The Redbirds have been predicted to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference this upcoming season. Coaches and players are generally not concerned with the grades critics give them, however players on the Redbirds have liked what they have seen since the conclusion of last season.
“We had a great spring as well as a great summer, we are really working hard in the weight room and on the court. We have a strong senior class as well as a lot of incoming freshman. You are going to see a lot of new faces as well as leadership so I think we are going to do very well this season,” sophomore setter Ratasha Garbes said.
Only two teams stand ahead of the ’Birds for the poll, five-time regular-season champion Wichita State and the University of Northern Iowa. Illinois State University will go up against these two MVC foes twice this season, with the Wichita State match finishing out the regular season at Redbird Arena. Wichita State took home the regular season as well as the MVC conference tournament championship last season.
As a squad, Illinois State knows exactly where they are and what they have to do in order to have a successful season.
“The past years we have been ranked around fifth and that is where we have been ending, so to be in the top three I think we are very honored about it. It’s not really in our minds too much, it is based on last year’s stats and what kind of returner we have, so I think what really matters is the poll at the end of the season,” senior defensive specialist Emily Orrick said.
With the team’s overall production in the front and center for the players, individual goals are always in the back of the player’s minds.
“I want to be a more reliable teammate, I also want to stay consistent. I want to stay consistent as a teammate and I want to be able to take the ball and prove what it is made of,” Orrick said.
Garbes also has some aspirations for the new season.
“Just work hard and put everything you have into this team, we are here for everybody and we all have each other’s back,” Garbes said.
Illinois State will have a chance to prove they deserve the number-three seeding for this season when they participate in this weekend’s University of Oregon Tournament. First squaring off against Central Arkansas, the women will then go to battle with the Ohio State Buckeyes as well as the University of Oregon Ducks.