The Northern Kentucky University volleyball season came to an end Saturday after losing to the number one seeded Cleveland State Vikings in the semi-finals of the Horizon League Tournament 3-1 (25-23,25-15,19-25,25-19) at Woodling Gymnasium.
The Norse (12-15 overall, 7-9 Horizon) were led by First Team All-League Haley Libs with her 37th career double-double (13 kills and 16 digs) and Laura Crawford with 11 kills. Shelby Olsen added a double-double as well with 40 assists and 11 digs.
Saturday also marked the end of four Norse careers: Drew Hendricks, McKenzie Eskridge, Georgia Childers and Kaitlyn Bowen.
The first set was back and forth with the score knotted at 16 after a kill by Viking outside-hitter Sara Skeens. Cleveland State used that momentum to spark a 5-0 run and take a 21-16 lead. The Norse tried to battle back after kills by Kelly Turner, Kaelin Gentile, Crawford and Libs to pull the Norse within one, 24-23. But the Vikings proved to be too much as Alexis Middlebrook and Emily DeGeorge ended the set with a block to seal the victory, 25-23.
The Norse looked to rebound in the second set, but the Vikings jumped out to an early 10-4 lead after a pair of kills from Trinniti Hall and Skeens. The Vikings were able to hold onto their sizeable lead the remainder of the set and cruised to a 25-15 victory.
With their tournament lives on the line, the Norse jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third set after a kill by Bailey Western. However, the Vikings would battle-back and go on a 7-1 run to knot the score at 10. The Norse would answer back with their own offensive burst and maintain the lead throughout to earn a 25-19 victory over the Vikings.
The Norse carried this momentum into the fourth frame to take an early 7-3 lead. However, the Vikings were able to overcome their early set woes and rattle off nine straight points to gain a 15-9 advantage after multiple kills from Skeens. The Vikings were able to control the remainder of the set and held off a late Norse rally (6-1 run) to clinch the set, 25-19.
Cleveland State finished the match with 65 kills and a hitting percentage of .258. The Vikings were led by Skeens with 20 kills, while Hall added 16. Horizon League Setter of the Year Gina Kilner recorded 50 assists and Defensive Player of the Year Shannon Grega tallied 20 digs.