Volleyball Has Sights Set On Locking Up Second Seed

Volleyball Has Sights Set On Locking Up Second Seed

Nov. 8, 2005

Contact: Alan Ashby

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Quick Sets: Cleveland State closes out the regular season with a pair of matches on the road this weekend. The Vikings will travel to Chicago to square off against UIC on Friday, Nov. 11, followed by the season finale the next afternoon at Loyola. CSU will lock up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Horizon League championship with one win and can still tie for the regular season title with a pair of victories and a little help from UW-Green Bay (which hosts league-leading UW-Milwaukee on Friday).

Head Coach Chuck Voss: In his sixth year at the helm of the Vikings, head coach Chuck Voss has an 86-87 (.497) mark and a 120-122 (.496) overall record in eight seasons. He picked up his 100th career win on Oct. 29, 2004 at Wright State and has mentored the first All-American in school history (Jamie Bouyer was a 2004 AVCA honorable mention selection), five first team all-league picks, four all-newcomer team members and the 2002 Co-Newcomer of the year (Alisa Hatcher). In 2002, Voss guided the Vikings to their first winning season since 1983 and the 18 victories in 2002 & `03 are the most since the 1988 team won 20 contests.

Voss On This Week: "We're still very confident despite losing to Milwaukee. We went toe-to-toe with the best team in the league and the only difference was a play here and a play there. This is a big week for the program because we can still secure a bye into the semifinals of the tournament and possibly a share of the regular season title. Winning on the road is always tough, but we know what we have to do."

A Glance At The Standings: Cleveland State enters the week in second place in the Horizon League at 9-3, just a game-and-a-half behind UW-Milwaukee (11-2), which has already clinched a share of the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League Championship. UIC and Loyola are tied for third at 7-5. CSU needs to win one match over the weekend to lock up the No. 2 seed and the accompanying bye into the semifinal round. A pair of losses would send the Vikings into a three-way tie with the Flames and Ramblers, where they would most likely wind up as the fourth seed due to tiebreakers.

Recapping Last Week: The Vikings split their final two home matches of the season, knocking off UW-Green Bay on Friday (Nov. 4), before losing a tightly-contested match to league-leading UW-Milwaukee on Senior Day. CSU hit .302 in the win over the Phoenix as Jenna Maddocks led the way with 15 kills. Emily Clark nearly tallied her first triple-double with 13 kills, 13 digs and a career-high eight blocks. In the third game, Alisa Hatcher became the ninth player in school history to notch 1,000 digs. The next day, the Panthers out-hit the Vikings .248 to .197 to overcome six aces and 12 blocks by CSU. Nickole Kennedy registered 11 kills to pace the Vikings. CSU opened this week by falling at Kent State in five games after winning the first two frames. Clark notched 12 kills and 18 digs, while Jenni Ramminger hit a career-high .688 (11-0-16).

Spreading The Wealth: Heading into this season, Chuck Voss knew there was no way to replace All-American Jamie Bouyer with a single player, so he was counting on the entire team to step up and fill the void. Last year, Bouyer (401) and Nickole Kennedy (307) were the only players to top the 200-kill mark in 28 matches. In 26 contests this season four players have accomplished the feat, as Kennedy (361) is joined by Danielle Siefker (262), Jenna Maddocks (261) and Emily Clark (256). The depth of the team is further evidenced by the fact that four different Vikings have been named Horizon League Player of the Week at total of five times this year.

Swept Away: Cleveland State's high level of play this year is clearly illustrated by the fact that the Vikings have swept 12 opponents this year, including a school-record five in Horizon League play alone. CSU, which recorded just eight sweeps all of last season, has been blanked just three this season -- on the road at Michigan (Sept. 9) twice by UW-Milwaukee (Oct. 7 & Nov. 5). The 2003 squad also tallied a dozen sweeps on its way to an 18-win campaign.

