Vikings Top Valparaiso, 3-1, to Win Horizon League Tournament Championship; Earn Berth in NCAA Tournament

Vikings Top Valparaiso, 3-1, to Win Horizon League Tournament Championship; Earn Berth in NCAA Tournament

Nov. 18, 2007

Final Stats

Contact: Greg Murphy

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Cleveland State won its first-ever Horizon League Tournament Championship and claimed the league's automatic berth to the 2007 NCAA Championships with a 30-27, 28-30, 30-27, 30-23 victory over Valparaiso on Sunday afternoon in the Klotsche Center.

The pairings for the 2007 NCAA Championships will be announced next Sunday, Nov. 25 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPU.

"It hasn't really hit me yet," head coach Chuck Voss said. "But I am looking forward to when it does. I am just excited to have the opportunity to play against another great program in the NCAA Tournament and getting this win is another step forward for our program."

Amy Benz was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Alexis Korovich and Jenni Ramminger.

Valparaiso's Angie Porche, Brittany Malicoat and Val Bollenbacher were also chosen to the all-tournament team.

Beth Greulich led the Vikings with 17 kills and hit .378, while Alexis Korovich added 15 kills and 15 digs for her 20th double-double of the season. Amy Benz and Jenni Ramminger also reached double-digit kills with 10 apiece, while Jordan Bateman finished with 14 digs.

Mel Snyder flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 48 assists, eight kills and eight digs. Her 48 assists give her 1,440 for the season, breaking the single-season school record of 1,425 set by Kelly Crain in 2003.

Game one featured runs by both teams with Valparaiso opening the match on a 10-5 run. However, the Vikings slowly chipped away at the deficit and knotted the match at 12-12 on a kill by Amy Benz. Back-to-back kills from Greulich, who finished with eight kills in game one, a Crusader attack error and another Greulich kill pushed the Viking lead to 16-12.

But Valparaiso wasn't done as the Crusaders went on an 8-5 run to cut their deficit to 21-20. However, CSU scored the next five points to seemingly take control of the game, but the Crusaders had one more run left as they tallied seven of the next nine points to cut the CSU lead to 28-27. But that's as close as Valparaiso would get as back-to-back Crusader attack errors ended the game.

The Vikings started quickly in game two as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead to force an early Crusader timeout. The 60 second break slowed CSU's momentum as Valparaiso came out of the timeout and went on a 7-3 run of its own to tie the score at 10-10 and pushed its lead to 15-12 on a Val Bollenbacher kill. The Crusader lead would swell to as many as six points and Valparaiso appeared was on the verge of tying the match at 1-1 as it claimed a 29-24 lead following a Tara Newton kill.

However, the Vikings had other ideas after an Alexis Korovich kill cut the deficit to 29-25 and gave CSU possession. From there, Meghan Mental served three straight points to fend off match points and pull CSU within one at 29-28. Newton stopped the CSU run with a kill to end game two.

"We really started to get the middles involved in game two and once Mel started feeding them, we executed really well," Voss said.

The third game was another tight affair in the early going before CSU opened up a 16-10 advantage on a service ace from Maggie Bonomini. However, Valparaiso refused to go away and used a 10-4 run to knot the game at 20-20 only to watch CSU score the next three points to regain a three point advantage (23-20).

Game four was much of the same in the early going as neither team could pull away. Leading 19-18, CSU put together five straight points to open up a 24-18 advantage and the Crusaders would not threaten the rest of the way.

Bollenbacher led the Crusaders with 18 kills, while Angie Porche finished with 16 kills and Tiffany Meikle with a match-best 19 digs. The Crusaders finish the 2007 season at 21-11.