MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (HOI) -- Illinois State (1-1) volleyball picked up their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, upsetting #20 Marquette (1-1) in five sets on their home court. It's the Redbirds fourth top-25 win in four years and their first win against Marquette since 2014.
"We knew we had to make adjustments and engage more point scorers, including our middles and right sides, and they came through on that plan. We didn’t need them to carry the burden, but we needed them to score in the right situation and they did. Both Kaylee (Martin) and Sarah (Kushner) are playing six rotations for us, defending the whole backcourt, making stops at the net and are involved in every play. We’re really proud of the competitive fire they’ve been bringing to this team," said Illinois State Head Coach Leah Johnson.
Senior outside hitter Kaylee Martin led the team with 22 kills, while senior setter Stef Jankiewicz totaled up 47 assists, and a career-high 7 blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Kushner set a new career-high with 29 digs, while also getting 2 aces.
It was also the second straight year Illinois State has gone down to the wire with Marquette, needing a deciding fifth set in the loss to the Golden Eagles a season ago.
"Right around the 10th point when we lost the lead and then tied it up again, there were flashbacks to last season when Marquette came to our place, even though this team looks a lot different than last year’s. Personally, I had to breathe through it, just like we tell the players to breathe through it. The team trusted their training and executed," continued Johnson.
Next up for the Redbirds is Missouri Valley Conference play, hosting I-74 rival Bradley on Monday at 6 p.m. at Redbird Arena.
"Right now, no matter who we see in conference, we feel like we have a point to prove, and everyone wants to prove that same point against us. Our conference is always highly competitive, and we don’t expect anything less than that this year. We respect Bradley, and honestly, we’re just excited to have our first home match," explained Johnson.