Milestones Continue To Fall By The Wayside: Cleveland State's best season in nearly two decades has seen the Vikings topple records and snap streaks in emphatic fashion. A list of the accomplishments follows:
• Earned the highest regular season finish in school history (at least a tie for second)
• Established a new record for league victories with nine
• Set the mark for consecutive league wins with seven (Oct. 8 - Nov. 4)
• Broke eight-match skid in regular season league contests decided in five games dating back to 2002 with win over Wright State (Oct. 21)
• Snapped 15-match losing streak against Loyola with sweep on Oct. 14
• Topped Butler for just fifth time in 25 all-time meetings (3-0 sweep on Oct. 22)

Efficiency Is In: The Vikings have out-hit their opponents by 67 points this season, posting a league-leading .240 hitting percentage. CSU foes have recorded a higher hitting percentage just six times all year, with the Vikings posting a 1-5 mark in those contests. Individually, Nickole Kennedy (.324), Danielle Siefker (.291) and Jenni Ramminger (.276) rank first, third and fifth, respectively, in the league (as of Nov. 6). Last year's team set the school record with a .239 hitting percentage.

Wall Goes Back Up: Cleveland State has made life miserable for opposing hitters recently, recording 187 blocks in the last 16 matches. Leading the way are Danielle Siefker, Jenni Ramminger and Nickole Kennedy with 85, 83 and 75 blocks, respectively. The Vikings are averaging 3.17 blocks per game during the stretch, a far cry from the 2.30 bpg the first 10 contests of the season. CSU, which leads the league with 2.85 bpg, has been out-blocked just four times this year and recorded a season-high 17.0 blocks in its four-game win over UW-Green Bay (Nov. 4).

Ramminger Settles Into Starting Role: The only freshman to see playing time on a regular basis, Jenni Ramminger has done more than just serve as All-American Jamie Bouyer's replacement at middle hitter. She currently ranks among the league leaders (as of Nov. 6) in blocks (4th - 1.20), hitting percentage (5th - .276) and aces (10th - 0.33). The Cincinnati native has been outstanding in CSU's 12 league matches, ranking first in hitting percentage (.323) and third in blocks (1.35). Ramminger has been especially effective the last three matches, leading the team with a .513 hitting percentage (24-4-39), including a career-high .688 effort (11-0-16) at Kent State (Nov. 7). She earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 19 for her efforts in the Medical Mutual CSU Invitational as she tallied 21 blocks and six aces in three matches.

Life After Shin Splints: Junior middle hitter Danielle Siefker had surgery following the 2004 season to correct her chronic shin splints. Judging from the first two months of the season, it's safe to say the procedure was a success. Siefker leads the league (as of Nov. 6) in blocks (1.38) and is third in hitting percentage (.291). The Kalida, Ohio native has hit above .500 seven times and notched a career-high 16 kills and a season-high 11 blocks in the win at Wright State on Sept. 24. She garnered Horizon League Player of the Week honors on Sept. 5 after earning tournament MVP honors at the Duquesne Invitational. Siefker hit .542 (making just six errors on 48 attempts) with 13 blocks in leading the Vikings to a trio of sweeps on Sept. 2-3. She also garnered the league's Defensive Player of the Week nod after recording 18 blocks in two matches the week of Oct. 31 - Nov. 6.

She Spells Consistency With A "K": Senior opposite Nickole Kennedy is making her presence felt this year after garnering All-Horizon League honors last season. The Sunbury, Ohio native leads the league (as of Nov. 6) in hitting percentage (.324), is third in kills (3.93) and points (4.54) and fifth in blocks (1.13). Kennedy tallied a team-season high 21 kills in both wins over Wright State and led the Vikings with 18 kills in their five-game loss to No. 12 Ohio State on Sept. 6. In league play, she has upped her kill (4.30) and block (1.33) averages while hitting a solid .318. Her consistently high level of play earned Kennedy Horizon League Player of the Week honors on Oct. 17 and all-tournament team accolades in each of CSU's three early-season tourneys.

Now Starting At Setter...: Sophomore Mel Snyder has done a superb job running the Cleveland State offense in her first season as the starting setter. She has steered the Vikings to a league-best .240 hitting percentage while ranking third in the league (as of Nov. 6) in assists (12.01). Snyder was at her very best in CSU's five-game victory over Wright State on Oct. 21, notching career-highs for assists (66) and blocks (4), while adding 12 digs and seven kills. Trailing two-games-to-one, she led the comeback by directing the offense to a .316 hitting percentage over the final two games.

