kill evened up the set at 22-22. Sophomore Kayla Currier (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) picked up a kill, but a service error made it 23-all. The senior Campbell stepped up at that point, recording back-to-back kills to close out the set and give Valpo a 2-0 lead.
- The third set went Oakland’s way, as the Golden Grizzlies hit .400 with 16 kills to move to within 2-1. Valpo was actually down just one point at the halfway point, trailing 13-12, but Oakland scored 12 of the frame’s final 17 points.
- Oakland controlled the early portions of the first set and led just past the halfway mark, 13-10, but the Crusaders scored five straight points – including two kills by Lacheta and capped by a solo block by senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) – to go ahead at the media timeout, 15-13.
- The Crusaders would never trail again, and with Oakland within one at 18-17, scored five of the next six points to take a 23-18 lead. Oakland responded with a 4-1 spurt to close to within 24-22, but on its third match point chance, Valpo converted thanks to a kill from Lacheta to close out the win.
Inside the Match
- Lacheta reached double figures for the sixth time this season and ended the match with a career high, posting 16 kills on .333 hitting. The senior recorded six kills apiece in the second and fourth sets.
- Campbell paced Valpo with 17 kills on .366 hitting, committing just two attack errors in posting her best hitting percentage of the year. She also registered 13 digs for her seventh double-double of the year.
- With 1,395 career kills, Campbell is now just nine kills away from fourth in Crusader history and only 26 kills out of third position.
- Senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led all players with 30 digs, her fourth effort of at least 30 digs this season. Also setting the majority of the time, Longoria recorded 23 assists – finishing with her fourth 20-20 effort in the last eight matches.
- With her 30 digs on Wednesday, Longoria has tallied 625 on the season. Her effort against the Golden Grizzlies leapfrogged her two more spots on Valpo’s single-season chart, as she now ranks sixth in a season in program history.
- Freshman Alana Brown (Napa, Calif./Vintage) approached a double-double with her work in the back row, registering nine digs and a career-best eight assists.
- Six Valpo seniors played in their final career match at the ARC on Wednesday evening, including Campbell, Lacheta and Longoria. Also playing their final home match were Bruinsma, who recorded two kills, two service aces and the key solo block in the fourth set, Tarrah Lasky (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso), who finished with eight assists, and Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central), who tallied seven assists and four digs.
Thoughts From Head Coach Carin Avery
“I thought it was a really evenly matched contest tonight. We were able to win big points at the end of sets two and four, when the score was close. When we needed a big kill or block, we were able to stay aggressive and get the point when we needed it.”
“Morganne was great again for us tonight. She is touching the ball so many times in this system, and was outstanding – both passing when she took the first ball, and in setting up our hitters.”
“I just love the fact that our pin hitters are embracing the system. They’re really swinging aggressively while also being smart. They’re starting to try different things on the attack that we've had a chance to work on in practice over the last few weeks.”
“I also give a lot of credit to our middles. This system is tough for them because they know they're not getting to get set much on offense. They’ve really done a great job staying focused and staying engaged on defense, knowing that side of the game is where they’re going to make a big contribution to our wins.”
The Crusaders (15-17, 6-9 Horizon) close out the regular season Saturday afternoon at Milwaukee with a 4 p.m. first serve. 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.
Valpo has nearly secured a berth in the Horizon League Championship. A win on Saturday would assure the Crusaders a spot in the tournament, while one loss by Wright State or a pair of UIC victories this weekend would also clinch Valpo’s berth.
Valpo Softball Signs Four Players to NLIs
Four newcomers have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Valparaiso University softball program for the 2017-18 academic year during the early signing period. The Crusaders will welcome three freshmen - Brittany Anderson, Ashley Barker and Addi Burke – as well as a junior college transfer in Kelsie Packard.
“This class is a true representation of the mutually beneficial relationship between our student-athletes and this university,” said Crusader head coach Kate Stake. “Valpo is gaining four very bright students of high character who will proudly represent the school on the field. And, at the same time, these four have gained the opportunity to compete at the Division I level, to compete for conference championships, and to join a group of like-minded, remarkable teammates, while also receiving a top-notch education. It’s a pleasure to have Addi, Ashley, Brittany and Kelsie joining our Valpo Softball family. We are eager to get them here and to feel their impact upon our program, and we look forward to providing them with an exceptional student-athlete experience along the way.”
