Nov. 12, 2005
CHICAGO - Cleveland State made the first victory at Loyola in school history one to remember, rallying from two games down to upend the Ramblers, 25-30, 28-30, 31-29, 30-28, 15-7, on Saturday evening. The Vikings, who entered the match 0-11 all-time on Loyola's home court, finished off the regular season by claiming both ends of a road swing for the first time in 12 seasons in the Horizon League.
CSU (19-9, 11-3 HL) had rallied from a two-games-to-none deficit just four times in its 32-year history before knocking off UIC, 28-30, 28-30, 30-22, 30-20, 19-17, on Friday night. The previous occurrences came during the 1998, 1988, 1984 and 1975 seasons.
The Vikings began the battle back in game three, ending a closely contested affair with a back-to-back Emily Clark kills. CSU found itself trailing 27-25 in the fourth frame, but a pair of kills by Nickole Kennedy knotted the score. After trading points, Loyola missed a serve and Clark and Danielle Siefker combined on a block to send the contest to a deciding fifth game.
The Vikings completed the comeback by never trailing in the final game, leading by as many as seven points (10-3). Kennedy had three kills on four swings in the frame, giving her 1,002 in her three-year career at CSU -- becoming just the ninth player in school history to achieve the milestone.
"Loyola played really well tonight -- this was a great win for us," CSU head coach Chuck Voss said. "We played well offensively all night long and our serving carried us in the last three games."
Kennedy paced the Vikings with 16 kills and a .412 hitting percentage, while Jenna Maddocks added 15 kills. Clark posted 13 kills and 13 digs for her fourth double-double in the last five matches, while Siefker notched 12 kills and five blocks. Alisa Hatcher added a team-high 14 digs, giving her a school-record 424 on the season. Elisa Caraulia had set the previous mark with 418 in 1988.
Hilary Stromath led Loyola (10-17, 8-6 HL) with a match-high 19 kills and a .429 hitting percentage. Courtney Ashley (15K, 12D) and Keily Zins (11K, 13D) both tallied double-doubles, while Ann Deelo had a match-best 15 digs.
"I'm really proud of how the team responded to two tough losses, especially after being down 2-0 on consecutive nights on the road," Voss noted. "Our goal was to win the conference championship and while we came up a game short, the team did everything I ever asked of them."
Cleveland State heads into next week's Horizon League Championship as the second seed, after its best regular season finish ever. The Vikings will receive a bye into the semifinal round and will play on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m. CST. Hosted by UIC, the tournament begins with two matches on Thursday, Nov. 17 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 20.