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Volleyball falls to Cincinnati in four sets

Written by on January 29, 2021

Story by Jake Fogal

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

A first set win turned disaster for the Illinois State Redbirds, who dropped its next three sets to the Cincinnati Bearcats, falling apart in the process. Head coach Leah Johnson when talking about the fourth set, attributed the loss more to what Cincinnati did right compared to what the Redbirds did wrong. 

“I can’t really explain set four.” Johnson said.  

“They [Cincinnati] had a rhythm. It wasn’t that we were passing poorly or playing poorly, they just had a rhythm. They were winning the long rally.” 

The momentum began late in the third set, where ISU had a 24-19 lead evaporated following a 7-1 run by Cincy. Having up to 50 in attendance was not enough for the Redbirds to finalize the 2-1 lead, instead having the result flipped on them.  

The Redbirds took the first set 25-21 and played a back-and-forth second set that saw 13 ties between the two foes. Cincinnati managed to finish strong25-22, in the second to tie the match 1-1. 

Kaylee Martin led the Redbirds with 15 kills, and tallied a double-double, adding 16 digs. Sarah Kushner followed Martin with 13 kills and 12 digs. The poor finish was something still bugging Kushner during the post-match conference. 

“They made great adjustments on us. We’ll try and do the same thing. I think we’re all ready for tomorrow. I know I’m ready to play,” said Kushner. 

Stef Jankiewicz was the third Redbird to total a double-double, as she had 34 assists and 11 digs. 

The Bearcats had some big-hitters on each side, as Maria Tobergte and Madison Waters each attacked for 19 kills. Coach Johnson had some high praise for Waters. 

“I thought she was the difference. She took advantage of kind of a sloppy blocking night for us. She was very good, and she was very composed the whole game. She was their anchor,” said Johnson. 

The Redbirds will look for revenge when they return to Redbird Arena tomorrow at 1 p.m. to take on Cincinnati.