CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State volleyball team ended the regular season on a high note Saturday afternoon, defeating league-leading Milwaukee, 3-2. With the Senior Day victory, the Vikings finish the regular season at 15-12 overall and 5-9 in league play. Saturday's win also solidified Cleveland State's spot in the Horizon League Tournament – which will begin on Friday, November 22.
For the seventh time this season, CSU was forced to play a five-set match, picking up just its third five-set victory on the year. Set scores against Milwaukee were 25-23, 27-25, 24-26, 23-25, 15-9.
Maggie Hannon and Kerry Winchester each notched their first double-doubles of the season – Hannon with 16 kills and a career-high 10 blocks, and Winchester with a pair of career-highs with 17 kills and 10 digs. Christina Toth also set a career-high with 14 kills against the Panthers, and was just shy of a double-double with nine digs.
Along with Hannon, Winchester and Toth, the Vikings also got double-digit kills from Grace Kauth (13 kills) and Kelly Kiger (10), while Aaliyah Slappy added a career-best seven. Annie Djukic and Dayna Roberts each notched 33 assists on the match, while Kauth led the Viking defense with 13 digs and Nikki Holmes added 12.
During the opening two sets, the two teams combined for 24 tie scores and 11 lead changes, as neither team was able to gain control until the very end of the frames. During the first frame, CSU was able to gain a four-point lead at the 22-18 mark on a Winchester kill, but Milwaukee climbed their way back in the match and fought off the first set point, before the Vikings were able to close the frame on a Toth kill.
The second set was much like the first, as CSU was able to gain the advantage midway through the frame, but let the Panthers back in the set, with six ties during the final 13 points. With the score tied at 25-25, CSU was finally able to post back-to-back points, ending the frame on Toth and Kiger kills.
Milwaukee then claimed the next two frames, forcing the fifth and deciding set. Once again, the two teams battled throughout the first part of the fifth set, until CSU was able to earn a four-point lead on a 5-1 run. During this stretch the Vikings had three kills from Winchester, one from Hannon and a Djukic service ace. The Vikings then used this momentum to close the set on a 5-3 run, ending the match on a Kauth kill and Kauth service ace.
As a team, the Vikings posted a .326 hitting percentage with a season-high 81 kills, while they held the Panthers to a .258 clip. CSU combined for 23 blocks – the eighth time this season that the Vikings have had at least 20 blocks in a match.
The Vikings, who enter the tournament as the No. 6 seed, will take on No. 3 Oakland in a first round contest at 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday, November 22. This year's tournament will take place in Milwaukee, Wis. after the Panthers claimed the regular season title.