Volleyball Bears hold off Illinois State

The Missouri State volleyball team withstood an 8-0 Illinois State run in the fifth set to win 3-2 (25-22, 25-20, 20-25, 21-25, 16-14) and overtake the Redbirds for fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference standings Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill.

Just like the season’s first meeting in Springfield, the road team captured the first two sets and the home team battled back to force a fifth and deciding period, only to lose by a final score that went beyond the necessary 15 points. That match went 17-15 in favor of ISU.

The Bears (14-12, 8-6 MVC) overcame 17 Illinois State (31-10, 7-6) blocks that contributed to 36 attack errors, using a solid defensive effort that resulted in a season-high 100 digs and some serious mental toughness in the fifth set to grab the road victory.

The fifth set began with Olivia Brand landing two of her match-high 17 kills as part of a 4-0 run that put the Bears ahead 6-3. The home team answered with an 8-0 run for an 11-6 lead before Andrea Beaty took over for Missouri State, accounting for all the team’s points to a 12-10 deficit with three kills and a block. The teams traded points to 13-11 when Maddy Hogan scored an ace and the Redbirds committed consecutive attack errors to hand MSU a match point at 14-13. ISU fended that point off with a kill, but Amber Doolittle and Kinsey McCarter’s block gave the Bears another chance and Carly Thomas cashed in with an ace for the win.

Missouri State tallied relatively comfortable wins in the first two sets, hitting .244 as a team and holding leads as large as 24-18 in the first and 20-12 in the second.

The Redbirds combined for seven blocks in the third and fourth periods and Missouri State gave ISU 20 points on attack errors in those two frames. Illinois State pulled away from a 13-10 lead in the third, and closed the fourth set on a 7-1 run after trailing 20-18.

Beaty finished with 15 kills (on .289 hitting) and seven blocks, and Doolittle and Christine McCartney added 10 kills each for the Bears, who edged the Redbirds 64-63 in that category while hitting .131 to ISU’s .169.

Ashley Mason’s career-high 29 digs paced the defense, Thomas added 19 to go with 48 assists, Shelby Strang had 17 and McCarter finished with a career-high 16.

ISU’s LeighAnn Hranka posted a double-double with 14 kills and 12 blocks.

Missouri State heads to Indiana State (3-20, 1-12) for a 6 p.m. match on Saturday. The Sycamores lost 3-2 against Wichita State Friday.

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