VALPARAISO | Winning on the road in the Duneland Athletic Conference is a sweet feeling for any team. Getting to celebrate with cupcakes makes the win even sweeter.
Crown Point freshman Lexy Oppenhuis wrapped up her first career match at Valparaiso with a game-winning kill to propel the Times No. 5 Bulldogs to a 26-24, 17-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory over the No. 7 Vikings on Thursday night.
The win served as revenge for the Bulldogs after they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Vikings at home earlier this season. Following a vocal celebration on the court, the team rushed to an awaiting box of sweets behind the team bench.
"Cupcakes make everything better," Oppenhuis said as she wiped away some frosting. "This was a great win for us and it was an important win."
That Oppenhuis was talking about the game-winning play at the end of the night was a direct reflection of the confidence she has earned from her teammates. East Tennessee State commit Alyssa Kvarta set the ball to Oppenhuis on the final play and beamed when describing her younger teammate.
"They didn't think I would give her the ball," Kvarta said. "They were thinking I'd be looking at the seniors. I feel like when we come in the gym, people don't look at us like they should. We have a lot of good players on this team."
Kvarta had 10 kills, 47 assists and four aces for the Bulldogs, while Meagan Fajman added 13 kills and three solo blocks. Oppenhuis registered five kills and six solo blocks.
"We have improved tremendously on defense and that really leads to us playing better offensively," Crown Point coach Alison Duncan said. "To win on the road in the DAC is tough and this shows how far we've come."
From Valparaiso's perspective the match was nearly the exact opposite from its win over the Bulldogs (17-7, 7-4) earlier in the season. The Vikings struggled to match Crown Point's energy level on Thursday night and had several unforced errors.
"(Crown Point) wanted to win and they were energized for the entire match," Valparaiso coach Katie Lenard said. "We've been talking about a lot of the same things this year that we need to improve on. The end is really when you need to be playing your best and we've got time."
Kate Bontrager led the Vikings (12-10, 8-3) with 12 kills and nine digs.