Coming off impressive back-to-back wins in Iowa, Illinois State volleyball (11-7, 4-2 MVC) will look to keep the good times rolling as it prepares to play in Redbird Arena for the first time in nearly two weeks.
The four-game road trip got off to a bit of a rocky start, as the Redbirds lost a tough five-set match to the Evansville Aces (12-5, 3-3 MVC).
ISU followed that performance with another heartbreaker, this time falling to itsI-74 foe Bradley(8-9, 4-2 MVC) in the fifth and final set.
Playing on the road has been something of a struggle this season, and team captain Stef Jankiewicz made it a point of emphasis to correct as the season continues.
“I think it’s been small errors in small moments that take control of the game,” Jankiewicz said. “At home with our surroundings we’re able to control it better, I think as we go on in the season that’s something you’ll see change. We’ll be able to control those small moments.”
The adjustments made were on full display in the following match against the Drake (7-13, 1-6 MVC) as the Redbirds swept the Bulldogs off their home court in three sets.
Illinois State continued its hot play into the latest matchup against Northern Iowa (12-9, 6-1 MVC). On the brink of defeat multiple times throughout the match, the Redbirds stayed poised and took down the Panthers in five sets.
Among the standouts this past week was newcomer Emmy Ogogor who was named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Week.
The San Antonio, Texas, native combined for 16 kills backed with some key blocks in the wins over Drake and Northern Iowa.
Ogogor and the Redbirds will look to take down another undefeated Missouri Valley opponent Oct. 18 when Loyola-Chicago (13-6, 6-0 MVC) comes into town.
Sitting atop the MVC standings, Loyola heads into the match winners in 10 of its last 11 matches.
Still, playing on Illinois State’s home court is no easy task. The Redbirds protect the nest as well as any team in the country, winners in 13 of the last 14 home games dating back to the 2017 season.
The stage is set for an exciting showdown in what could potentially be an MVC playoff preview.
First serve between the Ramblers and Redbirds is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 18