Defense Drives Illinois State Past Toledo
Kaitlyn Early

Kaitlyn Early

Final Stats  

Post-Match Interview

Sept. 8, 2012

TOLEDO, Ohio. -The Redbirds (5-4) displayed strong defensive efforts to defeat Toledo (3-5) in four sets (25-18, 21-25, 25-15, 25-14) at the Rocket Classic Saturday afternoon. Illinois State was led by outside hitters, Stacey Niao and Ashley Rosch who posted 14 kills each and combined for 23 digs. Jenny Menendez recorded 16 digs and Kaitlyn Early posted a match-high 45 assists and 14 digs.

"I think it was a balanced effort overall," head coach Melissa Myers said. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is for this team to be able to play together and have a good team chemistry. We are trying to build their chemistry and keep getting stronger."

Illinois State dug an early hole in the first set, compiling five-consecutive unforced errors (6-4). The Redbirds were able to regain the lead with blocks from Schneider, Niao and Early, and a kill from Rosch (12-7). ISU continued to spread the gap and tallied a six-point run with kills from LeighAnn Hranka and Brooklyn Hlafka, in addition to two back-to-back Toledo attack errors (21-12). A kill from Schneider gave the Redbirds a 25-18 first set win.

Both teams exchanged points through the start of the second set, until ISU committed three-straight errors to aid in a six-point run and a 20-14 lead for Toledo. Illinois State tallied a three-point string late in the set with a block and back-to-back kills from Hlafka and Niao, but could not regain the lead, falling 25-21.

After the break Illinois State earned an early three-point lead with the help of a kill by Hranka and an ISU block. A solo block and a kill on back-to-back plays from Early put the `Birds up 8-4. Illinois State continued to produce defensively and recorded three-straight blocks, including two-consecutive from Hranka and Hlafka (16-10). The Redbirds cruised through the rest of the set for a 25-15 victory.

The Redbirds started strong in the fourth set, jumping out to a 7-1 lead with two kills from Hlafka and a kill from Niao. The Redbirds maintained the lead throughout the match and finished with a 25-14 victory. Illinois State held the Rockets to a 0.086 team hitting percentage compared to the Redbirds .212. ISU recorded 14 additional digs than Toledo and posted 12 total team blocks in the match.

Illinois State will close tournament play against Memphis at 4 p.m. (CT).

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