'Birds Strike First, Shockers Rally to Top ISU, 3-1
Nov. 10, 2013
WICHITA, Kan. - Despite a fast start, the Illinois State volleyball team (16-10, 9-5) was defeated by the Wichita State Shockers (23-6, 12-3) Saturday in four sets (25-19, 14-25, 19-25, 24-26), dropping the Redbirds from third to fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The change in the standings comes after both Missouri State and Southern Illinois were victorious in their matches.
The Redbirds were led on the night by Ashley Rosch with her 19th career double-double (kills/digs), nabbing 12 kills and 15 digs in the match. Brooklyn Hlafka added 11 kills and a career-high 13 digs, Stacey Niao had 10 kills and a career-high tying 21 digs, and LeighAnn Hranka added 10 kills. Niao also added a career-high four service aces in the match, while Kaitlyn Early had 38 assists and 8 kills, hitting a team-high .538 for the match.
Starting off hot, the Redbirds received three kills from Hlafka in the opening set to nab an early lead, 9-3. Three Wichita State errors and a pair of kills by Hranka helped ISU extend the lead, 15-7. The Shockers pulled within four points, 18-14, but three more kills by Hranka and Niao's first service ace of the match helped the `Birds pad their lead, 22-15. Hlafka and Niao added a kill each to eventually give ISU a set-point, 24-18. A service error by the Redbirds gave the Shockers the ball, but the ensuing serve by WSU was into the net to effectively end the set and put the Redbirds up, 25-19. The Redbirds outhit the Shockers in the set, .387 to .161.
Despite jumping out to a 5-4 lead on kills by Niao, Hlafka and Emily Schneider, Wichita State benefitted from three ISU errors and an Ashley Andrade kill to take the lead, 8-5. From that point, the Shockers would never relinquish the lead in the set, as they led by as many as 11 points en route to sealing the second set, 25-14. In the set, Andrade and Sam Sanders each picked up three kills while helping WSU to a .333 clip. Wichita State committed no attack errors in the set, while the Redbirds were plagued with eight. The Redbirds hit just .135 for the set, as Niao led the way with four kills.
The third set started much the same as the second, as the Redbirds took the lead, 5-4, on a kill from Niao. After an exchange of points, Andrade broke a 7-7 tie with a kill to open up the scoring for Wichita State. Once again, they would not relinquish the lead, as ISU committed five errors to help the Shockers take a 16-12 lead. Sanders and Ashlyn Driskill each had three kills in the set, as WSU would eventually pull away, locking up the set, 25-19. The Redbirds did record a match-high four blocks in the set but were limited to a .119 attack percentage.
The final frame proved to be a set of inches, as the Redbirds narrowly missed converting multiple kills by narrow margins, leading to a match-high 12 attack errors. Despite the struggles, ISU viciously fought their way back into the match, negating a 3-0 start by the Shockers to eventually hold the lead, 9-6. Out of a timeout taken by WSU, the Redbirds held their lead at 12-9 until Katie Reilly ignited the Shockers offense, reeling off three consecutive kills while helping Wichita State take the lead, 14-13. From there, the two teams exchanged jabs, never allowing their opponent to lead by more than two points.
Tied late in the set, 21-21, consecutive ISU errors and a kill by Reilly gave the Shockers a match-point, 24-22. Niao responded by adding her 10th kill of the match, as ISU got help from a Wichita State error to even things up, 24-24. Fittingly so, seniors Chelsey Feekin and Andrade recorded the final two points of the match on senior night in Koch Arena, utilizing a kill and a solo block respectively, and Wichita State seeled the victory, 26-24.
The Redbirds will return to action against Northern Iowa Thursday, Nov. 14, in Redbird Arena.
All Redbird matches can be heard live on GoRedbirds.com and WJBC.com.
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