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Redbirds Sweep Indiana State; Advance to MVC Championship

Written by on November 26, 2021

NORMAL, IL. – For the third time in three years Redbird volleyball will compete in the championship round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Illinois State defeated the Indiana State Sycamores in three sets at redbird arena. ISU will face the Loyola Chicago Ramblers tomorrow at 4 p.m. for a chance at a three-peat. 

The story of the game was defense from the get-go for the Redbirds. Starting middle blocker Nicole Lund matched her career high in blocks with 10, and the Illinois State defense stifled the Sycamores to a .051 hitting percentage. Head Coach Leah Johnson attributes the effort to a great week of preparation.

“We passed, and passed, and passed this week,” said Johnson. We probably passed more balls this week combined than we have in three weeks because we just knew that was going to be our bread and butter.”

The Illinois State offense had an efficient and balanced attack that netted a .298 hitting percentage. MVC Player of the year Tamara Otene led the way with 14 kills, while Outside hitter Kaitlyn Prondzinski converted 15 of her attempts into 8 kills. All while only committing 11 attack errors.

With the biggest game of the season on tap tomorrow the Ramblers and the Redbirds split a pair of matches during conference play. Loyola Chicago has dominated this season which paved way to earning the #1 seed in the MVC, while Illinois State finished a game behind them at 13-5. Coach Johnson expanded on what this matchup means to be competing for a championship. 

“I like that this is opportunity number three and that it has to be a head to head opportunity. It’s in our hands,” Johnson said. “We’re playing well, we’re playing confident. I think they are too. It’s going to be a really elite Missouri Valley championship match. And that’s what it should be.”

Photo courtesy of goredbirds.com