SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State volleyball team dropped the first two sets to visiting Illinois State Friday evening at Hammons Student Center but rallied behind a team season-high 22 kills and nine digs from freshman Olivia Brand to capture a 21-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-8 victory in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both schools.
A lackluster first two sets saw Missouri State (8-3, 1-0 MVC) trailing 2-0 despite recording 27 kills to 20 for the Redbirds (8-5, 0-1), as ISU made up 10 points on attack errors and four on service aces while out-blocking MSU 11-2.
Brand entered the match midway through the second period and provided a spark, scoring six kills on seven swings, and then had 10 more in just 17 attempts in the third stanza as the Bears jumped to an early 11-3 lead. The MSU defense continued to clamp down as well, holding ISU to an .074 or worse hitting percentage in each of the final four sets and .054 for the match.
The Bears used an early 8-0 run in the fourth to lead 10-4, while Brand passed Christine McCartney’s MSU season-high for kills with her 19th to put the Bears ahead 15-9 and added and ace for a 17-9 score.
Then in the fifth, Illinois State committed eight attack errors, hitting -.120 as a team while the Bears hit .235. Calli Norman had four blocks and the Bears stuffed five ISU attacks in the fifth for an easy 15-8 win after an early 4-4 tie.
Brand’s 22 kills came with three errors and 39 attempts for a .487 hitting percentage. McCartney added 12 kills and Norman had nine to pass Sara Staubach for 14th in school history with 1,044.
Norman’s 10 blocks marked a career high and is the most for a Missouri State player since the NCAA adopted 25-point sets for the 2008 season. Sara Thomas was the last player to reach double figures with an 11-block effort against Wichita State in 2007.
Ashley Mason led the Bears with 18 digs and Carly Thomas notched 47 assists and 12 digs.
The Bears host Indiana State (7-4, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Sycamores lost 3-0 at Wichita State Friday in their MVC opener.