Illinois State fell to Valparaiso in four sets, (25-15, 22-25, 28-30, 22-25) last night at Redbird Arena.
“It’s a tough loss against a very good team. I have a lot of respect for that program … Would’ve liked to have won this, obviously, but like I told the team before, this is practice,” Melissa Myers, Illinois State head coach, said. “This is an opportunity for us to get in there tonight and play a very good team.”
The first set began with ISU taking the lead, 3-0. A double block by Ashley Rosch and Emily Schneider gave ISU a 5-3 lead. Rosch got ISU another point by sending the ball deep into Valpo’s backcourt for a kill. Valparaiso gave up a couple hitting errors and Brooklyn Hlafka slammed down a kill to extend the ’Birds lead to 11-5. After a Valpo timeout, the Crusaders converted a kill, but ISU answered with a set over the net for a kill. Emily Orrick served an ace, bringing the score to 13-6. The Redbirds then went on a 5-0 run, with Stacey Niao putting down a kill before LeighAnn Hranka got a solo block. After the solo block, Kaitlyn Early and Niao put away kills making the score 19-7. Valpo went on a 3-0 run before Hranka put down a kill making the score 20-11. ISU took the first set 25-15, ending the set with a kill by Hlafka.
Valparaiso took an early lead in the second set, 4-3. Rosch put down a kill to tie the score up 4-4. Offensive errors from ISU gave Valpo an extended lead, 7-4. Schneider and Rosch put up a double block to side out, and Hranka put down a kill to bring the ’Birds within one, 7-6. Both teams trade points and another kill from Hranka tied the game up at 12. Hranka and Niao got kills, but it was not enough to take the lead, as Valpo stayed sharp on offense. Valpo won the second set 25-22, on a kill from outside hitter, Sarah Dooms.
“We knew they were going to come out and fight, and we knew that they were going to have a very scrappy defense. But we need to know that we need change our shots up and we have to do something different than we’ve previously done,” Niao said.
The third set began with hitting errors by ISU. A service ace by Orrick tied up the set 6-6. Valpo went on a 3-0 run before ISU answered with a kill from Niao. Followed by Niao’s kill were two hitting errors from Valpo, which tied up the score again, 9-9. The teams traded points and leads as they went down the stretch. A Valpo service error had the teams tied 23-23. Hlafka and Hranka put down kills to bring the score 26-25, ISU’s lead. It was not enough to take away Valpo’s momentum as they beat ISU 30-28.
The fourth and final set started out in Valparaiso’s favor. ISU went on a 3-0 run to take the lead with a kill from Rosch and hitting two errors from Valpo, to bring the score to 9-5. The teams tied at 10 by an attack error by ISU. The Redbirds took back the lead at 16-15 with a kill from Hranka. Valpo fought back for the lead and after an ISU hitting error, the ’Birds called timeout. Niao slammed down a kill following the timeout, but had a service error right after. The Redbirds and Crusaders were tied up three times before the Crusaders took the final set, 25-22.
“It came down to a few errors. When you start adding up the little things, it’s the little things … that [make the] difference in the match,” Myers said.
“Orrick had 28 digs tonight, so she’s playing great, she’s doing really good things. She’s keeping us in system. We’re not executing on offense and we have to figure that out,”
Despite the loss against Valparaiso on Monday, junior and first-year libero Emily Orrick was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week. Over the weekend when the Redbirds competed against Northern Iowa and Drake, Orrick compiled 60 digs, nine assists and two service aces. She also averaged 8.57 digs per set.
“I’m very comfortable and I know that our defense is incredible right now because we’re number one in digs,” Orrick said. “I love playing defense with these girls and I know our defense can improve.”
She tied her career-high of 30 digs while adding six assists against the Northern Iowa Panthers. In ISU’s victory against Drake, Orrick added 30 more digs to her stats and restricted the Bulldogs to a .114 attack percentage. Orrick is currently ranked fifth, all-time in program history digs per set.
Orrick and the Redbirds will take on Indiana State at 7 p.m. on Friday in Terre Haute, Ind.