Illinois State Thumps Northern Iowa 3-0
Oct. 7, 2005
Normal, Ill. - Head Coach Sharon Dingman earned her 100th career coaching victory as Illinois State beat Northern Iowa. The `Birds swept the Panthers in three games with the scores 30-19, 30-26 and 30- 15 on Friday night in a Missouri Valley Conference volleyball match Friday at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds, 9-6 overall, 5-2 in the Valley, out-hit the Panthers, 10-7, 4-2 in the Valley, by a .209 to negative-.046 as the UNI had five more errors than kills. ISU had a 47-35 dig advantage behind Ashley Grubb's 12, while UNI--No. 3 in the nation in blocking-- out-blocked the `Birds 12-11. Daniella Brazda had eight blocks for UNI. Emily Kabbes led ISU with six. It was Illinois State's fifth win in six matches, and the Redbirds' third straight 3-0 victory.
Dingman is 100-67 in her sixth season at Illinois State and 289-181 in her 15th season as a college head coach.
Kari Staehlin's 6-for-6 hitting sparked the Redbirds in game one. Staehlin had three kills as ISU took a 9-2 lead and were never threatened. Northern Iowa's 12 hitting errors included four Redbird blocks. The Redbirds had momentum on their side as they led the entire game to a final score of 30-19. Staehlin led all players with 11 kills in the match, hitting .667.
Northern Iowa went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-10 lead in game two. The Redbirds were forced to chase the Panthers. On ISU's third chance to tie, a Staehlin-Savannah Knowles block got the `Birds even at 26-26. Breaking free from the tie, the `Birds did not allow another UNI point. Mary Catherine Richmond contributed two clutch aces, scoring points 28 and 29, and served the final five points of the game, including Erin Lindsey's kill for game point.
Richmond felt confident in that spot.
"Sharon was telling me where to serve," said Richmond. "I just tried to serve aggressively."
A pair of service aces helped UNI take an 8-4 lead in game three, but, after a Knowles kill, Emily Kabbes stepped to the service line and fired-off eight more points and ISU led 13-8. The Redbirds expanded that run to 21-4, taking a 25-12 lead into the closing points.
The match featured the two winningest volleyball teams in conference history. The three previous ISU-UNI encounters each went the five-game limit, with ISU winning twice in Redbird Arena and UNI winning in the 2004 match at West Gym. Staehlin took a history lesson from the older Redbird players.
"Emily told us `we need to change the tradition of going five games with Northern Iowa,'" said Staehlin. "So that was a goal tonight. We thought we could win in three games and wanted to win in three games."
Dingman thought Staehlin's early kills made a difference.
"It helped having Kari on our team tonight," said Dingman. "Emily's blocking was pretty tremendous tonight. Even when we weren't blocking balls, we were touching a lot of them."
The six-point deficit for ISU was the fourth time in the last five matches the `Birds had rallied from behind at least that much to win a game.
"We have shown the ability to come back from any deficit," said Dingman. "We haven't shown the ability to keep leads, but in game one we proved that we do have it. We're starting to mature more and keep the confidence level high on our side."
UNI coach Bobbi Petersen was disappointed with her team, but gave credit to Illinois State.
"Some of it (the frustration) was the choices that our hitters made, but Sharon did a great job of realizing that we had a weaker (blocking) match-up with Staehlin," said Petersen. "We tell our players `a kill is a kill' but when (Staehlin) hit those balls straight down, it does something to your team. They did things to frustrate us."
The Redbirds' next match is at 2 p.m. Sunday against league-leading Bradley at Redbird Arena.