Valparaiso University Sports Update, November 21, 2016

VU-Crusaders-Suffer-Saturday-Setback-at-Illinois-StateCrusaders Suffer Saturday Setback at Illinois State
The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team dropped Saturday’s game at Illinois State 77-56. Freshman Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill. / Cissna Park) posted Valpo’s best performance of the day, scoring nine points while hauling in seven rebounds. The Crusaders committed 30 turnovers in the defeat.

How It Happened

  • The game started well for the Crusaders, who built a 16-10 lead with 1:56 left in the first quarter after Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South) knocked down two free throws. Amber Lindfors (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) had four early points, while Dani Franklin (Cedar Rapids, Iowa / George Washington) and Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) each buried 3-pointers.
  • Illinois State struggled shooting early, finishing the first quarter at 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) from the field.
  • The six-point Valpo edge became a thing of the past when Illinois State embarked on a 17-3 run to take command of the game.
  • For the second straight game, the Crusaders struggled in the second quarter. They were outscored 28-13.
  • After trimming the lead to 11 with 4:44 left in the third, Valpo couldn’t convert multiple opportunities to whittle the deficit to single figures. The Crusaders didn’t score for nearly four minutes. Late in the quarter, the Crusaders committed turnovers on five straight possessions.
  • The Crusaders went 3-of-11 shooting in the fourth quarter.
  • Taylor Stewart was the x-factor for Illinois State, exploding for seven 3-pointers and 24 points. Millie Stevens and Hannah Green contributed 15 points apiece.

Inside the Game

  • Stoller’s performance was the best of her young Valpo career, as she set new highs in made field goals (3), made free throws (3), points (9) and rebounds (7).
  • The Crusaders outshot the Redbirds 37.2 percent to 35.1 percent. However, Illinois State had 74 field-goal attempts to Valpo’s 43.
  • Illinois State won the rebounding battle 43-39 and hauled in 20 offensive boards to Valpo’s seven. The Redbirds outscored the Crusaders in second-chance points 16-4.
  • Valpo made 30 turnovers while forcing just 12. The Crusaders were outscored on points off turnovers 27-8.
  • Lindfors chipped in eight points and seven rebounds for Valpo.
  • Valpo received points from 10 different players.
  • Morrison set a career high with nine points, while Hamlet also had nine to share team-high honors with Morrison and Stoller.
  • Saturday marked Tracey Dorow’s first return to Illinois State during her coaching career. She played three seasons for the Redbirds during her collegiate tenure.
  • Valpo snapped a stretch of 56 games with at least one player scoring in double figures. The last time no player reached double figures was Dec. 3, 2014, an 82-59 loss at Miami of Ohio.
  • The 30 turnovers was the most Valpo has committed in a game since Nov. 23, 2015, when they made 32 against Notre Dame.

Thoughts from Head Coach Tracey Dorow

  • On the turnovers: “I don’t have an answer. They put a lot of pressure on our point guards and off the ball, and we didn’t handle it very well.”
  • On returning to Illinois State: “The experience of being back was great, but unfortunately we didn’t play very well, so it wasn’t an exciting game to watch. I thought it was going to be a good game and a battle, but they outplayed us in every aspect of the game.”
  • On Addison Stoller: “She was a bright spot. She played with some urgency and a lot of fire. I’m proud of her mentality and how she battled and competed.

Next Up
The Crusaders (1-2) will welcome IU Kokomo for the first home game of the 2016-2017 regular season on Monday night. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m. at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links to live video and stats can be found on

Women’s Tennis Signs Talented Duo for 2017-18
The Valparaiso University women’s tennis program has announced the additions of Jelena Vujanic (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / Elk Grove) and Claire Czerwonka (Saint Joseph Catholic Academy / Kenosha Wis.) for the 2017-18 season. Both are four-star recruits, according to, and have signed their National Letters of Intent to play for the Crusaders.

Czerwonka is ranked third in the state of Wisconsin, 19th in the Great Lakes Region and 183rd nationally. Head coach Tammy Cecchini started recruiting Czerwonka two years ago and has watched her progress from a three-star recruit into a four-star.

“She slides all over the court,” Cecchini said. “She has a passion for tennis. She works really hard and is excited about playing for Valpo. She’s a very good player and she just wants to play all the time.”

During her prep tenure at Saint Joseph Catholic Academy, Czerwonka became a dominant force in Wisconsin Division 2 girls tennis. She was a three-time state champion from 2014-16, compiling an 89-2 record during those seasons. She went 30-0 as a senior and didn’t drop a set all year to finish her four-year high school career with a 115-8 mark.

The decision to attend Valpo concluded a long process for Czerwonka.

“There were a lot of factors that went into my college decision,” she said. “What factored the most is the team and the coach. I look forward to being part of that amazing team and the atmosphere there. Jelena and I are both competitive, so hopefully we can help Valpo win a conference championship.”

