Nov. 28, 2013
WICHITA, Kan. -- Missouri State’s appearance in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Championship came to a disappointing end in the first round Thursday night as fifth-seeded Illinois State (19-12) handed the No. 4 Bears (21-11) a 3-1 (27-29, 20-25, 25-20, 21-25) loss in Wichita.
Missouri State held a 61-55 advantage in total kills and 75-63 lead in digs, but a season-high 37 attack errors - compared to 19 for ISU - made the difference as the Bears hit a season-low .136 against the MVC’s top statistical defense.
The Bears held a 18-12 lead in the first set before the Redbirds came back to win 29-27. Kayla Walton’s kill gave the Bears their first of three set points at 24-22, but the Redbirds fought back to tie at 24-24 and again at 25-all after Karen Rivatto put MSU ahead 25-24. Missouri State committed three of its 10 attack errors in the set from that point as ISU closed out the win.
Missouri State was once again plagued by attack errors in the second set, handing the Redbirds 12 points total on missed attacks. After the slow start, the Bears were able to tie the score at 8-8, but the Redbirds answered with a 5-1 run and led 19-14 on an MSU attack error. Walton’s kill capped a 4-0 run with Missouri State trailing 20-19, but the Redbirds countered with a block and two kills to spark a closing 5-1 run.
The MSU offense returned to form early in the third set, turning eight of its first 13 attacks into kills for a 10-6 lead. The teams traded 5-0 runs to 15-11, and Kayln Vlasin kills gave MSU leads of 19-15, 21-17 and 22-19 after the Redbirds had closed to within two points on three occasions. Amber Doolittle and Carly Thomas stuffed an ISU attack for set point at 24-19, and Rivatto’s fifth kill of the set closed out the win.
Rivatto scored three quick kills in the fourth set for a 7-4 MSU lead before Illinois State’s 6-0 run swung the score to 10-7 in favor of the Redbirds. ISU extended the lead to four points before a block by Rivatto and Vlasin pulled the Bears to 16-15, and a Rivatto kill made it 17-16 when the Redbirds pulled back ahead 19-16. Ten sideouts followed before MSU sent an attack wide to end the match.
Walton finished with 14 kills on .400 hitting and improved her season hitting percentage to .336, good for ninth in school history. Rivatto had 15 kills, while Thomas added six along with 47 assists and 10 digs. Ashley Mason led the Bears with 14 digs.
The loss likely ends Missouri State’s season as the Bears were rated 69th in the NCAA RPI entering the match. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs Dec. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.