By Briana Oldham
The Cleveland State women’s volleyball team is shaping up to be top contenders again this season.
Much like last season, they continue to excel and currently boast a conference record of 9-2.
While their overall record sits at 15-8, they appear to have the formula to follow in the footsteps of years past as the team looks ahead to possibly competing for a fourth straight conference championship. Embarking on yet another tournament wouldn’t be unusual for the Vikings, as they have won three consecutive Horizon League Championships.
The return of key players and the addition of others, coupled with outstanding leadership from the coaching staff have contributed to the team’s success.
One of the leaders who has contributed to where the Vikings are now is Sara Skeens. She was instrumental last season in helping secure big wins, and Skeens was named the Horizon League Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Skeens was recently named Horizon League Volleyball Player of the Week. She mentions that though the accolade is nice, it is not what she is playing for.
“When you notice you’ve earned this [recognition], it’s just some encouragement that you’re making progress,” Skeens said.
As the 2018 season began, the Vikings started 3-0 in their first Cleveland State Invitational. They went on to compete in the Michigan Invitational where they would walk away 1-2.
The second Cleveland State Invitational didn’t go as well as the first one, as the Vikings went 0-3. The Vikings then went 2-1 in the Bulldog Brawl, the last invitational before conference play began.
The team went 6-1 over their next seven games, winning six in a row.
Skeens downplayed the significance of the streak.
“We don’t really pay attention to streaks because it’s all about moving forward; next game and next play,” Skeens said.
The Vikings’ next two games were close but resulted in losses. Cleveland State followed those losses with another three-game winning streak.
Skeens boasted about the team knowing how to prepare and stay focused. She added that the team has shown resolve this season. Skeens asserts that the team knows they need to get better but that they are also aware of the extreme progress they have made.
Skeens is also not letting an injury dictate how much of an impact she will make. After having meniscus surgery, she is learning the boundaries she now plays with. Her motto is “adversity makes a stronger athlete.”
When asked about how she views her individual performance thus far, Skeens doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself.
“I can’t push myself too hard or think too much about having a rough start because the future is what matters,” Skeens said.
Only a handful of games remain before the start of the Horizon League Tournament.