Vikings Head Into League Championship As No. 2 Seed

Vikings Head Into League Championship As No. 2 Seed

Nov. 15, 2005

Contact: Alan Ashby

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Quick Sets: After its most successful regular season in more than two decades, the volleyball team heads into this weekend's Horizon League Championship as the No. 2 seed -- it's highest seeding in a dozen years in the league. The Vikings, who have a bye into the semifinals, will not play until Saturday, Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m. CST against the winner of Friday's No. 3 UIC vs. No. 6 Butler/No. 7 Wright State match.

Head Coach Chuck Voss: In his sixth year at the helm of the Vikings, head coach Chuck Voss has an 89-87 (.506) mark and a 122-123 (.498) 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: "While we came up just short of our goal of winning the regular season title, this team did everything I ever asked of it. I'm proud of how we responded to a couple of tough losses by winning two matches on the road last weekend in the most difficult way possible. If we are aggressive in our serving and blocking during the tournament, we're going to be tough to beat."

Vikings In The Tournament: Cleveland State heads into its 10th Horizon League Championship (it didn't qualify for the postseason in 1994 & 1995) with a 4-9 overall mark. Prior to last year's run to the championship match, the Vikings had earned just two victories in their first eight appearances.

Recapping Last Week: Last week got off to an inauspicious start, as the Vikings fell at Kent State on Nov. 7 after winning the first two games. Danielle Siefker and Emily Clark led the way with 12 kills apiece. CSU would put that tough lesson to good use on its regular season-ending road trip to Chicago. On Friday (Nov. 11), the Vikings found themselves in a 2-0 hole, but rallied for a dramatic victory, capped off by a 19-17 win in the final game -- the longest fifth game in school history. Jenna Maddocks tallied a career-high 21 kills, while Nickole Kennedy added 17 kills. History repeated itself less than 24 hours later as the Vikings once again dug themselves out of a 2-0 hole to knock off Loyola. The first win ever on the Ramblers' home court (0-11 previously) completed CSU's first weekend road sweep in 12 seasons in the league. Kennedy's team-high 16 kills gave her 1,002 for her career (the ninth player in school history to reach the mark), while Alisa Hatcher set a new school season record with 424 digs.

To Put Things In Perspective: Cleveland State's 19 wins are the most in a season since the 1988 squad finished with a 20-22 mark. Furthermore, the Vikings' .679 winning percentage on the year is the best mark since the 1983 team won 69 percent of its matches (29-13). CSU's group of six seniors have led the team to 70 wins over the last four seasons, the most for a graduating class since 1986

On The Tube: If the Vikings were to advance to Sunday's championship match, the contest will be shown live throughout the state of Ohio on the Ohio News Network. Jim Blaney will take care of the play-by-by duties, while Amy Lamb will handle the color commentary. Log on to www.ohionewsnow.com and click on the programming tab to locate the ONN channels throughout the state.

History Repeats Itself: It's a good thing the Vikings are quick learners. CSU opened last week with a tough five-game loss at Kent State (Nov. 7) after jumping out to a two-games-to-none lead. Just four days later, the Vikings turned the tables on UIC after falling behind 2-0 on the Flames' home court. The win marked just the fifth time in the 34-year history of the program that CSU had rallied from a two-game deficit. The other occurrences came in 1998, 1988, 1984 and 1975. The Vikings enjoyed the win so much, they went out the next afternoon and repeated the feat at Loyola.

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 the same number of games this season four players have accomplished the feat, as Kennedy (394) is joined by Jenna Maddocks (297), Danielle Siefker (285) and Emily Clark (284). The depth of the team is further evidenced by the fact that four different Vikings were named Horizon League Player of the Week at total of five times this year.

