Nov. 18, 2012
Contact: Greg Murphy
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Cleveland State volleyball team just keeps on winning and the 13th straight win proved to be the luckiest of them all.
Despite losing the first set, the Vikings rallied to earn a 3-1 win over UIC in the 2012 Horizon League Championship on Sunday afternoon in Woodling Gym. The victory gives CSU the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship with the Selection Show scheduled for next Sunday (Nov. 25).
Match scores were 21-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-20.
The Vikings, who were playing in the league championship match for the fifth time in the last six seasons (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012), won the league title for the first time since 2007.
The Vikings, who extended their win streak to 13 straight matches, improved to 23-6 this year. CSU has not lost since Sept. 28. UIC concluded its season at 19-13.
Tournament MVP Kara Koch, who was also the Horizon League Player of the Year, recorded 23 kills and hit .292 to lead a potent Viking offense. She added 11 digs for her 16th double-double of the season. Jackie Dabbelt added 10 kills, while Kerry Winchester finished with nine.
Dabbelt and Roberts joined Koch on the all-tournament team.
After dropping the first set, the Vikings fell behind 3-0 in set two, but quickly battled back with a 10-4 run to take a 10-7 lead on a Flames serving error. CSU did not trail the rest of the set as the team's continued to trade points until a Dabbelt kill evened things at one set each.
The third set was easily the most entertaining with UIC once again jumping out to a quick lead by scoring the first four points. But once again, CSU rallied, using a kill by Maggie Hannon to cap a 10-2 run that put the Vikings ahead, 10-6. UIC came right back with five straight points to regain an 11-10 lead, eventually extending the lead to 19-14.
The lead was still five points (22-17), but a Dabbelt kill, a Flame attack error and a Frease block pulled the Vikings back within 22-20. UIC stopped the run with a kill to make it 23-20, but the Vikings came right back with three points to even the set at 23 all.
UIC scored to make it 24-23 and had first crack at set point, but a Koch kill extended the match. CSU went on to fight off two more set points to claim set three and take a 2-1 lead. Koch scored four of CSU's last five points on three kills and a service ace.
CSU rode that momentum to a quick 10-5 lead in the fourth set, but the Flames stormed back to take a 14-13 lead on Janise Dismuke kill. But three straight points by the Vikings put CSU back ahead, 16-14, and they would not relinquish the lead the rest of the afternoon, using a Frease kill to win the championship.
CSU hit .215 for the match, while the Flames hit .199.
The NCAA Selection Show, where the Vikings will learn their first round opponent, will air on ESPNU on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 4 p.m. ET.
Kara Koch, Cleveland State (MVP)
Jackie Dabbelt, Cleveland State
Dayna Roberts, Cleveland State
Kelsey Safranek, UIC
Maggie Strus, UIC
Stephanie Kinane, Loyola
Mary Dent, Valparaiso