Army Set For First Road Test at Valpo Popcorn Classic

Senior Co-Captain Margaux Jarka

Senior Co-Captain Margaux Jarka

Sep 5, 2013

West Point, N.Y. -

The Army volleyball team faces its first road test as the Black Knights head to the Valpo Popcorn Classic this weekend in Valparaiso, Ind. Army enters the five team tournament with a 1-3 record and will face Eastern Michigan, Rhode Island and the host Valparaiso Crusaders. The only team the Black Knights will not encounter in the tournament is the Iowa Hawkeyes. This year marks the sixth installment of the Valpo Popcorn Classic.

Army is coming off a 3-1 win over Marist Wednesday night. The Black Knights lost the first set, 25-20, then came back to sweep the final three sets, 25-15, 27-15 and 25-23. 

The Black Knights will begin a new series with the Crusaders who come into the tournament with a 4-0 record. Army has three previous meetings with Rhode Island in 1981, 1987 and 2006, all of which resulted in losses. The 2009 season was Army’s the only previous match against Eastern Michigan. The match is credited under recent head coach Alma Kovaci and is recorded as a 3-0 blowout for the Black Knights.

“It was good to have the win on Wednesday night against Marist. The win gives us some confidence for the Valpo tournament,” said Kovaci. “We are going to stay in control and focus on our game. Controlling our serving and our passing game and continuing to run a fast offense is going to be our bread and butter. I hope can come out on top this weekend.”

Heading into the tournament, Army has held its opponents to a hitting percentage of .252. Freshman outside hitter Olivia Fairfield sits on top for the Black Knights with 51 kills and an average hitting percentage of .384, more than any player in the Valpo Popcorn Classic. Close behind Fairfield is sophomore outside hitter Nicole Perri, who has tallied 47 kills in four matches. Senior co-captain libero D.J. Phee leads the team with 79 digs while junior setter Mary Vaccaro has had registered 179 assists for the Black Knights. Senior co-captain outside hitter Margaux Jarka and senior right side hitter Kerry Horan each have six and seven blocks, respectively.

Valparaiso, Ind., hits close to home for Black Knight, Jarka, who ascends from New Prairie, Ind. The tournament is only an hour outside her hometown.

Coming from the Horizon League, the tournament hosts come into the weekend with four wins under their belt. Senior outside hitter Sarah Dooms leads the offense averaging .320 kills per set. Valpo has won its own tournament only three occasions under current head coach Carin Avery.

Eastern Michigan comes in sporting a 2-2 overall record, having lost its last two matches in a row. The Eagles went 18-15 last season and 8-8 in the Mid-Atlantic American Conference. Senior outside hitter Paige Roback and sophomore setter Alyssa Daivs holster the offense with an average hitting percentage of .222 and 134 assists, respectively.

Rhode Island enters the weekend with a 2-1 overall record. The Rams average a .242 hitting percentage, led by sophomore outside hitter Franki Darnold with 34 kills.  Defensively for Rhode Island stands freshman setter Callan Kinnan with 100 assists.

While the Black Knights will not face off with Iowa, the Hawkeyes come into the tournament with a 4-0. Iowa has won both of the previous meetings with Valparaiso.

Fans can follow along with all three of the Black Knights’ matches via GameTracker. Army’s match versus Valparaiso takes place on Friday, Sept. 6, at 11:30 a.m. central time. The following games for Army will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7. The match against Eastern Michigan will begin at 9 a.m. central time followed by Rhode Island at 11:30 central time.

Friday, Sept. 6, 2013

11:30 a.m. - Army vs. Valparaiso
4:30 p.m. - Rhode Island vs. Iowa
7:00 p.m.  - Valparaiso vs. Eastern Michigan  


Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013

9:00 a.m. - Army vs. Eastern Michigan          
11:30 a.m. - Valparaiso vs. Rhode Island      
2:00 p.m. - Eastern Michigan vs. Iowa
4:30 p.m. - Army vs. Rhode Island
7:00 p.m. - Valparaiso vs. Iowa                      

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