NORMAL, Ill. – In front of an electric crowd of 3,850 fans, the Illinois State volleyball team (6-1) opened the Redbird Classic, presented by The Edge Apartments, with a thrilling 3-1 win over in-state rival and nationally-ranked Illinois (2-3) on Friday night.
The last time Illinois State stunned an opponent ranked this high was in 1996, when the Redbirds upset then-No. 8 Notre Dame in five sets. Additionally, tonight's win marks Illinois State's first win over Illinois since Aug. 31, 2006, to level the series at 30 games apiece.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Set 1 - Illinois State opened on a 9-2 run, behind a pair of kills from newcomer Sarah Kushner and the Redbirds' first service ace of the night, forcing the Illini to use a timeout. The second ace of the match, this time by Allie Otten, helped ISU charge ahead 12-3. Illinois' fifth attacking error of the night made it 18-10, before the Illini responded with a 3-0 scoring run to cut into ISU's lead. Another ace delivered by Otten surged the Redbirds ahead 21-14, before a block by Monica Miller and Emmy Ogogor, and a kill from Kaylee Martin, helped ISU secure the opening set, 25-16.
Set 2 - The scoring run continued for the Redbirds in the second set with a pair off errors by the Illini. In a set that featured 12 ties, a serving error by Illinois gave ISU the 15-14 edge going into the media timeout. The Illini took their largest lead – three points – to hold a 20-17 advantage, before continuing their scoring run to sit at a five-point lead. Kendee Hilliard checked into the match with Illinois sitting at set point, registering her first kill of the game to bring the Redbirds within four. The Illini held on for the 25-21 win, despite four Redbirds sitting at five kills for the match.
Set 3 - A balanced offensive effort in the front row with kills from Miller, Stef Jankiewicz, Martin, Kushner, Sydney Holt and Ogogor helped the Redbirds charge to an early 12-4 lead over Illinois, forcing the Illini to call a timeout. Illinois entered a 4-0 scoring run to cut into ISU's lead, before Holt and Miller teamed up on the block to keep the Redbirds out in front, 21-19. A kill by Hilliard helped the Redbirds reach set-point, before Illinois' All-American Jaqueline Quade committed her eighth attacking error of the night to give ISU the set, 25-21.
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Set 4 - ISU opened the fourth set on a 6-2 run behind four kills from Hilliard, as the rookie was up to six for the match. Back-to-back attacking errors by ISU leveled the set at seven-all, forcing the Redbirds to use their first timeout. A service ace delivered by Martin helped ISU regain the lead, sitting at a 10-9 advantage. A block by Holt and Miller had ISU out to a 16-10 lead, before Hilliard's seventh kill of the night pushed the Redbirds out ahead by seven. An overturned call on a challenge issued by head coach Leah Johnson helped crush Illinois' momentum, as the Redbirds went on to win the fourth set, 25-21, on a kill by Miller.
LEADING THE FLOCK
- Kills >> Kaylee Martin (12)
- Assists >> Stef Jankiewicz (42)
- Digs >> Kendal Meier (20)
- Blocks >> Monica Miller (3), Sydney Holt (3)
- Aces >> Allie Otten (2)
Illinois State will continue the Redbird Classic tomorrow when it takes on UCF (RV) at 5:30 p.m.