Brooklyn Hlafka led ISU with 16 kills. (WJBC File Photo)
By WJBC Staff
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois State (18-12, 11-7 MVC) volleyball team was defeated by Creighton (27-3, 17-1 MVC) in the semi-final match of the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Friday night. The Redbirds were led by Brooklyn Hlafka with 16 kills and a .312 hitting percentage and Ashley Rosch with 10 kills. Stacey Niao recorded a team-high 18 digs and Kaitlyn Early posted 40 assists and 14 digs.
Creighton jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage with two-consecutive kills from Melanie Jereb and an ISU error. The Bluejays were able to extend their lead with two additional Redbird errors, forcing Illinois State to call its first timeout, 13-8. Illinois State continued to battle and was able to get within two points with kills from Emily Schneider and Hlafka, 17-15. Kelli Browning came on strong at the end of the set, though, notching two kills in the last five points for a 25-21 CU victory.
The Redbirds took control early in the second set with a kill from Hlafka and two blocks from LeighAnn Hranka, 4-1. Illinois State extended the gap by six points with four kills and two CU attack errors, and three kills coming from Hlafka, making it 12-6. Creighton compiled a four-point run with two kills and a service ace from Megan Bober, but ISU answered right back with a three-point string, causing the Bluejays to call a timeout, 19-13. Illinois State maintained the lead and ended the set with a kill from Niao, 25-20.
Both teams exchanged points out of the break, until Creighton was able to earn four points with a kill from McNary, an ace from Bober and two-straight ISU errors, 7-3. Bober posted two-consecutive kills for CU at the half way point to put the Bluejays ahead, 13-5. Illinois State tallied a late five-point run, but was unable to regain the lead falling 25-19.
Illinois State posted three-straight points with kills from Rosch and Schneider and an ace from Early for a 5-4 lead in the fourth set. It was a battle for points throughout most of the set, until Creighton was able to compile three-consecutive points for a 20-17 lead. The Redbirds continued to fight, but late kills from McNary and Heather Thorson ended the match in a 25-21 win.
Creighton will face the winner of the Wichita State and Northern Iowa match in the tournament final, Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:07 p.m.