Vujanic, who received first-team all-state singles accolades this season, is ranked eighth in the state of Illinois, 18th in the Great Lakes Region and 171st nationally by She brings an impressive resume to Valpo that includes an appearance in the state quarterfinals this season. She knocked off a five-star player in the state tournament and made it further than any other player in her school’s history.

“When she visited, I knew I was going to offer her on the spot,” Cecchini said. “I could see the tears welling up in her eyes and her parents’ eyes. We were all crying.”

The moment is one that will be forever etched in Vujanic’s mind.

“It was really emotional and exciting,” she said. “All of my hard work paid off. I’m going to a great school with a great coach and great teammates. It’s amazing; I’m so excited.”

Vujanic will become the only left-handed player on Valpo’s roster. She is a member of her school’s National Honor Society and received a Scholastic Achievement Award. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering for various nonprofit organizations.

“My goal is always to find the best player athletically and academically, and someone who is a good person,” Cecchini said. “I always want to find the Valpo player. I have two girls coming to Valpo that are not only very good tennis players, but they’re great people.”

Crusaders Split In Home Meet Against Rose-Hulman
The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s swimming teams concluded their two-meet homestand against the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Friday at the ARC Pool. The women’s squad picked up their first victory of the season, winning 166-66, while the men suffered a 147.5-114.5 loss.

How It Happened

  • The women were led by senior Rachel Law (Wayne, Pa./Villa Maria Academy), who had an impressive day for the Crusaders with picking up three victories. Her victories came in the 100-yard individual medley (1:06.35), 400-yard individual medley (4:59.36) and the 500-yard freestyle (5:28.36).
  • Freshman Tara Lawson (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) followed suit and tallied two individual wins and one relay top-finish. In the 100-yard backstroke, she hit the wall at 1:03.85 to take first and in the 200-yard backstroke (2:18.78). For the relay, Lawson had help from senior Emily Trimpe (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine), freshman Erica Martins (Hartland, Wis./Lake County Lutheran) and junior Amanda Jenny (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) as the Crusaders captured the win in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:55.80.
  • Along with the victory in the 200-yard medley relay, Trimpe had a first-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (26.04), second-place nod in the 100-yard freestyle (56.70) and a top-finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:45.15) with assistance from freshman Mackenzy Tibbot (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon), Martins and Jenny.
  • On the men’s side, sophomore Mac Sogandares (Reston, Va./South Lakes) paved the way with two first-place results for the day – one coming in the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.76) and the other in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:16.92). While in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:28.03), he garnered a second-place finish with the trio of freshman Peyton Stambeck (Bartlesville, Okla./Bartlesville), freshman Harrison Jenny (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) and freshman Spenser Shaffer (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte).
  • Freshman Dylan Ogle (Simpsonville, S.C./Mauldin) turned in an impressive day for Valpo with two first-place performances, swimming a 1:57.58 in the 200-yard butterfly and a 4:55.02 in the 500-yard freestyle to earn nine points in both races.

Next Up
Valpo begins a three-meet stretch on the road when they travel to Grand Rapids, Mich for the Calvin Winter Invite. The meet is slated to begin on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. CT and runs through Saturday, Dec. 3. Friday and Saturday events begin at 9 a.m. CT.

Northern Kentucky 3, Valparaiso 2
In a match which seemed to encapsulate the season in a single contest, the sixth-seeded Valparaiso University volleyball team fought to the very end against third-seeded Northern Kentucky in a first-round matchup at the Horizon League Championship Friday before the Norse came out with the 3-2 (20-25, 29-27, 25-27, 25-21, 15-11) victory to end the Crusaders’ season.

The Crusaders, who were besieged by injuries all season long and played the final month-plus of the season without a full-time traditional setter, drew perhaps their worst possible matchup for the first round, facing a Northern Kentucky squad which had already swept Valpo twice during the regular season. But the Crusaders, as they had done all season long when faced with adversity, stepped up to the challenge, taking two of the match’s first three sets before coming up just short in the end. Along the way, senior Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) registered the first 30-30 effort in program history.

