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Volleyball bounces back against Bearcats

Written by on January 30, 2021

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

NORMAL Ill.- A competitive mindset potentially lacking Friday was in full-effect on Saturday as the Illinois State Redbirds swept past the Cincinnati Bearcats 3-0. Leading the way for ISU was freshman Kaitlyn Prondzinski, who posted a career-high 12 kills. Kaylee Martin had 11 and Sarah Kushner added 10 kills to Prondzinski output. 

Head coach Leah Johnson spoke of the competitive mentality that lacked the Redbirds on Friday, calling for the players to be the ones to bring the energy for gameday. 

“We need to respond earlier to that competition. My job is to right the ship, but it is their job is to execute. No matter what I say, ultimately, they are the ones that do it,” said Johnson.  

Johnson went on to acknowledge the loss yesterday and praised how her players went out and conquered the Bearcats today. An improvement was seen on the Redbirds right-side, featuring Prondzinski and Nicole Lund.  

“I had more confidence in myself and I didn’t think as much. I just went out and played,” said Prondzinski. 

When discussing how she thought her Prondzinski has played through her first five matches, Johnson was brutally honest saying she didn’t think her freshman outside hitter was ready for a starter role. 

Prondzinski came off the bench in ISU’s first match against Marquette last Friday but has since started every contest. Plaguing Prondzinski tends to be getting in her own head at times, but when she just plays the game, she is the best version of herself. 

“Thinking is your enemy on game day, it’s your best friend in practice,” said Johnson. 

Illinois State took a large lead in the first set, riding behind Kushner having five kills. The Redbirds took set 1 25-18 but set 2 brought more challenges. Trailing for a stretch of set 2 proved that the Redbirds were saving their energy until the end, where they went on a 9-to-4 run to go up 2-0 in the match. 

Another tightly contested beginning to the third set was swiftly taken by the Redbirds as the trio of Martin, Prondzinski and Lund proved to be too tasking for the Bearcats to claw back. Sending Cincinnati home packing after a 25-19 set 3 victory, the Redbirds and Bearcats waved goodbye, acknowledging a good weekend of volleyball. 

Not expected to practice Sunday, as ISU travels to Peoria to take on their I-74 rival Bradley for the second time in seven days. In their last meeting, the Redbirds secured the sweep over the Braves.