Redbirds Swept By Illini in Second Match of the Redbird Classic
Written by Eric Schweizer on September 17, 2021
Image is courtesy of goredbirds.com
NORMAL, Ill. – The Illinois State Volleyball team took on their rival, the University of Illinois tonight in the second match of the Redbird Classic.
Before the match ISU honored Dr. Linda Herman, former ISU volleyball coach and administrator. Herman was a part of ISU for over 30 years and helped influence women’s athletics to where it is now. ISU raised a banner with her name on it in Redbird Arena honoring her accomplishments.
“The fact that we were able to honor Dr. Linda Herman with so many people in the community felt so special.” Said ISU outside hitter Sarah Kushner. “That’s something I think is easy to play for and why I play here, that’s why I put on the jersey and that’s why I wanna play every single day.
The Redbirds got off to a hot start, embracing a packed Redbird arena, and jumping out to 4-1 lead. The Illini would answer however, getting hot and going on multiple 4-0 scoring runs throughout the first set. The Redbirds could not find an answer for the aggressive Illini and would fall in set one, 25-16.
“It was a lot of their serving game; I think they served the ball really well.” Said head coach Leah Johnson. “That is their equalizer with any opponent they see.”
In set two the Redbirds went on a 5-0 run early to give themselves a 6-3 advantage. This lead would keep up till the midway point before a 6-0 run by the Illini put them up 16-12. The Illini took set two 25-16 and went up 2-0 on the match.
The Illini got off to the hot start in set three and did not look back, shutting the Redbirds down. The Illini completed the sweep, winning in set three 25-16. Another tough loss for the Redbirds during a stretch of tough non-conference opponents and their second loss of the day.
“We ran three lineups tonight and every score was the same. I can’t be disappointed in that.” Johnson said. “For a team who’s been going through it and is young and being put in that situation against a quality Illinois team, I don’t know if I have anything to be made about.”
The Redbirds were led by Aliyah Moore with 7 kills followed closely behind by Kushner and Nicole Lund with 5.
“I love how we competed, I love how they took the adjustments, stepped into different roles. I think that was awesome.” Johnson said.
The Redbirds record now sits at 3-8 and they look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon when they face off against Missouri in the Redbird Classic finale.
“We’re gonna have to assess our lineup at this point. See if what we finished with is what makes sense for tomorrow.” Johnson said. “I look forward to that matchup because I think that’s an opportunity for us.”