Sept. 14, 2013
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Cleveland State rallied after dropping the first set to defeat the Navy volleyball team in four sets, Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Vikings (7-2), who won the 2012 Horizon League title and competed in last year's NCAA Tournament, posted a 22-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-14 win over the Midshipmen (4-7).
"Cleveland Stated played like the league champions they are," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "they are an NCAA Tournament tested team."
Neither team was able to separate itself from the other in the first set. Cleveland State held a 21-20 lead when middle hitter Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) fed setter Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) for a kill to knot the score at 21-21. The Mids then took a one-point lead when Star Steele (So., Tampa, Fla.) and Cassel combined for a block, then McKenzie Bailey (Fr., Dublin, Ohio) dropped in a service ace to give the Mids a 23-21 lead. A service error by Bailey sliced the margin in half, but then Karika assisted on a Cassel kill to take the Mids to set point. Navy converted the opportunity on the next play when Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) notched a solo block.
The second set was close through the middle part of the frame. The score was tied at 16-16 when the Vikings went on a 4-0 run. The Mids closed the margin down to three points on several occasions, including at 24-21, but Cleveland State tallied the next point to even the match at one set apiece.
Cleveland State jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the third set and leads of 6-3 and 17-10 in the fourth set to close out the match.
"Today was a good indicator of where we are, in microcosm," said Bock. We played real good volleyball, with blocking, siding out, transition; everything clicking the first set and the first half of the second set. Then I got them a little bit out of rhythm."
Cleveland State posted a hitting percentage of .273 while limiting Navy to a mark of .099. The Vikings notched 62 kills while the Mids could muster just 38 kills. Cleveland State led Navy in digs, 65-58, with the Mids holding a 10-9 advantage over the Vikings in blocks.
Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.), whose family lives 15 minutes away from Cincinnati, led Navy with nine kills while also grabbing eight digs. Sylakowski posted eight kills and hit .471 while tallying four blocks, with Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) leading the Navy defense with 15 digs.
Navy will open its Patriot League season September 21 when it plays host to Lafayette.
"We had a really good tournament here in Cincinnati," said Bock, "which was not necessarily defined by wins and losses at this juncture. We played really good teams really tough. It was a good measuring stick for us for what we will see in league play starting next week. We have been tuned up really well and we are ready to go."