After coming off of a much needed six-day break after being swept by their I-74 rival Bradley last Monday Feb. 1, Illinois State bounced by Sunday afternoon Feb. 7 against Indiana State getting a key veteran piece in senior Kaylee Martin. This was the first time this season Illinois State was down early in sets and was able to come back in the fifth to win.
Illinois State came out with a strong performance in set number one of their two-day series against the Sycamores. Martin was back in the lineup after missing last Monday's game against Bradley and she picked up right where she left off with 5 kills to start the day. Freshman Nora Janka was a key piece in the 25-18 set one victory with 11 assists.
As set two began, the Redbirds and Sycamores went back –and forth until midway through the set. Indiana State led by six as Illinois State was determined to make a comeback, but eventually fell short of their task, losing set two 25-20. Despite the frustration of not producing points midway through, coach Johnson and company had a lot to be positive about moving forward to set three.
Set three meant another early on back-and-forth battle for Illinois State, but they could not overcome Indiana State as they found themselves in another point-producing slump losing 25-18. Martin and Kaitlyn Prondzinski had 3 kills each, but Indiana State looked dominant and showed they were going to run away with the set victory.
Falling behind in the sets early, Illinois State was due for a comeback and proved they could in set four. Sarah Kushner led the way with six kills, Prondzinski with five, Nicole Lund and Martin with three each. Janka continued her dominance as this proved to be the difference maker as Illinois State seemed to surge to their 25-18 set victory.
With a winner-take-all set five on the horizon, the Redbirds called on a senior leader who they missed last Monday to take over the game and she did just that. Martin had 4 key kills in the last set to be the deciding factor in Sunday afternoon’s match-winning 15-9.
Illinois State will finish up their two-game series with Indiana State at 3 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 10 as they look to leave with a two-game sweep.