|ISU ends season in MVC semis|
|Written by Michael Boyd, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 28 November 2010 22:26|
The Illinois State volleyball team wrapped up its season Friday with a loss to No. 11 Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Redbirds defeated the Indiana State Sycamores Friday Nov. 19 to secure the No. 5 seed in the tournament and upset the Missouri State Bears in the first round.
The ‘Birds were eager to defend their home court against the Sycamores on senior night and wasted little time in the 3-0 sweep (25-20, 25-22, 29-27). Senior outside hitter Mallory Leggett led the way for Illinois State recording 11 kills paired with 12 digs in her last appearance on Doug Collins Court. Senior middle blocker Hailey Kelley also made the most of her last home match pitching in six kills and four blocks.
The Redbirds had to deal with more than just the Indiana State attack to come away with the victory as some of the emotions from senior night started to sink in late in the third set.
“Once we got to the 24th point, I started tearing up a little bit,” Leggett said. “It made things a little tougher but you just have to play through it.”
“For me it was more afterwards when the realizations struck in,” Kelley said. “I feel like most of the game I was fine but when we got to the end and started singing the fight song and talking to the fans for the last time I started bawling and crying all over the place and now I can’t stop.”
On Thanksgiving the ‘Birds traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on the No. 4 seed Missouri State Bears in the quarterfinals of the State Farm MVC Tournament. For the first time since 2007, ISU was able to win a match in the tournament behind double-digit kill efforts from four players in four sets (25-19, 18-25, 25-18, 25-21).
Freshman middle blocker LeighAnn Hranka paced ISU offensively with 13 kills. Kelley matched her season-high with 11 kills while Leggett and freshman outside hitter Shannon McGlaughlin each added 10.
Junior setter Kristin Stauter played a large role in the offensive success dishing 47 set-assists over the four sets. Sophomore libero Jenny Menendez kept the Bear offense in check recording a match-high 21 digs.
“This is a fantastic win for us,” Illinois State head coach Melissa Myers said. “Missouri State played fantastic in the second set, getting 10 more kills than we did, but we regrouped during the intermission and came out strong in the final two sets. Our defense was great getting some key digs and starting off each set with a block. I am really proud with how we executed in the end tonight.”
The following day the red-hot Redbirds tried to tame the top-dog in No. 1 seeded Northern Iowa, but came out on the wrong end of a three-set sweep (25-17, 25-16, 25-21). It was the third time this season the Panthers have bested the Redbirds.
“Northern Iowa played well all around,” Myers said. “They played sharp offensively with only seven errors and defensively with 11 blocks. We played hard and didn’t give them a lot of points, with only three unforced errors. Northern Iowa was sharp, efficient and showed why they have had so much success this season.”
This time McGlaughlin’s double-double led the ‘Birds with 11 kills and 10 digs. Hranka had 10 kills while Leggett added nine in her final match in red and white. The Panthers showed why they are a force to be reckoned with reaching 53 kills while only committing seven errors. The Redbirds could only muster 40 kills while doubling UNI’s error total with 14.
Illinois State ends the season with a 19-14, 8-10 MVC record.