Redbirds Advance to Rice Invitational Finals With 3-2 Win Over DePaul
Sept. 2, 2006
HOUSTON, Texas - It required overcoming another adverse game situation, but Illinois State's volleyball team advanced to the championship match of the Holiday Inn Select Rice Invitational with a (25-20, 32-30, 30-18, and 30-28) hard-fought, four-game win over rival DePaul here at Autry Court Saturday morning. The Redbirds will face host Rice tonight at 6 p.m. in the finals of the round-robin tournament.
DePaul claimed game one, and had the Redbirds on the ropes with three match points in game two. But for the second consecutive match, Illinois State rose to the occasion when they needed to in the worst way. Trailing 29-26 in the frame, the Redbirds rallied for four straight points, and six out of seven, to propel a pivotal comeback win and coast to the 3-1 victory over the winless Blue Demons.
The `Birds were faced with a similar situation against Texas San-Antonio Friday night, fighting off six match points in a five-game win.
Junior middle blocker Kari Staehlin was the offensive catalyst for the Redbirds, collecting 19 kills on 32 swings for a match-best .344 hitting percentage. Freshman Katie Seyller was a standout for the second consecutive match, contributing 13 kills in just three games played. Senior outside hitter Lindley McDavid, playing in her hometown, was in double-figures for the second consecutive match with 12 kills. Freshman Kasey Mollerus was ISU's defensive stopper, recording a career-high 32 digs.
DePaul had three players in double figures, led by Morgan Ingersoll's 19 kills.
With the win, Illinois State evens it season record at 3-3.
"I thought we showed a tremendous amount of poise again today," said head coach Sharon Dingman. "After you complete a big comeback once in a season, then I think it becomes easier each time you are faced with the same circumstances. That's what happened today."
The Blue Demons claimed the win in game one, their first game win of the season. Both teams traded points in the early stages of the frame before DePaul claimed a three-point lead, 15-12, following a kill by Ellen Hayes. But the Redbirds clawed back into the frame, going on a 4-0 run to go up 16-15. The `Birds claimed as high as a three-point lead in the game's ensuing stages, but DePaul reclaimed the advantage at 21-20 on an ace by freshman setter Emily McGinnis. Illinois State couldn't get any closer than two points the rest of the stanza. After forcing game point at 29-25, Hayes clinched the win with a service ace. Staehlin had a game-high six kills, while Hayes countered with seven terminations for the Blue Demons. Despite DePaul's size advantage, the Redbirds recorded 5.5 team blocks in the stanza.
The `Birds fell behind early in game two, and had to fight off three consecutive game points to prevent going down 0-2 before tying the match at 1-1 in extra points (32-30). The two squads traded points for the stanza's first 22 possessions before DePaul began making their run. Following an ISU service error, the Blue Demons rolled off four consecutive points to claim the 15-11 advantage. The Redbirds fell behind by as many as eight points in the ensuing stretch and DePaul appeared to be in complete control. But Illinois State charged back, and after a 4-0 spurt, were within two at 27-25. The Blue Demons forced game point at 29-26; but much like game three against UTSA yesterday, that was when the `Birds were on their best offensive attack. After two DePaul errors and an assisted block by Staehlin and Lindsey, the game was tied at 29-29. Staehlin closed the door, tallying back-to-back kills to clinch the come-from-behind victory.
Seyller took over offensively in game three, leading Illinois State to the 30-18 win, their largest of the season. Garnering the start, Seyller broke her previous career-high in just one stanza with 10 kills. She scored four of ISU's first seven points of the game, connecting on three kills and a service ace to give the `Birds a 5-3 lead that they would not relinquish. Between her swings, serves and assisted blocks, Seyller had a hand in 14 of ISU's 30 points in the game. The Redbirds trailed just once in the stanza, building leads of 10 points three different times, and coasting to the 30-18 victory on back-to-back kills by Seyller and Staehlin.
"Today was a complete team victory, but you also have to rave about Katie Seyller again," Dingman said. "She's so athletic. We're hoping she can give us that type of energy off the bench all year. What you are seeing is an extreme amount of confidence out of a talented freshman player."
In game four, McDavid and Manoela Vieira DaCunha combined for eight kills as the `Birds hit .216 in a close, 30-28, match-clinching triumph. After a Seyller kill, Illinois State jumped out to a 5-1 lead, capitalizing on a 4-0 spurt. The Redbirds extended their to six, 9-3, but DePaul hung tough, and got back within 15-13 after a 4-0 run of their own. Behind the serving of Mollerus, Illinois State pushed the advantage back to 25-19. McDavid had two kills in the stretch. The `Birds didn't let the Blue Demons get any closer than two points until 29-28 after forcing game point leading 29-26. DaCunha tallied the match-winning kill to give the `Birds the 30-28 win.
Despite being outsized, the Redbirds collected 14.5 team blocks in the match, and had more kills (71-59) and sets (64-57) while out hitting the Blue Demons, .225 to .148.