ISU Steadily Improves, But Suffers Sweep to Spanish Nationals
Katie Seyller
Katie Seyller

May 14, 2007

BRNO, Czech Republic - Illinois State's volleyball team's rustiness and potential were both on display in the early stages of its first Spring Cup Tournament match in Brno, Czech Republic Monday evening. The Redbirds were dominated in game one, but fought back and strung together consecutive competitive efforts in being swept by the Spanish national team (25-9, 25-15 and 25-22) in an international-ruled match at City Hall.

The Spaniards broke a 4-4 tie with a commanding 12-0 run, building a 16-4 advantage. Spain's Helia Gonzalez had two kills and a block in the stretch. ISU's Kari Staehlin responded with three kills in seven points to trim the lead to 22-9, but the Spanish nationals finished the stanza on a 3-0 spurt capped off by Elena Garcia's game-clinching service ace.

The second frame was a much more tightly contested game through the first 15 possessions, as the Spaniards held just a two-point lead (9-7) at the stanza's first timeout. After falling behind by as many as five points, ISU cut the lead to two points (16-14) after a kill by Peggy Riessen. But Spain finished the game on a 9-1 run to clinch the 25-15 victory. Katie Seyller contributed three blocks in the frame to lead the Redbirds.

Illinois State was the aggressor in the first half of game three, building a 16-13 lead after a service ace by Erin Lindsey. But the Spaniards quickly answered with a 6-2 run to take a 19-18 lead they would not relinquish. After Spain forced game point at 24-20, the Redbirds mounted a mini-charge with an assisted block by Lindsey and Staehlin and a Jessica Pratapas service ace. But the Spanish nationals put the finishing touches on a 25-22, come-from-behind win after forcing an ISU service error.

"Overall I was pleased with how we played today," said head coach Sharon Dingman. "The good thing is that we are going to keep improving as we go along. We haven't been playing lately, so our timing was a little off early in the match. We'll continue to work on some things, and be a much improved team by end of this trip. We're looking to the challenge ahead."

The Redbirds will face the Czech Republic national squad Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the second of four matches of the Spring Cup.