How It Happened

  • Northern Kentucky looked to gain control early in the first set, as a five-point run gave the Norse an early 9-5 lead. The Crusaders would erase the deficit with a 7-2 spurt of their own, however, to take a 15-14 lead.
  • The squads traded the lead back and forth over the next few points before back-to-back kills from sophomore Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) gave Valpo the lead for good at 20-19. The consecutive kills started a 7-1 run to end the set, as senior Jamie Lacheta (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw) eventually gave Valpo the opener with a kill.
  • Just like in the first set, it was NKU opening up an advantage, as the Norse led 13-8 at the midway point of the second set to force a Crusader timeout. Just as in the first set, however, Valpo would rally, scoring eight out of 11 points trailing 15-10 to even the set at 18-all.
  • Valpo was unable to gain the lead outright until back-to-back kills by Lacheta and Carlson gave the Crusaders set point at 24-23. NKU would hold off that set point with a kill, and would do the same on the Crusaders’ next two set point chances following kills from Carlson and senior Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central).
  • NKU earned its first set point opportunity at 27-26, but a kill from Carlson kept the set going. The Norse would receive back-to-back kills to close out the frame and send the match into the in-game break tied at one set apiece.
  • The Norse held the early lead in set three as well, and after Valpo evened up the set at 14-14, NKU went on a 6-1 run to extend its lead to 20-15. The Crusaders scored seven of the next 10 points to close to within 23-22, and after a service error gave the Norse two set point chances, a kill from Campbell and an ace by Carlson extended the set.
  • An NKU error gave Valpo the chance to win the set at 25-24, but a Norse kill evened the frame. Campbell recorded another kill to give the Crusaders a 26-25 lead, and junior Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) finished off the set with a kill of her own as Valpo took the 2-1 lead.
  • The fourth set seemed to be the flip side of the first three, as it was Valpo with an early 7-3 advantage before an NKU rally to take the lead at 9-8. The Crusaders responded to reclaim the edge and held it as late as 18-17. At that point, however, NKU scored four straight – including three points on blocks – and while Valpo answered with three consecutive points to even the set at 21-21, the Norse scored the last four points to force a decisive fifth set.
  • Neither team could gain a foothold early in set five, as the first multi-point advantage came at 8-6 for NKU. The Norse extended the lead to 10-7, and while Valpo responded with back-to-back points, the Crusaders were unable to string together a further run as NKU earned the win.

Inside the Match

  • Much like the Crusaders’ five-set home win earlier this season against Wright State, Friday’s match with Northern Kentucky featured numerous long rallies, as the two squads combined for 490 total attacks and 252 total digs.
  • Graboski led four Crusaders in double figures in kills with 20 kills on .246 hitting and also added 10 digs for her third double-double of the year.
  • Campbell picked up 14 kills in her final career match. Defensively, she posted 22 digs in the back row and was also in on four blocks.
  • Lacheta finished with 13 kills on 43 attacks – a career-high for attacks in a single match – and also tallied five blocks, three of which were of the solo variety.
  • Carlson chipped in 10 kills, 14 digs and seven assists.
  • Senior Rachel Bruinsma (New Era, Mich./Western Michigan Christian) handed out a career-high six assists while also posting eight digs and five blocks.
  • Sophomore Sydney Bronner (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth) led the Valpo effort on the block with six rejections as the Crusaders finished with 15 total team blocks. Bronner also put down five kills on 12 swings without an error.
  • In her final career match, senior Tarrah Lasky (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) recorded her second double-double of the season with 17 assists and 13 digs, while fellow senior Lexie Bouza (Elgin, Ill./Burlington Central) tallied 18 digs in her final match.
  • Longoria closed out her Crusader career by registering the first 30-30 effort in program history. The senior set a new career high with her 30 assists and also led the way for Valpo with 31 digs.
  • Valpo limited NKU to .147 hitting for the match, nearly 100 points lower than the Norse’s effort in their most recent victory over the Crusaders.
  • The match featured a combined 43 ties and 16 lead changes over the five sets.

Inside the Season

  • The Crusaders finished the season with 15 victories and earned a spot in the Horizon League Championship despite their injury troubles throughout the year.
  • Since moving to a non-traditional offense with Longoria acting as the primary setter, Valpo posted a 7-6 record over the season’s final 13 matches, with the senior averaging 5.86 digs/set and 5.43 assists/set.
  • Longoria finished the year with 680 total digs, fourth-most in a single season in Valpo history as she surpassed Brittany Malicoat’s 2006 season and Taylor Root’s 2011 season on Friday. Longoria’s 680 digs are also tied for fourth-most in a single year in Horizon League history.
  • Carlson registered 1,168 attacks on the season, 10th-most in a single year in program history.
  • As a team, the Crusaders finished the year with 293 total blocks and 2,288 digs, moving into sixth and eighth place, respectively, on the program’s single-season charts.

Inside the Careers

  • Campbell closes out her time at Valpo second in program history with 4,282 attacks and fourth with 1,418 kills despite missing a decent portion of her senior year. She also tallied 1,137 digs and 194 blocks in her career.
  • Longoria ranks third in program history with 2,249 career digs, and also finished up with 594 assists – 266 of which came in her final 13 matches – and 90 service aces.
  • Bruinsma totaled 502 digs and 184 blocks during her time at Valpo, while Bouza finished up her career with 432 digs and 113 assists.
  • Lacheta picked up 297 kills and 86 blocks over her four seasons, while Lasky tallied 520 assists and 230 digs over her three years of action.

