Volleyball knocks off Cleveland State

Sarah Daneliak

Sarah Daneliak recorded nine kills for the Flames. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The women’s volleyball team (11-4, 2-0 Horizon League) took down defending Horizon League Champion Cleveland State (8-5, 1-1 HL) by a score of 3-1 Saturday afternoon in the Flames Athletic Center. The victory was the Flames’ first against the Vikings since 2014.

Manuela Conte contributed on all fronts for UIC, leading the team on offense with 11 kills, while also bringing in 10 digs. Alex Drospoulou was back in action, collecting nine kills and 10 digs. Kyisha Hunt, Alit Witt and Sarah Daneliak each recorded nine kills for a well-balanced Flames offense.

Alexandria Hicks notched 10 kills and was error-free for a .625 hitting percentage. Daneliak and Witt ended the afternoon hitting at an identical clip of .471 after registering just one error apiece.

UIC recorded a season-high 12 blocks. Carla Salvato held up the defensive front with 15 digs, while setter Nicole Johnson added 12 digs to her 26 assists.

The Flames created space early in the first set with an 8-4 lead, and the Vikings were never able to catch up. UIC hit .500 as a team in the first set, with 18 kills to CSU’s 10. The Flames led by eight at 21-13, when Cleveland State strung together a trio of points to trim the gap to five. After a UIC timeout, the Flames regrouped and took four of the next five to take a 25-17 victory.

The second frame was action packed, with nine tie scores and six lead changes. Facing a 13-8 deficit, UIC scored four unanswered points to come within one,13-12. CSU took the next two, but the Flames responded with five-straight points to take the 17-15 lead. The Flames had a 22-19 lead when the Vikings took four of their own to retake the lead, 23-22. A pair of kills from Conte brought UIC to match point, but CSU took the next two to force the game into extra points. Hunt, Daneliak and Conte came to the rescue, delivering the three points needed for the Flames to take set two, 27-25.

Cleveland State pulled out to a 5-1 lead in set three, leaving the Flames to try to play catch-up through the frame. The Vikings led by as many as nine at the 17-8 mark, eventually taking the game 25-17 to cut UIC’s lead in half.

The fourth frame shaped up similarly to frame two, as the two teams were neck-and-neck. The Flames held their largest lead of the set at 15-12, but CSU took four of the next five to tie it at 16. The score then evened out six times before Witt and Conte put away the Vikings for good with a 25-23 win and 3-1 victory for UIC overall.

Starting Saturday, the Flames will hit the road for a four-game road series, as they continue Horizon League play against Green Bay.

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