Release  Craig Hammel ·

The bracket is set for next week's Horizon League volleyball championship as the regular season closed Saturday afternoon.

The top-seed and host will be Oakland, which captured its first Horizon League regular season title in its second year in the conference. The Golden Grizzlies enter the tournament on an eight-match winning streak and open play on Saturday in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m.

The second-seed will be last season's regular season and tournament champion, Milwaukee. The Panthers, like Oakland, receive a bye into the semifinals and begin play on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. ET.

The tournament begins on Friday at 5 p.m. with a match between sixth-seed UIC and third-seed Valparaiso. At 7:30, fifth-seed Cleveland State faces fourth-seed Youngstown State.

2014 Horizon League Volleyball Tournament Schedule
(All Times ET)
Friday, Nov. 21

5:00 p.m. – (6) UIC vs. (3) Valparaiso
7:30 p.m. – (5) Cleveland State vs. (4) Youngstown State
Saturday, Nov. 22
2:30 p.m. – (1) Oakland vs. Lowest remaining seed from Friday
5:00 p.m. – (2) Milwaukee vs. Highest remaining seed from Friday
Sunday, Nov. 23
2:00 p.m. – Championship Match

Volleyball Scoreboard (Nov. 15)
Milwaukee 3, Wright State 0
Oakland 3, Green Bay 0
Valparaiso 3, UIC 0

Milwaukee 3, Wright State 0
Senior Julie Kolinske had 17 kills and junior Nicole Latzig added 13 to lead the offense and senior Taylor Golabowski paced the defense with 20 digs to help the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee volleyball team record a 3-0 sweep of Wright State University Saturday afternoon at C.J. McLin Gymnasium.

"It was a really good bounce-back from last night," Milwaukee head coach Susie Johnson said. "That was a hard loss to play five sets in such an important match. I was proud of the way the team turned around for today and came very focused to play. Now we will get ready for that conference tournament."

The Panthers (16-13, 10-4 Horizon League) fended off a Raiders (5-23, 2-12 Horizon League) squad that wouldn't go away quietly, taking the 25-21, 28-26, 25-20 decision.

"Wright State played really well," Johnson said. "Our team was pretty efficient for the most part. Julie had a great match and Taylor dug a lot of balls. Nicole was able to turn it on offensively today, so her teaming with Julie was really helpful to the success of the team."

The Panthers led from start to finish in the first set, hitting .318 with just four errors to go with their 18 kills. UWM built a lead to as many as eight on a few occasions and still led, 20-12, on a service ace by Kaisa Mattson. WSU rallied and made it close, drawing within one at 22-21 before Kolinske took over. Three consecutive kills by Kolinske ended it at 25-21.

The second set was much more closely-contested and saw 14 ties and six lead changes overall. The Panthers faced a set point at 25-24 but were helped out by an attack error only to see the set tied again at 26-26. Kills by Mattson and Latzig gave UWM the 2-0 advantage on the day.

The third was a little less dramatic, but did feature nine ties and three lead changes before Milwaukee took its final edge at 19-18 on an ace by sophomore Myanna Ruiz and closed it out from there.

Oakland 3, Green Bay 0
A balanced team effort led by Cassie Pelloni's match-high 11 kills helped Oakland volleyball cruise to a 25-15, 25-13, 25-20 victory over Green Bay Saturday afternoon at the Athletics Center O'rena. The victory, Oakland's eight straight win, gave the Golden Grizzlies their first 20-win season at the Division I level.

"I thought our team played extremely well today," said Oakland head coach Rob Beam. "Green Bay battled back in the third set, and I thought we did a great job of re-focusing to play solid volleyball to end the match."

Oakland finished the regular season with a 20-9 mark and a program-best 12-2 slate in Horizon League play. Green Bay dropped to 5-21, 2-12 HL.

The Golden Grizzlies started the contest with back-to-back aces by Melissa Deatsch, as Oakland crushed five service aces in the first set to establish the tone of the contest. Oakland finished with eight aces in the three-set win.

Oakland made quick work of the Phoenix, avenging an earlier season loss at Green Bay. Jessica Dood added nine kills as the Golden Grizzlies hit .253 on the day.

Prior to the match, Oakland honored its two-member senior class of Taylor Humm and Brooke Wadsworth. Humm finished with a match-best 12 digs, while Wadsworth tallied two kills and two blocks.

Valparaiso 3, UIC 0
The Valparaiso volleyball team closed out the regular season in style on Saturday evening in Chicago, posting its best offensive performance in over seven years in a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-18) sweep of UIC.  With the win, the Crusaders secured the third seed for next weekend’s Horizon League Championship.

“We came into tonight’s match very focused,” said Crusader head coach Carin Avery.  “Our players had a lot of fun out there tonight and played very aggressively.”

The Crusaders hit at a staggering .426 clip for the match, posting 47 kills and committing just seven attack errors on 94 swings.  The .426 hitting percentage was Valpo’s best since matching that number in a sweep of Duquesne back on Sept. 14, 2007.  Valpo hit above .450 in both the first and third sets on Saturday.

While the Crusaders boasted prodigious attack numbers on Saturday, none of the three sets were runaway victories, as the Flames stayed close for most of the match.  In fact, in the opening set, Valpo never led by more than three points and was tied late at 22-22.  A big block from freshman Taylor Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) and junior Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) gave the lead back to the Crusaders, and following a UIC attack error, sophomore Emily Campbell (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) registered a kill to give the Crusaders the opener.

The second set was very similar to the first, with neither side able to gain control by more than a couple points.  Valpo led by three at 20-17, but UIC closed to within 22-21.  The Flames committed back-to-back attack errors, however, and Graboski put down an overpass to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead heading into the in-game break.

The third set was the most one-sided of the night, but at the start, it was in the opposite direction, as UIC led 7-2 early on.  Valpo rallied to tie it up at 13-13 following a block from freshman Allison Ketcham (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian) and senior Kelsey Victor (Logansport, Ind./Logansport), and would take the lead outright, going ahead 18-16 on consecutive kills by Ketcham and Campbell.  UIC scored the next two points to tie the set at 18-all, but that would be the Flames’ last hurrah, as the Crusaders closed out the match with seven consecutive points – the last six of which were Valpo kills, three of them coming from Campbell.

With a .426 hitting percentage as a team, up and down the lineup the Crusaders had eye-popping attack numbers.  Campbell, as she has all season long, was the primary catalyst, putting down 17 kills on .571 hitting.  With the big night, the sophomore ended the regular season with 457 kills on the year, already ninth-most in a single season in program history and just three kills shy of eighth position.  In the rally-scoring era, only Angie Porché has recorded more kills in a season than Campbell.

Ketcham came up just shy of double figures, hitting .350 with nine kills, while Graboski registered eight kills on just 11 swings, hitting .636 for the match.  None of the Crusaders’ five primary attackers committed more than two hitting errors over the three sets.  Berrington handed out 41 assists in running the Valpo offense.

Defensively, sophomore Morganne Longoria (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) led all players with 17 digs.  Campbell ended the night with nine digs as well, coming up just one shy of a double-double.  At the net, Victor was in on a match-best six blocks.

UIC (14-16, 7-7 Horizon) was led by 14 kills apiece from Stephenee Yancy and Kara Johnson, but hit just .202 for the match.  Nicole Johnson dished out 40 assists.

Tags: Cleveland State - Volleyball · Horizon League - Volleyball · Milwaukee - Volleyball · Oakland - Volleyball · UIC - Volleyball · Valparaiso - Volleyball · Youngstown State - Volleyball
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