Seton Hall Wins Five Set Nail-Biter Against Illinois StateDate: September 10, 2017
By: Bob Towey
The Seton Hall volleyball team (6-3) defeated the Illinois State Redbirds (4-5), 3-2 (17-25, 25-21, 17-25, 26-24, 17-15), at the Redbird Classic in Normal, Ill on Saturday.
Illinois State started out strong in the first set, scoring seven of the first eight points. At one point, the Pirates reduced the Redbird lead to three points, but could not get any closer, allowing Illinois State to take the set, 25-17.
Seton Hall pulled the match even in the second set, rebounding from an early 9-6 deficit. The Redbirds did not go down without a fight, at one point knotting the score up, 21-21, late in the set. Undeterred, the Pirates tallied four consecutive points, with the final block from Sharay Barnes and Haylee Gasser marking the set-winning point to tie the match with one set apiece.
Illinois State dominated the third set, never trailing Seton Hall after the Pirates scored the set's first point. Again, the Redbirds kept Seton Hall at arm's length, taking a set lead of 2-1.
The fourth set tipped the scale back towards Seton Hall. The Redbirds gave up an early lead when Seton Hall went on a 7-2 run halfway through the set. With the Hall up, 22-19, Illinois State went on a scoring run to pull the set even, 22-22. Later, the score sat locked at 24-24 when the Redbirds committed an attack error. The Pirates made short work capitalizing on that mistake, and a kill from Abby Thelen gave Seton Hall the set, 26-24.
The final set of Saturday's competition saw the tide finally turn for the Pirates. After balanced, aggressive play from both sides resulted in a 12-12 tie towards the set's end, Thelen and Barnes came alive, recording a kill each for a Hall match point. The next kill from Caitlin Koska finally put the Pirates over the edge, giving the Hall a 17-15 set victory and the match.
Thelen's standout 22-kill performance combined with 14 kills from Barnes and nine from Koska kept Seton Hall alive and preserved the team's ability to come back and win.
The Pirates' momentum from their win over the Redbirds was not enough to carry them through their match against Dayton (6-4), though, and they fell to the Flyers in straight sets during a 5 p.m. match on Saturday.
Bob Towey can be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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