Illinois State University volleyball (17-11, 10-6 MVC) won for the third straight match Saturday night after taking down second place Loyola-Chicago in four sets (20-9, 13-3 MVC) on the Ramblers' home floor.
The match concludes a perfect 2-0 road trip and a season sweep for the Redbirds over the Ramblers.
Junior Kaylee Martin led the way for ISU with a four-set career high 25 kills on the night.
The ’Birds opened the match trailing for the first half of the set, but not falling too far behind down 9-7.
Illinois State managed to tally three straight points to take a 10-9 lead on a kill courtesy of senior Monica Miller.
The offensive onslaught continued for the Redbirds who went on a 14-7 run, extending their lead 21-16.
ISU would score the final four points, with two scores coming from kills by freshman Kendee Hilliard, cruising to an easy 25-16 opening set victory.
Set two began much similar to the first, with the Ramblers taking an early 10-8 lead.
This time Loyola began to pull away, ahead six points before a service ace from Martin and a kill by freshman Emmy Ogogor cut the Redbird deficit 21-19.
Martin’s third service ace of the match thus far brought the ’Birds to within a point, but not before the Ramblers were able to hang on for the 25-23 set-two win.
The third set saw the Redbirds take charge after they jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
Loyola-Chicago stopped the momentum and eventually tie the set at 14 points all.
Team captain Stef Jankiewicz used her signature quick dump shot over the net to push ISU ahead 17-16.
It did not take long for the Ramblers to answer with a 3-0 run to take a 21-20 lead and force the ’Birds to burn a timeout.
Once again it was the rookie Hilliard who stepped up with back-to-back kills to give ISU a one-point lead.
Another 3-0 run would give the Ramblers the lead, but the Redbirds managed to hang on and battle back to win the pivotal third set by a final score of 27-25.
Illinois State continued to ride its momentum into the fourth set, jumping out to an early 12-4 advantage.
The Redbirds kept a steady distance, extending a 16-12 lead to a nine-point advantage following a 6-0 run.
Loyola-Chicago made one last comeback effort with a 7-2 run, but another clutch kill by Hilliard would cap off a 25-20 set-four win.
It is the second time this season Illinois State has defeated the Ramblers in four sets.
Hilliard ended the night with 12 kills, while Jankiewicz dished out a match-high 51 assists.
The win for the ISU caps off the regular season road matches who finished with a record of 7-5 away from Redbird Arena.
Illinois State now sits in third place in the Missouri Valley Conference with two regular season home games remaining on the schedule.
The Ramblers will battle for first place the remaining two games with their next match coming against conference leading Northern Iowa (21-9, 15-1 MVC) on Friday at home.
ISU cannot move up any higher in the standings but control their destiny for third place from here on out, ahead of Bradley (13-14, 9-7 MVC) by one game.
After some ups and downs this season, it appears the Redbirds are getting healthy, hot and heading home at just the right time just before postseason play begins.
The ’Birds will look to make it four wins in a row Friday night in a matchup against Indiana State (7-19, 5-11 MVC).
First serve between the Redbirds and Sycamores begins at 6 p.m. in Redbird Arena.