The Illinois State volleyball team stepped on the court Saturday, splitting up the squad into two teams to compete against each other in the annual red and white volleyball scrimmage. The red team defeated the white team for the second year in a row, 2-1 (21-25, 29-27, 25-23).
“From our standpoint we have LeighAnn Hranka and Ashley Rosch returning. Those two, we are expecting to carry a heavy load offensively,” head coach Melissa Myers said. “Emily Schneider has also been doing well [and] Brooklyn Hlafka can always be impressive. I think we’ve got other great players in the mix. I think everyone’s contributing at this point.”
Myers’ hope for the scrimmage was to get students and fans excited about watching the team this season.
“It was a competitive scrimmage and was a good opportunity for us to see what areas of our game we need to focus on as we prepare for opening weekend,” Myers said.
Throughout the match, the red team proved to have a solid defense with 13 blocks and 55 digs. Junior Emily Orrick had 18 digs, while Schneider had two solo blocks and seven block assists.
On the white team, junior setter Kaitlyn Early tallied 37 assists. With her help, Hlafka and junior Ciera Lucich were able to tally 10 kills each.
“Our blocking looked strong, but we want to sharpen our offensive consistency and connections this week,” Myers said.
“I thought the scrimmage went well. Both sides had a lot of defensive saves and took a lot of hard swings,” senior middle blocker Hranka said.
“We wanted to have fun [during the scrimmage] but also show everyone how hard we worked over the spring and summer. It was awesome to be back in Redbird Arena and we are excited to start our season.”
Before the match, the Redbirds honored Linda Herman, who has spent over 30 years at Illinois State as a coach and administrator, and served as senior women’s administrator and director of athletics. Herman has also been selected as a member of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame induction class.
Prior to the scrimmage and the start of the academic year at ISU, the volleyball team was hard at work during its preseason.
“I think we had a really good preseason,” Myers said. “We had a really good summer and spring semester [so we were able to] start at a higher level when the preseason began.”
With a large number of veterans returning to the squad, Myers feels confident in her team as they enter the regular season returning 12 of 13 players.
The ’Birds will open the 2013 season on Aug. 30 in Indianapolis, Ind., at the IUPUI Tournament.