Sycamores Hand Redbirds Second Conference Loss
Stacey Niao led the Redbirds with 16 kills

Stacey Niao led the Redbirds with 16 kills

Oct. 25, 2013

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Illinois State volleyball team (15-7, 8-2) fell to the Indiana State Sycamores (10-12, 3-7) in four sets (23-25, 25-19, 25-27, 23-25) Friday, losing for just the second time against a Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) opponent this season. The loss, combined with a Wichita State victory, drops the Redbirds to second place in the conference.

The Redbirds were led by Stacey Niao who posted her sixth double-double (kills/digs) this season, picking up 16 kills and 10 digs. Ashley Rosch recorded the 17th double-double of her career, knocking 15 kills and 14 digs, while Brooklyn Hlafka added 12 kills. Junior setter Kaitlyn Early recorded 50 assists and 8 digs, while Emily Orrick led all Redbirds with 21 digs. ISU was limited to five total blocks as a team, two of which came in the fifth set.

Fiercely competitive throughout, a kill by Early tied the first set, 6-6. Kills by Niao, Hlafka and Rosch extended the lead to 9-7, but Indiana State responded, collecting three points on two kills and an ISU error, pushing the score to 13-10. Two more Sycamore kills, including a strong cross-court shot by MVC-leader Morgan Dall, combined with a Redbird error tied the score, 13-13. Exchanging jabs, the teams were tied deep into the set, 20-20, until Victoria Swigart of the Sycamores picked up her first ace of the match. Three more Indiana State kills and an ace locked up the first set, 25-23.

After dropping the first point of the second set, the Redbirds went on a tear, utilizing an 8-0 run to eventually go up 10-2. During that stretch, Emily Schneider picked up three kills while Rosch added two. Hlafka added three more kills, Niao added two and the Sycamores committed three errors to push the Illinois State lead to 21-12. The Sycamores responded, going on a 7-1 run to close the gap, 22-19, but Niao added two more kills, including the final point, to take the set, 25-19.

The third set featured more tightly contested action, as both teams were tied 22-22 late. Despite six kills by Niao during the stretch, and another five kills by Rosch, Bree Spangler exploded offensively for the Sycamores. Spangler collected nine kills in the set, including four of the Sycamores final five points, and Dall closed out the set for Indiana State, 27-25.

With their backs against the wall, the Redbirds demonstrated both hot and cold streaks during the fourth set. Tied 12-12, the Sycamores went on a 6-0 run, including four more kills by Spangler, to take the lead, 18-12. Kills by Hlafka and Rosch, combined with a Dall error, pulled the Redbirds closer, 18-15. Four Indiana State errors allowed the Redbirds to pull even, 20-20. Despite seemingly taking the momentum from the Sycamores, Dall ignited on offense, picking up three kills to solidify the victory for Indiana State, 25-23. Dall finished with a match-high 23 kills, while Spangler added 22.

The Redbirds return to action against Bradley Friday, Nov. 1, in Redbird Arena at 7:05 p.m. (CT).

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