Brittany Anderson comes to Valpo from nearby Bishop Noll Institute, where she has been a multi-sport standout for the Warriors. A three-time team MVP, she has earned First Team All-Conference and All-Area accolades in each of the last three years. She helped her team capture sectional and regional titles as a freshman, as well as a conference championship as a sophomore. Last season, she hit .560 for Bishop Noll and slugged at a 1.013 clip. On the travel circuit, she has played for the prestigious Beverly Bandits program, helping her team capture the 18U ASA Gold national championship and finishing as national runners-up at 16U PGF.
“Brittany will come to Valpo this fall with a unique opportunity; she’ll be competing for both our volleyball and softball programs during her tenure,” said Stake. “Specifically with softball, she is a local player who participates in one of the top travel ball organizations in the country, and who routinely plays with and against the best national competition. Her recruiting process, which did not initially include us, started very early and had a national scope, but in the end she recognized the advantage to staying close to home and competing in what is essentially her hometown university. We strive to keep the top local players local, and we’re happy to have succeeded in that with Brittany. She is a true utility player, capable of contributing at any position on the diamond outside of pitching. A multi-sport athlete in the truest sense, we’re excited about the opportunity to work alongside the volleyball program to afford Brittany the chance to compete at the Division I level in two different sports.”
Ashley Barker joins the Crusaders from Moline [Ill.] H.S. An infielder, she stood out as a sophomore for the Maroons, leading the team in home runs and doubles while helping the squad capture the conference championship. A First Team All-Conference selection that season, she also was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Rock Island Dispatch-Argus. Barker, who ranks among Moline’s career best in five different offensive categories entering her senior year, currently plays travel softball for the Nationals Fastpitch 18U team. She previously played for the Beverly Bandits (2013-15) and the Quad City Firebirds (2009-13). In 2014, she helped her Bandits team to PGF nationals, while during her time with the Firebirds, they captured a USSSA national title and multiple state titles.
“Ashley is ranked #1 in her class and spear-headed a club at her school that pairs regular and special-needs students together through sport and games,” said Stake. We found Ashley at a camp and were drawn right away to her coachability and inquisitiveness. She has the ability to hit for average and for power and will play the infield for us. Ashley is someone who visited a lot of good schools and successful softball programs during her recruiting process, and who ended up deciding upon Valpo because she fell in love with what we’re doing here with our softball program and with the opportunities afforded to her in our Engineering department. We want people who love to play and who recognize the great value in Valpo, and as our first commitment in the 2017 class, we think Ashley has demonstrated that well and we look forward to getting her here this fall.”
Addi Burke comes to Valpo from John Horn [Texas] H.S., where she has played both infield and outfield for the Jaguars. A standout in all aspects of the game, she was named District co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior after earning District Offensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore and District Newcomer of the Year accolades as a freshman. She has been named team MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Infielder of the Year each of the last two seasons. Burke currently plays travel softball for the Firecrackers DFW 18U Gold team.
“Before seeing any in-game action, Addi caught our attention by how she approached warmups and non-game situations,” said Stake. She was the most dirt-covered, engaged player at the park. It was clear she loved to play and to compete, and that she had some of the intangible qualities we look for when bringing someone in to our family. Addi is a dynamic player on both sides of the game. She’s a triple threat batter from the left side with an aggressive mindset on the bases, and she has the ability to play both the outfield and infield at our level. Her versatility in that regard will come in handy next year while graduating impact players at multiple positions. She chose to leave Texas and head this way in part because of our excellent Engineering department, and we’re excited to bring in someone who is so eager to play ball and get a great education at Valpo.”
Kelsie Packard will join the Crusaders as a junior next season, as she enters her sophomore year this year at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill. She played high school softball at Beloit Turner [Wis.] H.S., where she stood out in the circle, finishing with 58 career victories, a 1.04 career ERA, 11 career no-hitters and 858 strikeouts. Packard was an All-State selection and First Team All-District in each of her four seasons, and was named conference Player of the Year all four years. She played her travel softball for the Illinois Chill Gold.
“Kelsie found some tremendous success this fall against the competition she faced, and we’re excited for her to continue that trajectory at Valpo next year,” said Stake. She is a power pitcher with good strikeout potential and will add a different dimension to our staff, rounding us out in such a way that the pitchers will complement each other well. Kelsie was our final commitment in the 2017 class and has held true-to- form with the rest of them; she did her due diligence in the recruiting process and ultimately found that Valpo was the best place for her to foster her love of the game and compete for conference championships. We’ve found Kelsie to be a determined and resilient individual, and we anticipate her bringing that competitive edge along with her to Valpo.”