|ISU fights high altitude to go 2-1 in tournament|
|Written by Michael Boyd, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 12 September 2010 20:01|
The Illinois State volleyball team had to battle more than just three opponents over the weekend in the Rams Volleyball Classic.
The Redbirds (8-3) traveled to Ft. Collins, Colo., to take on the Northeastern Huskies, the Texas Tech Red Raiders and No. 15 Colorado State Rams, but also found themselves fighting the high altitude up in the Rockies.
“It’s interesting because it makes the serve really tough, obviously there is less density in the air so the ball will tend to float,” Illinois State head coach Melissa Myers said.
“When they hit balls they will catch air and just keep going because the ball is light. You see it more often with the serves.”
ISU vs. Northeastern
It did not take the ‘Birds long to adjust to the higher altitude on Friday, when they beat the Huskies 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17).
The first set was tied six separate times, the latest at 19-19 before an ace from senior outside hitter Mallory Leggett and two Northeastern errors gave the set to ISU.
The second set was a little more lopsided with the Redbirds jumping out to a 19-13 lead.
Junior middle blocker Tabitha Visk added a service ace and after a Husky error, junior setter Kristin Stauter and senior middle blocker Hailey Kelley teamed up for a block to give the ‘Birds the set.
The Huskies rebounded well in the third set and were able to knot up the score at 16. Nine straight ISU points featuring three kills, two blocks and an ace, gave the Redbirds the 3-0 sweep.
“This was one of the most well-executed matches we have had all season,” Myers said. “We really executed our serve well. In the third set, Northeastern had 12 unforced errors which I think is a product of serving to the right spots and executing the game plan.”
ISU vs. Texas Tech
Illinois State took on the Texas Tech Red Raiders for the first of two matches Saturday and earned their third straight sweep, winning 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-15).
Leading the way for the ‘Birds was Leggett with 14 kills followed by senior middle blocker Katie Culbertson with nine. Stauter pitched in 38 set-assists and sophomore defensive specialist Jenny Menendez tallied 14 digs.
ISU held the narrow first-set lead at 13-12 before rattling off five-straight points to stretch the lead to 18-12.
The ‘Birds reached set point with a six-point lead but gave up two-straight points to shorten the gap. The Red Raiders would do no more damage, however, and a service error gave the Redbirds the set.
Starting quickly in the second set, the Redbirds earned a double-digit lead for the first time of the season at 16-6. Another 5-1 run from ISU stretched the lead to 23-9 but Texas Tech answered with a run of their own to bring the score to 24-13. Freshman outside hitter Shannon McGlaughlin assured there would be no comeback with a kill to give the Redbirds their biggest win of the season.
“I thought we executed a little better offensively today, there were more opportunities too of course but when those opportunities came up we took advantage of them,” Myers said. “We blocked better as the match went on, and I think that is a huge contributing factor to our serve doing well. When you serve well it makes it a little easier to block.”
ISU vs. Colorado State
The final match of the Rams Volleyball Classic featured another sweep, this time, however, the Redbirds were on the losing side and fell to No. 15 Colorado State 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-17).
The Redbirds were able to keep it close in the first set, maintaining a one-point lead through the first eight points. Colorado State answered with a 5-1 run before kills from McGlaughlin and Visk brought the ‘Birds within two, 13-11. The Rams closed the door on ISU with a 9-2 run to take the set.
The second set went back and forth for the first 13 points with the Rams leading 7-6. Ten kills, two blocks and a Redbird error later, the lead widened to 22-10. Facing set point, ISU scored two-straight, but it was not enough and the nationally ranked Rams took the second set in decisive fashion.
The pace of the last set was nothing like the first two, with the ‘Birds taking the lead two separate times. Trailing 16-14, Colorado State head coach Tom Hilbert took a time out to kill ISU’s momentum. It did just that and the Redbirds had seven attack errors during the Rams’ 11-1 run, ending the match.
It was not all bad news for the Redbirds, however, as both Leggett and Visk were named to the all-tournament team. Both players tallied 25 kills throughout the two-day tournament.
“The Rams are ranked 15th right now and Northern Iowa in our conference is ranked 18th in the country, so I think they are a comparable team in that respect,” Myers said.
The Redbirds are back in action Friday for their first Missouri Valley Conference match against the Indiana State Sycamores in Terre Haute, Ind. They then travel to Oxford, Ohio, Saturday for matches against the Miami Redhawks and the DePaul Blue Demons.