Redbirds Handle Southern Illinois in Five Sets
Jenny Menendez
Jenny Menendez

Nov. 16, 2012

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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State (16-10, 10-7 MVC) volleyball team defeated Southern Illinois (20-8, 10-7 MVC) in five sets on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena Friday night The Redbirds were led by Ashley Rosch with 18 kills and Brooklyn Hlafka added 17 kills. Kaitlyn Early posted a career-high 59 assists and Jenny Menendez recorded a career-high 40 digs.

The Redbirds started out the set with a 3-1 lead with the help of a huge block from Emily Schneider and Rosch. Southern Illinois earned the next three points for its first lead of the match, 4-3. The teams traded points through the middle of the set, until ISU broke away at the 20-point mark with two kills from Rosch and two Saluki errors, 22-15. Kills from Schneider and Hlafka in the final points closed the set, 25-19. Hlafka led the team in the first set with five kills.

SIU marked the first two points on the board in the second set with kills from Taylor Pippen and Jessica Whitehead, 2-0. Illinois State committed four-straight ball handling errors for a 6-2 Saluki advantage. Southern Illinois tallied an additional three-point string, forcing the Redbirds to call a timeout, 12-7. After the timeout, ISU blast three-consecutive kills, two coming from Schneider, 12-10. Whitehead answered right back and posted three kills in four points to extend the Saluki lead 16-11. The Redbirds were able to tie the set 23-23, but a kill from Alysia Mayes and an ISU error ended the set 25-23 in a SIU victory.

Stacey Nioa was on fire after the break, recording four kills and a block in five points to give ISU a 10-4 lead. The Salukis were able to compile a three-point run, but kills from LeighAnn Hranka and Rosch put the `Birds ahead 15-9. Illinois State continued to control the rest of the set, and two-consecutive kills from Rosch, a kill from Hranka and an Illinois State block concluded the set 25-19. The Redbirds only had three attack errors and tallied a team .333 hitting percentage in the third set.

ISU jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but four Redbird errors tied the set 6-6. Two kills from Laura Thole and two additional Illinois State errors extended Southern Illinois lead, 11-6. The Salukis continued to expand their lead, earning the next four points and forcing ISU to call a timeout, 16-8. The Redbirds trailed by as many as 11 points, until Ciera Lucich entered the lineup and recorded a kill for ISU, 20-10. Illinois State made a great comeback, earning four-straight points, but struggled to regain a lead and fell 25-19.

In the final set, Illinois State opened with a 4-1 lead with the help of a kill from Schneider and three-consecutive kills from Hlakfa, forcing SIU to call a timeout. The Redbirds were the first to reach eight points with a kill from Niao, followed by a score from Early and urged the Salukis to use their final timeout, 9-4. ISU continued to press and posted two kills from Rosch and Early and an ISU block to end the match 15-13.

The Redbirds will host Evansville Saturday at 7:05 p.m., in their final home match of the regular season. ISU will recognize senior Jenny Menendez for the contributions and accomplishments throughout her time as a Redbird volleyball player. After the on court recognition following the match, there will be a Senior Night social in the Legends Room in Redbird Arena. Saturday night is also Fan Appreciation Night.

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