Indiana State volleyball used a consistent match to bounce-back from a Sunday loss and defeat Illinois State for the first time since 2013 on Monday evening.
Their 3-1 victory improves the Sycamores to 2-3 (2-2) on the season while the Redbirds fall to 4-4 (2-2). In addition to picking up their first win over Illinois State since 2013, the victory marked just the ninth time that Indiana State has defeated the Redbirds in series history.
Junior libero Melina Tedrow was once again the glue to the defensive effort, recording 23 digs to lead the Trees and earn her 900th career dig. Freshman Ashley Eck added 11 digs while Mary Hannah Lewis earned a double-double with 21 assists and 11 digs.
The Trees were also dominant at the net, getting a solo block and three block assists from Gretchen Kuckkan, a solo block and two block assists from Mallory Keller, five block assists from Madeline Williams, four block assists each from Karinna Gall and Kylie Newby and two block assists from Kaitlyn Hamilton. ISU ended with 12 total team blocks while Illinois State finished with 11. Illinois State was held to just .117 hitting.
Offensively the Blue & White had a strong outing, tallying 51 kills while hitting .218, once again led by Gretchen Kuckkan with a career-high 17 kills to go along with nine digs. Keller contributed 10 additional kills and Williams ended with nine.
In addition to Lewis’ double-double, Indiana State got 20 assists from Chloe Mason and six from Tedrow for 49 total assists to just three errors.
After back-to-back losses in the fifth set, the Sycamores found themselves in a familiar situation with a 2-1 match advantage, playing with the lead after dropping the third set. Unlike the previous two matches, the Trees began the fourth set with the pedal down. Kills from four different Sycamores and a service ace from Mason gave the Trees a 7-2 lead early, forcing an Illinois State timeout.
There was no let-up from ISU, however, stretching their lead to 15-5 following a kill from Keller. Illinois State would manage to pull back to within six at 18-12, but Gall put down a kill on the next play to ensure that would be as close as the Redbirds would get.
The Sycamores will hit the road next weekend for a Feb. 15-16 series with the Bradley Braves. Both games will be aired on the Valley on ESPN.