Sarah Kushner of Illinois prepares to return a shot as teammate Kendal Meier watches against Cincinnati at the Redbird Arena on Friday. The Bearcats took a 21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-16 victory.
NORMAL – Cincinnati bounced back from a four-point deficit towards the end of the third set and beat Illinois State (21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-16) on Friday at the Redbird Arena.
ISU (2: 2), who was ahead 23:19 in the third set, was led by Kaylee Martin with 15 kills and 16 digs. Sarah Kushner added 13 kills while Stef Jankiewicz had 34 assists, Kendal Meier 17 digs and Carley Nicholson had five service aces.
“We’re talking about competitive maturity and what it looks like in difficult moments,” said ISU head coach Leah Johnson. “We only thought at that point (in the third set) that the run wouldn’t be that long, and that’s not a good thing.
“We have to make things happen on our side of the net. We have to have a plan to deal with our score and our side-out game in a deliberate and purposeful manner. The ability of their underdogs to score a goal sometimes has us made nervous. “
Cincinnati, who played its season opener, received 19 kills each from Maria Tobergte and Madison Waters. The bears hit .259 versus the Redbirds’ .147.
“Both teams were missing key players,” said Johnson, whose team played without senior middle blocker Sydney Holt. “The rhythm was tough. I thought we passed the ball well and we still hit our left sides pretty well. Everyone tried to play their part but we had a hard time getting points and obviously the left ones too to stop.”