Thoughts from Head Coach Carin Avery
“What a great match today. I’m so proud of the seniors and our entire team for leaving nothing on the court tonight. It was a hard-fought match, and unfortunately we ran out of gas at the end and couldn’t pull it out.”

“I’m proud that we even made it to the tournament this season, considering all of our injuries. What we did this season at the end was amazing. It was fun to coach this group, and we truly enjoyed their competitiveness and the amount of fun they had together. This senior class will be missed – not only for how they performed on the court for us, but more importantly, what they brought to us and what they did off the court.”

Men’s Golf Program Adds Alexander, Juskow for 2017-18 Season
The Valparaiso University men’s golf team has announced the addition of Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) and Jack Juskow (Fishers, Ind. / Hamilton Southwestern), who have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Crusaders for the 2017-18 season.

Alexander will soon become a five-year varsity letterwinner after beginning his varsity career as an eighth grader. He played two years at Longwood Junior High School in New York before transferring to Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indiana.

“Drew is a terrific athlete, possessing great strengths in both his driver and long irons,” Valpo head coach Dave Gring said. “He is a birdie-producing machine with a wonderful ability to manage the golf course during his round.”

Alexander has racked up numerous awards and honors during his prep tenure. While at Longwood Junior HS, he was all-county in 2014, all-league in 2013 and 2014, received a Scholar Athlete Award in 2014 and was Pine Ridge GC Men’s Club Champion in 2013. At Hamilton Southeastern, Alexander has notched all-county recognition in 2015-16 and all-conference in 2015.

Alexander has two Top 25 individual finishes in the Indiana High School state championship, is a two-time College Prep Series winner at Purdue HGJT, has helped his team to two top-five state finishes. In 2015, his team won sectional and regional championships in the same season for the first time in program history.

“You can see the steady improvement in his game every year, working tirelessly in practice and playing a lot of tournament golf in the offseason and during the summers,” Gring said. “Drew comes from an awesome family, along with a supportive high school and swing coach, all of whom encourage him immensely throughout the year.”

The economics and supply chain management major has also found success off the course as a member of Academy of Finance, a nationally-accredited program that provides internships and specialized classes focused on business and finance. He carries a 3.94 cumulative high school grade point average.

Juskow’s resume includes Golfweek Junior Tour Fall Season end Player of the Year honorable mention (2015), Golfweek Junior Tour Player of the Year (2015-16) and Golfweek Junior Tour all-Golfweek Team (2015-16). He played in the North-South Junior Amateur at Pinehurst in 2016 and played in the 2013 U.S. Teens European Championships in Gulane, Scotland.

“Jack brings an enormous amount of golf tournament experience to our team,” Gring said. “He is an excellent ball-striker, with strengths in both his driver and putter. He is a strong young man and possesses a lot of athletic ability.”

Juskow, who intends to major in environmental science/ecology, holds a cumulative GPA of 3.80 and has earned Academic Deans List each of his first three high school years and Scholar Athlete recognition each of the last two years.

“Like Drew, he has a wonderful support system in his family, high school coach and swing coach and this is clearly evident in the confidence that he demonstrates and his interpersonal skills,” Gring said.

Gring raved about both incoming players’ abilities to balance their studies and golf responsibilities and expressed enthusiasm and eagerness for their arrival at Valpo.

“We are thrilled to have two exceptional players from one of the best high school golf programs in the state of Indiana,” Gring said. “These two young men will have an immediate impact for us right out of the gates and throughout their time with our program.”

Marino Inks NLI with Valpo Men’s Tennis
The Valparaiso University men’s tennis program has announced the addition of Nick Marino, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Crusaders for the 2017-18 season.

Marino, a native of Northbrook, Ill. and current senior at Glenbrook North High School, is a four-star recruit, according to He is ranked seventh in Illinois, 26th in the Great Lakes Region and 264th in the nation.

Maraino made the decision to attend Valpo in April of his junior campaign.

“I was very impressed by the team’s success,” Marino said. “When I got to know the school, I was blown away. I love how the tennis program has really turned around. I’m excited to be a part of the program.”

Although Marino has yet to begin his collegiate career, he has already found success against one of Valpo’s conference rivals. Over the summer, he competed in a USTA-sanctioned tournament at the Valpo Tennis Complex and defeated Cleveland State No. 1 singles player Joe VanMeter, who had just completed his senior season with the Vikings.

Marino and teammate Austin Klapman finished 4-2 in the Illinois high school state doubles tournament last spring.

The newest Crusader is confidence he can make an immediate impact on the program when he joins the fold next year.

“When I first step onto the practice court, I’m going to be really excited,” Marino said. “I know some of the guys already; they’re awesome guys to practice with and be around. We’re all going to get so much better together. I look forward to trying to make a run next year.”