Comeback Falls Short, Redbirds Lose to Marquette
The Illinois State Volleyball Team
The Illinois State Volleyball Team

Sept. 25, 2013

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. - On the cusp of pulling off an improbable comeback, the Illinois State volleyball team (9-4, 2-0) fell to Marquette (7-4) in a thrilling fifth-set (22-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-17) Wednesday in the Al McGuire Center. Stacey Niao led the Redbirds with 16 kills and 10 digs, while LeighAnn Hranka contributed 15 kills and 16 digs. Kaitlyn Early added 50 assists in the match, while five Redbirds ended with double-digit digs.

In the first set, both teams were evenly matched, trading punches en route to a 16-16 score. Two Golden Eagle errors and a kill by Ashley Rosch gave ISU the edge, 20-17. Three kills by Lindsey Gosh helped MU battle back, as the score was deadlocked, 22-22. Two service aces by Gosh and a kill by Elizabeth Koberstein ended the set, with Marquette winning 25-22.

The second set started much the same as the first, as both teams battled each other to tie the score, 9-9. Marquette began to pull away following a service error by the Redbirds, as Gosh and Jackie Kocken recorded three kills each to establish a strong lead for Marquette, 19-12. The Redbirds were stifled by the defense of Marquette, as ISU hit .000 in the set, eventually falling 25-18.

Following halftime, the Redbirds responded to the deficit, rallying behind the efforts of Niao and Hranka. Both players recorded six kills in the set and the `Birds fought off elimination. Emily Orrick led the defense, picking up eight digs in the set as ISU negated an errorless-offensive set by the Golden Eagles, eventually winning 25-22.

The fourth set was the most lopsided of the night, as the Redbirds offense erupted, knocking 15 kills as a team to just three errors, while hitting .343 to Marquette's .068. Tied 7-7, kills by Niao, Hranka, Eliza Smith and Emily Schneider helped ISU pull away, putting their lead at 18-10. Multiple errors by the Golden Eagles combined with kills by Niao and Rosch gave Illinois State a set point, 24-17. The set concluded on a service error by Gosh, pushing the match to a fifth set.

In the final frame, the Redbirds jumped out to a commanding lead early, capitalizing on five errors by Marquette while getting kills from Rosch, Niao and Hranka, 8-3. Five Redbird errors allowed the Golden Eagles to get back into the match, as Gosh, Kocken and Autumn Bailey added kills, tying things up 14-14. A service error by Gosh gave the Redbirds a match point, but kills by Bailey and Meghan Niemann gave Marquette the edge, 16-15. After a gutsy rally, an attack by Niao sailed long, landing out of bounds and giving the Golden Eagles the victory.

The Illinois State volleyball team will return to the court Friday, Sept. 27 at 7:05 p.m. (CT) as they host the Indiana Sycamores for a conference match in Redbird Arena.

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