ISU Volleyball Wins Valley Opener Over Evansville, 3-0

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Sept. 20, 2013

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NORMAL, Ill. - Ashley Rosch led the Illinois State volleyball team (8-3, 1-0 MVC) in its Missouri Valley Conference opener against Evansville (5-7, 0-1) Friday at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds defeated the Purple Aces in straight sets, 3-0, as Rosch tallied 13 kills and three block assists.

Brooklyn Hlafka added double-digit kills with 10 and had two block assists, while Stacey Niao just missed recording double-digits in the kills column, as she ended the match with nine. Emily Schneider and LeighAnn Hranka added six and four kills, respectively, for the Redbirds. Kaitlyn Early dished out 37 assists and had 13 digs. Emily Orrick recorded 13 digs, while Niao was close behind with 12. ¬

Illinois State jumped ahead of Evansville early in the first set, opening the match with an 8-1 lead. Niao and Hlafka both tallied two kills during the run. The Purple Aces tried to battle back and got within six, 16-10, but an ISU kill and an ace by Niao, along with an Evansville attack error put the Redbirds back up by nine. Evansville went on a 4-2 run trying to regain momentum, but a kill by Hlafka put ISU up, 23-16. Evansville couldn't overcome the early deficit, as ISU took the first set, 25-18. Hlafka led Illinois State with seven kills, as Early collected 14 assists in the opening set.

The two teams traded points to open the second set until Illinois State went on a 4-1 run, forcing an Evansville timeout. Coming out of the break, ISU continued to keep the momentum for two more points, taking a 12-6 lead. Back-to-back kills from Schneider and Rosch increased the Redbirds' lead to eight, 15-7, forcing the Purple Aces to take another timeout. ISU continued to dominate the second set with a convincing 20-10 lead and went on to win the set by 10 points, 25-15. ISU headed into the locker room with a 2-0 set lead at the break. Rosch led the Redbirds at the net with five kills, while Early dished out 11 assists.

In the third set, Evansville took its first lead of the match, until Illinois State battled back to tie the set, 5-5. The two teams continued to exchange points through the third set until Niao slammed the ball down for a kill from the back row, forcing the Purple Aces to take a timeout, 10-8. ISU used a 7-0 run to take a 14-8 lead, as Schneider had back-to-back kills during the run. Evansville answered with a 4-1 run of its own to get within three, 16-13, and took the momentum from Illinois State. The Purple Aces used the momentum to get within two points, 21-19, forcing a Redbird timeout for the first time in the match. The two teams were tied, 22-22, until Evansville got called for a net violation followed by an ISU ace, 24-22. The Redbirds got the kill to end the set, 25-22, and take the match.

The Redbirds return to the court Sunday at 1:05 p.m., as they host Southern Illinois.

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