By Kristen Keller
After two semi-final matches Saturday, the championship match for the Horizon League women’s volleyball championship has been decided. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and Northern Kentucky will face off Sunday at 2 p.m. to decide who wins the conference and gets the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
In the first match of the day, the No. 1 Phoenix took on the No. 4 UIC Flames, winning 3-1. The first three games were close matches, with both teams getting at least 20 points, while the fourth match ended 25-16.
Sophomore Taylor Wolf, who was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Year on Friday, led the way for Green Bay, tallying 24 kills and 11 digs. Her sister, Jessica Wolf, was second on the team in kills, finishing with 17.
“I’m just proud of us,” said Green Bay head coach Abbey Sutherland. “We’re going to continue to learn and continue to get better. That’s the goal.”
For the Flames, freshman Paola Santiago led the kills category, finishing with 15. Horizon League Freshman of the Year Kiera James, awarded the honor on Friday, was close behind, finishing with 14 kills and a .333 hitting percentage.
Following that match, No. 2 Cleveland State and No. 3 Northern Kentucky took the court in hopes of earning the second spot in the Horizon League final. Although Cleveland State was ranked higher, the Norse won the match, sweeping the Vikings 3-0. That cinched the competitors Green Bay and Northern Kentucky for Sunday’s match.
Leading the way for Northern Kentucky was senior Haley Libs. The outside hitter, who was named to the All-League First Team on Friday, finished with 11 kills and 11 digs on the night. Sophomore Natalie Hardig added nine kills to help the Norse.
“We are really just taking it one match at a time,” said Northern Kentucky head coach Liz Hart. “We are going to enjoy this moment and then we will start preparing for Green Bay. I’m just super proud of the team.”
The Vikings had three players contribute eight kills to the match, including senior Rachel Stover, junior Sara Skeens and sophomore Emily DeGeorge. These three players contributed to over half of the kills for the Vikings during the match.
Sunday’s championship game will begin at 2 p.m. in the Kress Events Center in Green Bay. The teams will play a best-of-five match to decide the Horizon League champions that will go to the NCAA tournament in December.