By Ben Hercik
Three of the past four seasons, the Cleveland State University volleyball team has won the Horizon League Championship, and gone on to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Vikings streak of three consecutive conference championships was snapped when the team fell in the conference semifinals. Head Coach Chuck Voss believes that these conference championships have helped create a winning culture for the team.
“When you have the experience of winning, it breeds winning,” Voss said. “Our culture has been to just work hard and bring in players that are willing to work hard. I think that continues each and every year.”
The Vikings got underway when they participated in the Panther Classic. During the tournament, there were good performances from senior Trinniti Hall, junior Hannah Greene and sophomore Lindsey Tout throughout the tournament. Greene and Tout both played well in the tournament with Greene recording 27 kills and 13 blocks, while Tout had 40 digs. Hall was named to the All-Tournament team after having a great overall tournament. During the tournament, Hill recorded a combined 33 kills, 11 blocks and 12 digs. Hall also joined Greene as the only members of the team to have over 200 blocks in her career. These performances were not enough, as the Vikings went 0-3 in the tournament. Voss thinks that these losses were beneficial because it helped expose the issues that the team had.
“Those teams exposed our weaknesses tremendously, and that’s what we’ve been working on the last couple weeks,” Voss said. “We know what our weaknesses are, and we’re striving to make strides in those weaknesses, and we’ll be prepared for the rest of the season.”
The Vikings were able to rebound when they headed to the Hampton Inn Bowling Green Invitational and went 2-1 in the tournament. The team scored its first victory against Butler University by a score of 3-2 and followed it up with a 3-0 win over the University of Charlotte later the same day. The Vikings were unable to finish the tournament undefeated, as they fell to Bowling Green State University on the final day, 3-1. Leading the way for the Vikings was once again Hall, Greene and Tout, with Hall and Greene being named to the All-Tournament team. Hall recorded 54 total kills, 14 digs and nine blocks while Greene recorded 51 total kills and 15 blocks. Tout also recorded 57 digs throughout the tournament.
After the success found at the Hampton Inn Bowling Green Invitational, the team looked to keep their momentum going at the Bluegrass Battle, but were unsuccessful as they dropped their three games in the tournament. Greene, Hall and Tout still turned out decent performances. Greene recorded 27 kills and eight blocks while Hall followed her lead and had 29 kills and 17 blocks of her own, and Tout recorded 58 digs. Despite the losses, sophomore Christina Grecol was named to the All-Tournament team after recording 97 assists in the tournament.
The team returned to Woodling Gymnasium for two matches against Niagara University and Kent State University, where they picked up two straight 3-0 wins. Hall and Greene once again turned out great performances, with Hall recording 24 kills and 15 blocks, while Greene had 25 kills. Grecol also recorded 77 assists, moving her into the top 10 in career assists with a total of 1,494 for her career. With conference play starting next week, Voss knows how important this stretch is going to be for the team.
“Every match is important, and our conference is the best it’s ever been,” Voss said. “Even though we started slow, I look forward to the challenge of playing the Horizon League.”