She Was The Quiet One: Senior Jenna Maddocks had gone quietly about her business this season until Oct. 24, when she garnered Horizon League Player of the Week honors for hitting .338 with 32 kills and 26 digs to lead the Vikings to a pair of wins. The Norwalk, Ohio native has eight double-doubles this year and stands second on the team in kills (2.84), third in digs (2.49) and fourth in hitting percentage (.247). She posted season-highs with 18 kills and 22 digs versus Wright State on Oct. 21 and tallied 15 kills against No. 12 Ohio State on Sept. 16.

Record Blown Away: In CSU's Sept. 17 win over Niagara, senior outside hitter Emily Clark broke the school record for digs and heads into action this weekend with 1,367 digs. Megan Wandersleben, who recorded 1,138 digs from 1989-92, previously held the record. The Bolivar, Ohio native, who ranks eighth in the league (as of Nov. 6) in digs (3.76 pg), tallied a career-high 34 digs at Butler on Sept. 23 -- just three shy of the school record. She hit .321 with 35 digs in three matches to earn a spot on the Duquesne Invitational all-tournament squad the opening week of the season.

Hatcher Makes Triumphant Return: When senior Alisa Hatcher started at libero for the Vikings on Aug. 26 against Toledo, it was a special day in her career. The Bellefontaine, Ohio native hadn't played since suffering a pulmonary embolism at the end of the 2003 season, sitting out all of last year while on blood thinners. She shook of the rust against the Rockets to record 17 digs and then matched her career-high with 23 digs against No. 12 Ohio State on Sept. 6. Last week, she became ninth player in school history with 1,000 career digs (1,040), and with 393 digs on the season, Hatcher has a decent shot this weekend of eclipsing the CSU season record of 418 set by Elisa Caraulia in 1987. Overall, she is fifth in the league (as of Nov. 6) with 4.18 digs per game and fifth in league matches only at 4.58 dpg.

Can You Dig It?: Emily Clark, Alisa Hatcher and Katie Calhoon are close to becoming the first trio in school history to take to the court with 1,000 digs each. Clark is the CSU career leader with 1,321 digs, while Hatcher (1,040) reached the plateau over the weekend and Calhoon continues to close in with 969. The feat has been accomplished twice previously by a pair of teammates: Tenille Whiteside & Clarisse Chimbanda (1996) and Megan Wandersleben & Amy Ludwig (1992).

Vikings' Run Of Success Continues: With its solid play all season long, Cleveland State has assured itself of its fourth consecutive winning season, the second-longest streak in school history. It trails only the seven straight winning campaigns from 1972-78. With at least six matches still left to play, the Vikings need four victories for their first 20-win season since 1988.

CYO Success: The five-game win over Wright State on Oct. 21 sent a school-record 913 fans home happy. The crowd broke the previous attendance mark of 763 set on Oct. 17, 2003 -- another CYO night and another Cleveland State victory (a three-game sweep of Youngstown State).

Non-Conference Mastery: The Vikings are a solid 41-18 (.695) in non-conference play over the past four seasons, including an 18-6 (.750) mark in Woodling Gymnasium. CSU posted a perfect 5-0 non-conference record at home in 2002 and a spotless 4-0 mark in 2004.

CSU Successful In Classroom As Well: The Cleveland State volleyball team was one of 45 Division I schools to garner the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award, which was released on Aug. 8. The Vikings put together a 3.30 GPA for the 2004-05 academic year in addition to advancing to their first Horizon League Championship match. The award, initiated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors college and high school teams that displayed excellence in the classroom by maintaining at least a cumulative 3.30 GPA during the school year. At the Division I level, 311 schools sponsor women's volleyball. This year, Katie Calhoon, Nickole Kennedy, Jenna Maddocks & Mel Snyder were eligible to be nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for carrying a 3.20 GPA or better.

Up Next: The Vikings will head to Chicago for the 2005 Horizon League Championship, which is being hosted by UIC on Nov. 17-20 in the Flames Athletic Center. If Cleveland State is the third or fourth seed, it will play a second round contest in the evening of Nov. 18. However, if the Vikings are able to secure the No. 2 seed, they will receive a bye into the semifinal round at 4:30 p.m. CST on Nov. 19.