Illinois State University took on Missouri State University on Pack the Arena Night at Redbird Arena, as students fulfilled their duties to show up loud and proud for their Redbirds. The ’Birds looked to put an end to their four-game losing streak beating the Bears 3-0.
The Redbirds could not be happier to be home after dropping all three of their games last weekend in Ohio, getting off to a hot start with 4-2 lead with back to back service aces by Carley Nicholson.
Martin may have dented the court early in the first set, having five kills within the first 10 points.
“Between the backcourt being amazing, passing great, and Syd (Sydney Holt), playing the block every time. Then Stef (Stef Jankiewicz) setting it up and reading the court really well makes it really easy and fun to have those holes,” Martin said.
The Bears did not seem to be on the same page in the first set, having two errors occur consecutively before a timeout was called. As the Bears’ struggles continued, Holt and Jankiewicz joined the fun, adding to the total kills for the Redbirds.
Each time the Bears looked to decrease the deficit, the ’Birds went point for point until the end of the first set. Two attack errors by Chloe Rear of the Bears sealed the deal, giving the ’Birds a 25-14 first set win.
The second set started in the favor of the Bears, as many miscues were committed by the ’Birds, resulting in a timeout. Seemingly a new team, the ’Birds were able to get back six points off errors by the Bears, tying the set at 10 points apiece.
The Redbirds were able to find themselves, going for a 13-4 run, having Sarah Kushner leading the run with two kills. Before the Bears could make any sort of comeback, fellow ’Birds Jankiewicz and Holt finished them off, winning the second set 25-14.
Head coach Leah Johnson talked about the focus of the team throughout the match.
“We try to be simplistic and routine, we are not going to coach effort, we are not going to coach emotion, we are motivated, period.”
The hustle by the ’Birds was put on display through the first two sets, and the start of the third set was no different. Martin put the ’Birds out to a hot start, once again having five kills putting the ’Birds up 10-2 in the third set.
The Bears began to build momentum, depending on Laynie Dake to bring her team back into the fray down four, 11-7. Before the Bears could reach the ’Birds, Holt put the hammer down with three kills, stretching the lead to 16-8.
The crowd was coming alive in Redbird Arena, as so many could taste a sweep in the making-over the Bears. Martin could taste that victory as well, as she converted on four kills to set the Redbirds up for a 25-14 victory, and a sweep for the overall match.
Referring to the beginning of conference play, Johnson made the mindset clear for her team.
“It's business now, and we're talking about choices, and we are making choices to be great.”