Redbirds Top Missouri State to Stay Undefeated in the Valley
Oct. 12, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - A day after taking sole-possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Illinois State volleyball team remained undefeated in the league and at home with a four-set victory over Missouri State (25-16, 25-23, 18-25, 27-25) Saturday night at Redbird Arena.
Ashley Rosch led the Redbirds (14-4, 7-0 MVC) with 17 kills, one shy of her season-high, while Kaitlyn Early recorded a career-best seven kills for a .375 hitting percentage. Early also contributed 46 assists and 15 digs, and Emily Schneider registered two solo blocks plus six block assists. Missouri State's (11-8, 3-4 MVC) Olivia Brand tallied a match-high 19 kills.
"I'm just so happy for our team and the way the ladies played today," Melissa Myers said of her team's performance. "Missouri State was amazing on defense and they really forced us into a lot of tough points. I wanted us to earn this win and I feel we really had to grind it out right there at the end, but we came through. I'm so proud of this team."
Missouri State took an early lead in what began as a back-and-fourth opening set. Tied, 10-10, the Redbirds went on a 6-1 run, with two kills by Rosch and a service ace and kill by LeighAnn Hranka during the stretch. The Bears pulled within three, 16-13, before Illinois State answered with a 5-1 run, including two Schneider kills, to take a 21-14 advantage. ISU ended the set on a 9-3 run, with a cross-court kill by Hranka to secure the set point, 25-16.
Stacey Niao earned back-to-back service aces for an early Illinois State second-set advantage. However, the Bears scored six-unanswered points to gain a 6-3 lead. The Redbirds later pulled within 10-9 on a kill by Brooklyn Hlafka, following a lengthy rally, but Missouri State retained its advantage. With the Bears leading late in the set, 21-17, ISU manufactured a 5-0 run to take a 22-21 lead on a Hranka ace. Illinois State held on to win the set, 25-23, with the set point coming on a Missouri State attacking error.
The Redbirds jumped ahead early again in the third set, taking a 6-2 lead before the Bears went on an 8-1 run to gain a 10-7 advantage. Missouri State then outscored the Redbirds 7-2 to lead 17-9, but ISU earned three-straight points to pull within five. Illinois State narrowed MSU's advantage to 22-17 on a kill by Rosch, before the Bears outscored the Redbirds 4-1 to clinch the 25-18 third-set victory.
After Missouri State built a 7-3 lead to start the fourth set, Illinois State responded with an 8-2 run to take an 11-9 advantage. Niao earned two kills during the stretch. After MSU regained the lead, ISU once again tied the set, 17-17, with back-to-back kills by Niao.
The Bears entered the home-stretch with a 22-19 advantage, but Illinois State tallied five-unanswered points to lead 24-22. However, MSU scored the next three points to force extras. With ISU trailing, 25-24, Hranka recorded a kill to even the set. Early and Schneider earned two-consecutive kills to clinch the match.
With a challenging weekend of home matches in the books, the Redbirds face another tough Valley opponent by next traveling to third-place Northern Iowa, Oct. 18, followed by Drake, Oct. 19. Live coverage of both matches is available on GoRedbirds.com.
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