ISU Volleyball Falls to UNI in Three Sets
LeighAnn Hranka

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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State volleyball team (7-6, 1-2 MVC) fell to Northern Iowa (10-5, 2-0 MVC) in three sets (16-25, 23-25, 24-26) at Redbird Arena Friday night. Emily Schneider led the Redbird attack with nine kills and a .467 hitting percentage, while teammate Kaitlyn Early dished out 32 assists in the loss.

ISU and UNI traded points to start the first set, but the Panthers quickly got out to a five-point advantage in the first half of the set. Illinois State bounced back, thanks to two kills and a service ace by LeighAnn Hranka, following an attacking error by the Panthers to get within one point at 11-10. UNI responded with back-to-back kills by Krista Degeest, giving the Panthers their largest lead of the set at six points, 18-12, forcing an ISU timeout. Out of the timeout, the Redbirds got kills from Schneider and Hranka, but couldn't stop UNI's quickness at the net and dropped the first set, 25-16.

The Redbirds and the Panthers traded points in the second set until UNI took a 13-8 lead, after Megan Lehman recorded a kill. Down by six, 17-11, Illinois State regained momentum with a five-point run to cut Northern Iowa's lead to one, 17-16. ISU battled back and took a one-point lead, its first of the match, after back-to-back attacking errors by the Panthers. The two teams fought for the final points of the set, and at set point for Northern Iowa, 24-20, Illinois State refused to give up. An attack error by UNI and a kill by Schneider put the Redbirds within two, 24-22. ISU would get within one, but UNI closed the set with a kill, 25-23. The Panthers went into the locker room at the break with a two set advantage.

 The third set was a battle, as the two teams exchanged points. However, attacking errors by the Redbirds and strong offensive plays by the Panthers gave UNI a four-point advantage, 16-12. Northern Iowa maintained their four-point lead late in the set, but Illinois State refocused and got within one point, 20-19, after three-straight kills by Hranka, Brooklyn Hlafka and Early. The set went into extra points, as the two teams battled to the finish, but UNI came out on the winning side in the final set, 26-24, to take the match.

The Redbirds will be back on the court Saturday night, as they continue Valley play against Bradley. The `Pack the Arena' match will begin at 7:05 p.m.

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