'Birds Remain Undefeated in MVC Play; Move to First Place in Conference
Kaitlyn Early

Kaitlyn Early

Oct. 11, 2013

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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State volleyball team (13-4, 6-0 MVC) defeated Wichita State (15-4, 5-1 MVC) Friday night at Redbird Arena in four sets. The two teams were both undefeated in Missouri Valley Conference play at the start of the match, but with the win, the Redbirds remain the only unbeaten team in Valley play and move into sole possession of first place in the conference.

Ashley Rosch led the Redbird hitters with 14 kills, while LeighAnn Hranka was close behind with 13 kills of her own. Stacey Niao was the third Redbird who recorded double-digit kills in the match, as she recorded 10. Kaitlyn Early handed out 46 assists, while Emily Orrick collected 30 digs. Hranka had seven block assists in the match, while Niao had five.

Illinois State scored four-straight points in the opening set to jump ahead to a 7-2 lead with kills from Early and Hlafka. Wichita State got back within two points, 9-7, but a 6-0 run by the Redbirds forced the Shockers to take a timeout with a score of 15-7. Three Redbirds had kills in the run, while Danielle Donahue recorded a service ace to go along with two attacking errors by WSU. Wichita State scored back-to-back points to try and slow the Redbirds, but it wasn't enough, as Illinois State went on to win the set, 25-14. Hranka led the Redbirds in the set with five kills on seven attempts. Niao and Hlafka both had three kills, while Orrick had seven digs and Early had 11 assists. ISU had six team blocks compared to two for WSU.

The Shockers took the momentum early in the second set, as they went on a 6-0 run off of five Redbird errors to take a 7-2 lead, forcing an ISU timeout. After the timeout, Wichita State went on an 8-1 run, making Illinois State use another timeout, 15-3. Illinois State used a 5-0 run of its own to force a Wichita State timeout, 23-11. The Redbirds scored two points after the timeout, but the late effort wasn't enough, as the Shockers won the set, 25-13 heading into the locker rooms. ISU had 10 attacking errors in the second set.

Illinois State had two 3-0 runs early in the third set to jump ahead to an 8-3 lead. The two teams traded points in the middle of the set, until the Redbirds scored four-straight points to increase their lead to seven, 18-11. Wichita State battled back in set and got within four, 22-18, but ISU ended the set with three-straight points to take the set, 25-18. Rosch led the Redbirds with seven kills, while Hranka and Emily Schneider both added three. Early dished out 14 assists, while Orrick recorded 13 digs in the set.

In the fourth set, the two teams traded points, until Illinois State went on a 3-0 run, taking a 12-6 lead and forcing a Wichita State timeout. The Redbirds kept the momentum late in the set and went on a 5-0 run to increase their lead to seven, 21-13. Hlafka had two kills in the run. After a called timeout by ISU, the Redbirds regrouped and scored back-to-back points, 23-16. WSU didn't have enough time to answer, as the Redbirds won the set, 25-18, to win the match and remain undefeated in conference play. Hranka, Rosch and Schneider each tallied four kills in the deciding set.

Illinois State returns to Redbird Arena Saturday to take on Missouri State at 7:05 p.m., to Paint the Arena Pink for Cancer Awareness Month. To acknowledge members of the community who have battled the difficult disease, cancer survivors will be recognized during the break in between the second and third sets. Fans will also get to enjoy $1 admission, $1 pink lemonades and $1 hotdogs, courtesy of Sodexo.

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