By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Led by a career-high 21 kills from sophomore Taylor Kasal (Westmont, Ill.) and 15 team blocks, the Green Bay volleyball team handed Valparaiso its second conference loss of the season with a thrilling 3-2 win on Saturday evening at the Kress Center.
Green Bay, celebrating both Parents Day and Alumni Day, fell in the first set, 22-25, but responded with set scores of 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13 to win the match, evening its overall record at 12-12 while improving to 7-4 in the conference. Valpo dropped to 22-5 overall and 8-2 in the Horizon League.
Kasal had 16 digs to go along with her 21 kills, registering her first double-double of the year. Sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) led the Phoenix at the net, chipping in nine blocks (1S, 8A) as the Phoenix finished with a total of 15 team blocks.
Even at 7-7 in the first, Valparaiso used a 4-0 run to jump out to an 11-7 lead. The Crusaders extended the lead to five points (16-11), but a three-point rally by the Phoenix pulled the home team back to within two points (16-14) while forcing a Valpo timeout. Green Bay mounted a late rally to pull back to within two points, 24-22, but they couldn’t complete the effort as the Crusaders took the first set, 25-22.
Green Bay put the first two points of the second set on the board and maintained that advantage all the way to 7-5. At that point the Phoenix used a 7-2 scoring run to jump out to a 14-7 lead, causing the Crusaders to call a timeout. Maintaining the advantage late into the set, Valpo stormed back with a 5-1 run to pull back to within two, 21-19. But Green Bay held strong through the threat, finishing on a kill by Gunderson to take the second set, 25-23.
Valpo controlled play early in the third set, jumping out to a 6-1 advantage before the Phoenix called a timeout. However, Green Bay slowly chipped away at the advantage and used a 4-0 run midway through the set before grabbing the lead, 17-16, on a block by Kasal and Gunderson. Green Bay continued to lead at 19-18, but the Crusaders closed the match on a 7-1 run to win the set, 25-20.
Knotted at 13 in the fourth set, Green Bay used a 3-0 run to assume a 16-13 advantage. Four of the next six points went to the Phoenix as it built its lead to 20-15 before Valpo called a timeout. The Crusaders took the first three points out of the break, but Green Bay finished the set with a 5-1 scoring advantage that featured all five points coming on kills by Kasal to win, 25-19.
The fifth set opened with the Phoenix jumping out to a 6-1 advantage and never looking back. Valpo made it interesting down the stretch, rallying to get to within three and eventually one point (14-13) in the closing points but a service error by Kelsey Berrington sealed the win for the Phoenix, 15-13.
Freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) and sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) also notched double-doubles on Saturday, as Hurley finished with 16 kills and 10 digs, and Riese ended with 58 assists and 11 digs. Senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) posted eight blocks and sophomore Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.) had a match-best 32 digs.
Ellen Vanden Berg led the Crusaders with 13 kills and six blocks.
Green Bay returns to action on Nov. 9, welcoming conference leader Milwaukee for Senior Night at 7 p.m.
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