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ISU to play Bradley on Senior Day

Written by on November 19, 2021

Photo Courtesy goredbirds.com

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State is preparing to take on the Bradley Braves for the final regular season match of the year. Following the game, the Redbirds will honor their three seniors Carley Nicholson, Leigha Malecha and Paige Hilliard as well as student manager Karl Rosch for all of their hard work and dedication to Redbird volleyball over the years. 

Last time against Bradley the Redbirds got the win in a 5 set thriller. The first set was a close one, ending 25-23 with ISU taking the lead. In the second and third sets, however, the Birds were afflicted with errors.

A total of 23 errors were combined over the 2 sets to give the Braves a 2-1 advantage going into the fourth. Bradley began suffering errors at the line in the fourth which gave ISU enough momentum to close out the set, with that momentum carrying into the fifth.

In the final set, the Redbirds hit an impressive .600% and were able to dominate the set 15-7, resulting in a Redbird win for the night.

“We’ve been doing more reps. We’ve done a lot of out of system reps and really just working on what we see in the opposition, what they’re blocking and how we can hit around it or use the block, anything that can cut out our errors.” said Sophomore Tamara Otene on how the team as worked to reduce errors.

The Redbirds have been on a roll recently, with many different accolades being awarded to the team. Otene was recently named Missouri Valley Conference player of the week for the second consecutive week as well as the third time this season.

Otene has been hitting exceptionally well, with 448 total kills this season ranking her at third for all time total kills by a Redbird sophomore, as well as the most kills in the MVC averaging 4.55 kills per set.

ISU juniors, Sarah Kushner and Kaity Weimerskirch, have recently been named College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Women’s Volleyball Team for the first time. This is a special honor for the country’s best student athletes who’ve proved themselves proficient both on the court as well as in the classroom.

Kushner, aside from her academic success at ISU, has also been crushing it this season. Currently at 18 double-doubles, 11 during league play, the junior from Naperville is showing no signs of slowing down. In 21 matches with double digit kills, Kushner also contributed defensively with at least 10 digs in 19 games this year. 

“I think a motivator has been that we all have the same goal and we’re all just playing for each other – the effort, the work, the training, whatever it is that we have to do for ourselves and each other to play at the level that we play at – we’re going to do it” said Otene on the teams motivation to play with such high efficiency this season.

After this weekend, the Birds will prepare for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament beginning on the 25th. Before that, ISU looks to close out another win over the Braves.

The final regular season match begins Friday at 6 at Redbird Arena.