By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Despite a dominant start and a career-high 22 kills by senior Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.), the Green Bay volleyball team (7-8, 2-1 HL) was dealt a tough, five-set loss at preseason favorite Valparaiso (13-3, 2-0 HL) Friday night in Horizon League action at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
The Phoenix rolled to a 25-9 victory in the opener and had its chances to close out the win in sets four and five, but the host Crusaders prevailed with a 3-2 (9-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 18-16) victory.
“We’ve been in these types of matches before and we just need to take that next step in order to win them,” Green Bay head coach Michaela Franklin said. “We need to be more consistent and come out with the same fight to start every set.”
Leading 2-1 in the match, Green Bay used a 6-0 run that included three straight kills by Anderson to open up a 23-21 advantage late in the fourth set. Valparaiso wouldn’t go down easy, however, as the Crusaders hammered home four consecutive kills to win 25-23 and force a fifth set.
Valpo carried its momentum into the finale, jumping out to a 10-5 lead, but Green Bay rallied once again and knotted the score at 13-13. The teams went back and forth following a Crusaders timeout, and the Phoenix had a match-point chance at 16-15 after a kill by freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.), but three-straight Valpo points handed Green Bay its first conference loss of the season.
The Phoenix opened up a 12-2 lead in the first set before ultimately cruising to a 25-9 win. Green Bay hit an impressive .609 in the opener, with Anderson leading the way with five kills on seven attempts (.714).
Green Bay trailed 22-17 in set two, but rattled off five straight to tie the match at 22-22 after a Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) kill. Valpo had the final say, however, closing on a 3-0 run to knot the match at 1-1.
The Phoenix was able to momentarily regain control of the match in the third, finishing with a 9-1 run to win 25-21 after trailing 20-16. Anderson led the way with six kills in set three.
The 22 kills for Anderson tied her career mark that she set on Sept. 15 last season at Davidson. The senior hit .340 in the contest and has now tallied double-digit kills seven times this season, including in each of the last four matches.
“Monica continues to be a great competitor for us,” Franklin said. “She thrives in those big moments and takes it to another level when the game is on the line. She is definitely nice to have on our side and she’s setting a great example for the rest of our players.”
Van Zeeland (15) and Hurley (13) also recorded double-digit kill totals, while Van Zeeland added 13 digs for her team-high sixth double-double of the year. Sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) also had a double-double on Friday, posting 48 assists and 12 digs, while sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) had a solid night with eight kills and a career-best eight blocks.
Green Bay returns to action on Saturday at 4 p.m., taking on UIC at the Flames Athletic Center in Chicago.
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