Volleyball rebounds to beat ISU

By Anthony Zilis

The No. 22 Illini overcame sloppy play and a one-set deficit as they invaded Redbird Arena to beat Illinois State in four sets Tuesday.

A theme for the Illini this season has been overcoming inconsistency, and the story was the same last night for an Illinois team who was on the short end of numerous multiple point runs.

But Illinois State seemed to keep making timely plays in order to come out on top.

“You talk about Illinois doing the right things at the right times, and the Redbirds doing the wrong things at the wrong times,” ISU senior MC Richmond said.

Illinois Coach Don Hardin blamed the errors on the tension that comes from the close proximity of the two campuses.

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“As with all rivalries, both made mistakes,” Hardin said. “The nerves … of this rivalry really got to both teams.”

The Illini are coming off a road trip where they lost just their second game of the season, but didn’t look like a top 25 team with 27 errors and hit only .169 against a team that was trounced in straight sets by Big Ten rival Penn State.

The brightest spot in the Illini win was freshman hitter Michelle Bartsch, who had 11 kills and hit .308 from the right side.

Illinois State Coach Melissa Myers thought her team missed out on a prime opportunity to beat a ranked team.

“We had some opportunities in each set to take it to five (sets),” she said. “Illinois did a really good job of dictating the game.”

It wasn’t all bad for the victorious Illini, as Laura DeBruler once again led the team with 23 kills and had 15 digs but also had nine errors. Ashley Edinger had a game-high 24 digs. Kylie McCulley totaled her season high 47 total attacks, but it didn’t pay off for the Illini as she hit only .149 with her 13 kills.

Illinois now heads back to Champaign-Urbana to prepare for a Friday matchup against SIU-Edwardsville at Huff Hall.