Nov. 8, 2013
SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri State volleyball team won its fifth consecutive match Friday in convincing fashion, sweeping Illinois State by scores of 26-24, 25-21, 25-20 at Hammons Student Center.
The Bears (18-9, 9-5 Missouri Valley Conference) were big winners in Friday’s shake-up in the MVC standings, as both Illinois State (16-9, 9-4) and first-place UNI lost. Wichita State takes over the conference lead at 11-3, while MSU and Southern Illinois sit tied for fourth, just two matches back in the standings with four to play.
Friday’s first set was an offensive showcase as both teams hit above .400 and combined for 40 kills against five errors. The Bears did not commit an attack error on their first 13 swings, while it took the Redbirds 18 attempts before Kayla Walton and Amber Doolittle combined for a block for a 12-12 score. Carly Thomas and Karen Rivatto hit back-to-back kills for a 16-14 MSU lead, and the set was tied at each point from 16-24 until Olivia Brand’s seventh kill of the set made it 25-24 and Thomas and Doolittle stuffed the Redbirds to complete the two-point win.
The Bears bolted to a 9-1 lead in the second set, led 15-5 on a Simone House kill and 18-7 after Rivatto scored. Illinois State countered with a 6-0 run that included four blocks, and cut Missouri State’s lead to three points on three occasions before Doolittle’s kill secured the 25-21 victory.
Missouri State got off to another fast start in the third set, leading 13-6 on back-to-back kills from Brand and 15-8 after Walton and House teamed up for a block. The Redbirds closed to 18-15 before Rivatto’s kill and a Tatum Marshall ace made it 20-15 Bears, and Thomas hit consecutive kills for a 23-17 lead that held up for the sweep.
Brand finished with 11 kills on .333 hitting and Rivatto added 12 as six players had six or more kills for MSU. Thomas handed out 41 assists and directed the Bears to a .327 team hitting percentage against the MVC’s top statistical defense.
Thomas also led the team with 11 digs and Ashley Mason had 10. MSU held a 4-1 lead in service aces and 43-32 advantage in total digs.
The Bears host Indiana State (11-14, 4-9) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Sycamores were swept at Wichita State Friday.