By Matthew Poshedley
The Vikings’ regular season 10 game win streak didn’t end as they prepared for the Horizon League playoff with a first-round bye.
Saturday, Nov. 18, the Vikings faced off against Northern Kentucky University in their semifinals match. Led by sophomore Sara Skeens with 20 total kills, the Vikings would go on to win their 11th straight game in a 3-1 victory.
The Vikings’ impressive win on Saturday would take them to a third straight Horizon League Championship match and their ninth appearance under head coach Chuck Voss.
Sunday, Nov. 19, the Vikings prepared to defend their title against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a team they defeated for their 10th straight win in their final game of the regular season.
The Vikings won the game and achieved their third straight Horizon League Championship title. This was their 12th consecutive win of the season. Skeens was named the tournament’s most valuable player after posting a team high of 30 kills.
Senior setter Gina Kilner earned a spot on the all-tournament team after leading the Vikings to a .270 hitting percentage. Sophomore Trinniti Hall was also named to the all-tournament team after averaging 3.43 kills per set on a .513 hitting percentage.
The team effort continued as senior Shannon Grega recorded 12 digs to lead the Vikings’ defense, while sophomore Jordan Verbiak and freshman Emily DeGeorge both added six.
“The girls worked hard each and every day,” Voss said. “To win three straight titles in the Horizon League is a fantastic accomplishment.”
This marks Voss’s fifth Horizon League title in his 18th season as head coach and their third consecutive title. Cleveland State is just one of three teams in Horizon League history to have captured five tournament titles.
“Each year is different, and our four seniors this year brought great leadership to the team,” Voss said. “Ultimately, you never win championships unless you have great leadership.”
Cleveland State is just the second team in Horizon League history to win three straight tournament titles and the first to do so since 1994.
In addition to the title success and leading the Vikings to the defeat of the best team in the league, Voss has also led Cleveland State to eight, 20-win seasons.
The Vikings’ season and tournament success granted them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Learning the Vikings would face off against the 11th seeded Utes of the University of Utah, Voss knew his team would have to be ready.
“We’re going to have to bring our A-game,” Voss said. “They’re a big and physical team in one of the best conferences.”
Unfortunately, the Vikings would fall 3-0 to the Utes in their first ever matchup between the two programs.