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 (topping the 4th-place finish in 2004)
• Established a new record for league victories with 11 (the 2004 team held the previous mark with six)
• Set the record 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) -- went on to pick up two more five-game wins
• Snapped 15-match losing streak against Loyola with sweep on Oct. 14, also earned first-ever win at Loyola on Nov. 12 (0-11 previously)
• Topped Butler for just fifth time in 25 all-time meetings (3-0 sweep on Oct. 22)

Maddocks Among District's Best: One of Cleveland State's on-court leaders all season long, Jenna Maddocks was recognized on Nov. 10 for her work in the classroom. Maddocks, who carries a 3.98 GPA in early childhood education, was one of six players named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV first team for volleyball. The vice-president of CSU's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, she is also the secretary for the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, a member of Golden Key and a three-time recipient of CSU's Athletic Academic Excellence Award. The Academic All-District Team is a part of the Academic All-America program, which is administered by the College Sports Information Directors of America. As a first team selection, Maddocks will appear on the national ballot for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Women's Volleyball team. This year, Katie Calhoon, Nickole Kennedy and Mel Snyder were also eligible to be nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for carrying a 3.20 GPA or better.

Clark Doubles Her Pleasure: Emily Clark played a key role in Cleveland State's three matches last week, notching a trio of double-doubles to bring her season total to eight. She started the week with 12 kills and 18 digs at Kent State (Nov. 7), then followed that performance with 15 kills and 11 digs at UIC (Nov. 11) and 13 kills and 13 digs in the season finale at Loyola (Nov. 12).

Hatcher Etches Name In Record Books: Alisa Hatcher has been Cleveland State's top defensive player all season long, and her steady play has earned the Bellefontaine, Ohio native a place in the school record book. On Nov. 12 she established a new season record with 424 digs, topping the previous mark of 418 set by Elisa Caraulia in 1987. On Nov. 4, she became ninth player in school history with 1,000 career digs and heads into play this week with 1,071, good for fifth all-time.

Efficiency Is In: The Vikings have out-hit their opponents by 63 points this season, posting a league-leading .238 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 (.315), Danielle Siefker (.293) and Jenni Ramminger (.279) rank first, third and fifth, respectively, in the league. 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 205 blocks in the last 18 matches (to just 135 for its opponents). Leading the way are Danielle Siefker, Jenni Ramminger and Nickole Kennedy with 92, 92 and 79 blocks, respectively. The Vikings are averaging 2.97 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 2.75 bpg, has been out-blocked just six times this year (posting a 5-1 mark in those contests) and recorded a season-high 17.0 blocks in its four-game win over UW-Green Bay (Nov. 4).

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.

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 in blocks (4th - 1.14) and hitting percentage (6th - .279). The Cincinnati native was solid in CSU's 14 league matches, ranking eighth in hitting percentage (.284) and third in blocks (1.26). Ramminger was especially effective during the three matches from Nov. 4-7, 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 in blocks (1.28) and is second in hitting percentage (.293). 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 in hitting percentage (.315), is third in kills (3.79) and points (4.37) and fifth in blocks (1.06). 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 upped her kill (4.11) and block (1.15) averages while hitting a solid .323. 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 .238 hitting percentage while ranking third in the league in assists (11.88). 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 a team-high nine double-doubles this year and stands second on the team in kills (2.91), third in digs (2.43) and fourth in hitting percentage (.243). She ripped a career-high 21 kills at UIC on Nov. 11 to lead the Vikings back from a two-game deficit. She also posted 18 kills and a season-high 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 1,391 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 in digs (3.62 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. Overall, she is sixth in the league with 4.08 digs per game and sixth in league matches only at 4.30 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 1,391 digs, while Hatcher (1,102) reached the plateau on Nov. 4 and Calhoon continues to close in with 994. 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. Heading into the postseason, the Vikings need just one victory 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.

Up Next: If Cleveland State is fortunate enough to win two matches this weekend, the Vikings would head to one of 16 campus sites for the NCAA Tournament. The first and second rounds will take place on Dec. 1-2, 2-3 or 3-4. The selection show will be broadcast live on ESPNews on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m.