CLEVELAND, Ohio – The top-seeded Cleveland State volleyball team outlasted No. 4 Northern Kentucky in the semifinals of the 2015 Horizon League Tournament Saturday afternoon, advancing to the championship match on Sunday, November 22 at 2:00 p.m. This will be Cleveland State's seventh trip to the Horizon League Championship match and the first since the 2012 season.
25-21, 23-25, 16-25, 25-22, 15-10
· Four Vikings finished the match with double-digit kills, led by Alexis Middlebrooks with 16.
· Christina Toth added 14 kills for the Vikings, while Grace Kauth added 13 and Rachel Stover tallied 11.
· Gina Kilner recorded 53 assists on the day – her sixth 50-assist match of the season.
· The Viking defense was led by Nikki Holmes who tallied 18 digs, while Dayna Roberts added 13 and Grace Kauth notched her 16th double-double with 12 digs.
· Cleveland State tied its season-high with 14.5 total team blocks against NKU – marking the Vikings' 14th double-digit block match of the year.
· Alexis Middlebrooks led the Vikings with eight blocks, while Aaliyah Slappy, Gina Kilner, and Rachel Stover each posted five.
· Cleveland State was making its 11th appearance in the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals – and will be playing in its seventh Horizon League Championship match on Sunday.
· CSU now stands at 25-6 on the season, with the 25 wins marking the second highest single-season win total for the Vikings over the past 30 years.
· With her 13 kills against NKU, Grace Kauth eclipsed the 1,000-kill mark for her career, finishing the match with 1,011. Kauth is the 16th Viking all-time to reach the 1,000-kill milestone.
· Rachel Stover tied her career-high with 11 kills, and posted a career-best with her five blocks.
· With her 18 digs against NKU, Nikki Holmes now ranks fifth on the CSU career digs list with 1,177 digs.
Cleveland State was able to open the contest with three straight kills from Alexis Middlebrooks, Grace Kauth, and Aaliyah Slappy, and would go on to hold the lead for all but one point during the first set. After trading points over the next few plays, Cleveland State was able to distance itself once again at the 14-11 mark following a Norse error and a Middlebrooks service ace. Despite Northern Kentucky's best effort to climb back into the set, the Vikings were able to hold the advantage for the remainder of the set, and picked up their final two points on a pair of Christina Toth kills for the 25-21 set victory.
The Vikings then dropped the next two sets, with Northern Kentucky owning a 2-1 set lead going into the fourth frame.
During the fourth set, the Vikings were able to gain an early lead at the 14-9 mark following a Middlebrooks kill, but the Norse responded with a 6-2 run to come within one point at 16-15 following a Viking error. The two teams then traded points over the next few plays, until Cleveland State closed out the frame on a 3-1 run to even the match at 2-2, forcing a fifth and deciding set.
Although Northern Kentucky got out to a fast start during the fifth set, the Vikings climbed their way back into the frame overcoming a 4-1 deficit to gain a 10-5 lead following a 7-0 run. During this stretch, Cleveland State picked up three points off of Kauth kills to regain momentum of the match. The Vikings then held off another NKU push late in the frame, picking up the 15-10 set victory on a Middlebrooks kill.
· No. 1 Cleveland State vs. No. 3 Valparaiso – Horizon League Championship – Sunday, November 22 @ 2:00 p.m. – Woodling Gymnasium