Over the weekend, the Illinois State volleyball team went 2-1 for its first tournament of the 2013 season at the Hampton Inn Invitational. Helping the team to achieve a 2-1 record, sophomore Ashley Rosch and junior Emily Schneider were selected for the All-Tournament Team. Schneider had 29 kills and 16 total blocks during the tournament while Rosch contributed 37 kills and 22 digs.
“Ashley Rosch and Emily Schneider had consistently strong plays throughout the tournament,” head coach Melissa Myers said. “It was encouraging to see both Kaitlyn Early and Brooklyn Hlafka put together strong performances this weekend as well.”
ISU vs. IUPUI
During the Redbirds season opener against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) the ’Birds defeated IUPUI in a five-set match, (26-24, 21-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-9). Rosch set the offensive pace by putting down five kills and helped on defense by getting nine digs in the first set. The teams were tied at seven when ISU had the advantage as IUPUI had two errors. Emily Orrick and Early put the score to 11-7 to give the Redbirds the lead. The teams were tied again at 24 when Early and LeighAnn Hranka tallied two more points to win the set.
“Our team responded well to a very stubborn IUPUI team to open our season,” Myers said.
ISU dropped the second set but came back in the third set with a .318 attack percentage and won, giving the ’Birds a 2-1 lead.
IUPUI took the fourth set, forcing the teams to enter a 15-point fifth set. Three kills came early from Rosch, which gave ISU a 6-2 lead. IUPUI committed errors on four of the last five points to give ISU the win. Rosch ended the game with a kill to give ISU the victory.
“I was happy to see how well our team handled that match and executed in the fifth set,” Myers said.
ISU vs. Florida Gulf Coast
The momentum from Friday’s match stuck with the ’Birds throughout the match against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in which ISU had a sweep win, (25-22, 25-15, 25-13). Rosch came back with a strong swing, earning 10 kills for the Redbirds. Early accumulated 28 assists, helping ISU to its best start since 2010. Adding to the solid offense was Hlafka and Hranka, who helped give the team a 20-12 lead. ISU backed down a bit, allowing the Eagles to bring the score to 22-19. Hlafka ended the set with a kill for ISU to win 25-22.
ISU dominated during the second set finishing the game 25-15. Then the Redbirds brought their attack percentage to .406 during the third set and won 25-13.
“We were very efficient against FGCU to start the day on Saturday,” Myers added.
ISU vs. Virginia Commonwealth
Despite ISU’s strong offense in the past matches, they lost the last match against Virginia Commonwealth in four sets, (25-15, 22-25, 23-25, 21-25). With the ’Birds up 12-0 in the first set, Early had two service aces, one kill and an assist over the span of six-consecutive points. This helped extend their lead to 18-10. Early kept it going by adding another kill and assist toward the end, and ISU claimed victory, 25-15.
VCU went on a run during the second set and took a big lead, 14-6. The ’Birds fought back with Rosch smashing four kills and Hlafka and Hranka putting down three kills each. VCU answered and took the set 25-22. During the third set VCU had a few errors early that ISU capitalized on and had a 5-1 lead. VCU came back and tied the set up at 12. The Redbirds lost the third set, 25-23.
ISU had a 4-0 lead in the fourth set, but VCU recorded four service aces throughout the set. The Redbirds picked it up on offense but it was not enough to win the set. VCU took the set 25-21.
“We couldn’t overcome a tough VCU team Saturday afternoon,” Myers said.
“We have a short week this week as we head to Reno on Wednesday. The tournament this past weekend helped us to see areas we need to work on as we prepare for the UR tournament.”
The ’Birds will continue play on Friday against Grand Canyon in the Nevada-Reno Tournament in Reno, Nev.