NORMAL – Illinois State's volleyball team (13-10, 7-6 MVC) dropped a five-set thriller to Missouri State (14-12, 8-6 MVC) Friday night at Redbird Arena (22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 14-16).
The Redbirds were led by LeighAnn Hranka (14), Brooklyn Hlafka (16), Stacey Niao (15) and Ashley Rosch (12), with double-digit kills. Jenny Menendez and Rosch led the defensive effort, digging-out 27 and 20 attacks, respectively. Kaitlyn Early posted 54 assists in the defeat.
In the first set, the two teams exchanged points until Missouri State jumped ahead to a six-point lead, 15-9. Illinois State regrouped and got within three points, 18-15. Missouri State responded, eventually stretching the lead to 24-18. Illinois State rallied for four straight points and closed the gap, cutting the Bears’ lead to 24-22 before falling, 25-22. The Redbirds had seven blocks in the set.
In the second set, Illinois State trailed as Missouri State jumped out to an early 6-1 advantage. The two teams continued to exchange points, while MSU maintained the lead, increasing the gap to 19-11. The Redbirds responded scoring seven straight points, reducing their deficit to 20-19. The Bears fought back, scoring three-straight points in a run of their own, going up 23-19. The Redbirds were held to only one more point and fell, 25-20.
In the third set, the Redbirds grabbed their first lead of the match, 8-7, but the two teams traded points before ISU went on a 6-2 run to take a 16-12 lead. The Bears pulled within two points, but Illinois State stretched the lead to six, 23-17. MSU went on a 3-to-1 point run, reducing the score to 24-20, but the Redbirds were able to score, winning the set 25-20. Stacey Niao led the Redbirds in kills converting 5-of-11 attempts with only one error.
Illinois State led early in the fourth set, capturing a four-point lead, 6-2. Missouri State battled back tying the game first at 9-9, and again 14-14, before reclaiming the lead, 15-14. ISU was strong at the net and battled back to take an 18-17 lead. The Redbirds gained momentum, forcing a MSU timeout. After the timeout, ISU scored three-straight points to win the set 25-21, forcing a fifth set.
ISU had back-to-back blocks to tie the fifth set, 6-6, forcing a MSU timeout. After the break, the Redbirds scored three-unanswered points, forcing another MSU timeout. Illinois State continued to play strong at the net, taking a five-point lead, 11-6. Missouri State answered with three-straight points of their own, pulling within two points, 11-9. With a one-point advantage, 13-12, ISU took a timeout, but MSU tallied two points to take the lead, 14-13. Illinois State answered to tie the game, 14-14, but late Redbird errors gave the Bears the win, 16-14.
Illinois State will be back in action tonight as it hosts Wichita State at 7:05.