The Illinois State volleyball team encountered its first conference loss on Friday against Northern Iowa in four sets, (23-25, 25-17, 21-25, 23-25) forcing it into second place in the Missouri Valley Conference. However, the ’Birds found success against Drake on Saturday, winning in three sets, (25-17, 25-17, 25-19).
The Panthers took an early lead in the first set, 3-0. Sisters Courtney and Shleby Kintzel added several kills, bringing the score to 18-13, in UNI’s favor. Brooklyn Hlafka put away a kill before Stacey Niao had back-to-back kills and the Panthers forced two errors. This tied the set up 18-18. The teams traded points and tied the score up again at 23, but UNI put down consecutive kills to win the first set, 25-23.
The Redbirds came out swinging hard in the second set, as they outhit the Panthers, .154 to -.025. The teams were tied 14-14 when Hlafka put down two kills and Kaitlyn Early collected a kill and the Panthers gave up two errors to give ISU a five-point advantage, 19-14. Ashley Rosch tacked on three more kills and two errors from UNI gave ISU set-point. Emily Schneider ended the set with a kill, to give ISU the win over the second set, 25-17.
UNI came back after halftime with its best offensive set of the match, hitting .241 as whole. The teams were tied at 18 before Eryca Hingtgen put away three kills for UNI. ISU gave up three errors and UNI put away kills to end the third set, 25-21. Emily Orrick recorded 10 digs in the set.
UNI found its grove in the fourth and final set, putting down six kills while the Kintzel sisters had three each. ISU was tied with UNI 13-13, and a kill by Hlafka gave ISU the one-point lead. A setting-error by the Redbirds allowed the Panthers to get ahead, but the teams continued to go back-and-forth with points due to errors. Tied again at 23, Hingtgen and Macy Ubben put down kills to take the match from ISU.
ISU took on the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday and defeated them in three sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-19). Emily Orrick compiled 30 digs in the match against the Bulldogs while Early had 38 assists, seven digs, three service aces and six kills.
“I’m happy with the win, but I don’t feel we had as fresh of legs as I would’ve liked to have seen,” ISU Head Coach Melissa Myers said.
The first set started with an ace by Drake, but Early and LeighAnn Hranka both put away kills to take an early lead, 2-1. Early’s three-consecutive aces helped ISU extend its lead, 10-4. Drake tacked on six errors to bring the score to 22-15 before Hlafka put away three kills to end the set, 25-17.
“Drake showed us that they have really good defense tonight,” Myers added.
ISU took the lead in the second set until a 7-3 run by Drake tied the score at 11. The teams traded points and were tied again 16-16. After a service error by the Bulldogs, the Redbirds scored the last five points to end the set, 25-17.
Drake was ahead in the third set, 6-3, before Schneider knocked down three kills to even the score, 9-9. Hranka and Hlafka put away kills to help the ’Birds take a 12-9 lead. The Bulldogs called a timeout, but the Redbirds continued to produce kills and bring the score to 23-17. Hranka and Niao’s kills helped end the match against the Bulldogs at 25-19.
“We’ve got some tough matches this week, starting with Valparaiso on Tuesday. I’m curious to see how we perform in the week ahead,” Myers said.
The ’Birds play at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow in Redbird Arena against Valparaiso.