GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay volleyball team (10-10, 1-5 HL) dropped a 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-19) decision to visiting Valparaiso (12-9, 4-2 HL) on Friday night in front of 388 fans at the Kress Center. The Crusaders were paced by Ellen Vanden Berg's 16 kills and Taylor Root's 34 digs, which helped their team snap a two-match losing streak against the Phoenix.
Valpo finished with a 51-31 advantage in the kill department, out-hitting the Phoenix .217 to .115. Vanden Berg's 16 kills came on just 26 attempts, good for a .615 hitting percentage. Joining Vanden Berg in double-figure kills was Mary Dent, who tallied 12 while hitting .296.
Green Bay was led by Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.), who had a team-high nine kills to go along with 11 digs. Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) registered a team-best five blocks, including the 96th solo block of her career. The senior needs just one more to tie former Phoenix standout Marie Kaland (97 from 1992-95) atop the school's all-time list.
The contest featured two of the Horizon League's and the NCAA's top liberos in Valpo's Root and Green Bay's Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.). Root's 34 digs on Friday were the most by any Horizon League player in a three-set match this season, besting Groth's school-record mark of 29 that she had against Auburn on Aug. 25. Groth, who entered Friday's match ranked fourth in the country in digs per set, finished with a team-high 24 to improve her average to 6.17.
The Crusaders started fast, jumping out to a 12-5 lead in set number one before putting the Phoenix away 25-19. Valpo out-hit Green Bay .184 to .095 in the opener, forcing seven Phoenix attack errors.
Set two once again saw the visitors surge out to a 12-5 lead following one of Vanden Berg's seven kills in the set. Green Bay battled to get it to within five late (20-15), but the Crusaders rattled off the final five points to take the 2-0 lead with a 25-15 win.
Back-to-back Valpo kills made it 12-6 in the third, forcing a Phoenix timeout. Green Bay fought to keep it close down the stretch, trailing by just two at 19-17, but the Crusaders pulled away for the 25-19 victory and the sweep.
Green Bay is back in action tomorrow when it wraps up its three-match homestand and the first half of the Horizon League schedule against Wright State (2-21, 0-6 HL) at 4 p.m. The Raiders are coming off a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee on Friday night.
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