(1) Cleveland State 3, (3) Valparaiso 0
Top-seed Cleveland State swept third-seed Valparaiso to win the Horizon League Volleyball Championship on Sunday inside Woodling Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Vikings were led by junior Grace Kauth who had a match-high 14 kills on a .312 hitting percentage. Senior Christina Toth added 10, sophomore Alexis Middlebrooks seven, and junior Aaliyah Slappy had five.
Senior Dayna Roberts led the Viking defense with a match-high 14 digs, Kauth added 12 digs to record a double-double. Middlebrooks notched 6 blocks during the match, Toth, Slappy and Rachel Stover all added four. The Vikings held Valparaiso to a .062 hitting percentage.
Cleveland State controlled the first set; their only loss of the lead came in the first three points. Back to back kills by Kauth started to build momentum for the Vikings as they led 10-5 forcing a Valparaiso timeout. Following the timeout Cleveland State went on a six-point run, with Kills from Toth and Kauth, to lead 16-9. Back to back kills from Kauth set the Vikings up for set point, and a kill by Stover would take the set 25-13.
The second set started off with Cleveland State trailing 5-4, but the Vikings never let Valpo build on a good start to the set. Kills from Kauth and Middlebrooks would kick start the Vikings drive to take an 8-6 lead. From there, Cleveland State took control of the set, a kill by Katie Mihalik would set the Vikings up for set point. Cleveland State took the set 25-16 heading into intermission up 2-0 on the match.
The Vikings came out in the third set and gained early control on back to back kills by Toth. Cleveland State kept a stronghold on the lead going on a nine-point run to take an 11-6 lead. Valparaiso fought back to within to force a Cleveland State timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Vikings went on a five point run to put them three points away from taking the match at 22-16. Sitting at 24, for two rallies a kill by Kauth would bring the Vikings to a 25-18 victory capturing the Horizon League Volleyball Championship.
Valparaiso was led by freshman Katherine Carlson who had nine kills on a .176 hitting percentage. Sophomore Allison Ketcham added seven kills while sophomore Taylor Graboski finished with five. Defensive efforts were led by junior Morganne Longoria who had 14 digs. Senior Kelsey Berrington and sophomore Tarrah Lasky added eight digs each.
Cleveland State will learn their NCAA Tournament destination on Sunday, November 29 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Jessica Dood, Oakland
Jayden Julian, Northern Kentucky
Kelsey Barrington, Valparaiso
Allison Ketcham, Valparaiso
Grace Kauth, Cleveland State
Dayna Roberts, Cleveland State
Alexis Middlebrooks, Cleveland State (Tournament MVP)