NORMAL, Ill. — Illinois State won a back-and-forth Missouri Valley Conference volleyball battle over 25th-ranked Northern Iowa Friday night, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 15-12.
UNI (20-6 overall, 10-2 MVC) defeated the Redbirds (15-10, 8-4) in four sets when they met earlier this season in Cedar Falls, but Illinois State rode a late run in the fifth set Friday to the win.
In the opening set, it was the Panthers with the finishing kick as they pulled away from a 21-21 tie to win it. Illinois State led by as many as five points in the second set and while UNI drew within a point three times down the stretch, the Redbirds held on to even the match.
Illinois State stayed hot in the third set while the Panther attack struggled as the Redbirds blew out to a 19-11 lead and cruised to a victory. UNI answered in the fourth set and went to a fifth set for the sixth time this season.
The Panthers jumped in front 5-0, but Illinois State caught up at 10-10 and surged to the win.
Piper Thomas had a career-high 24 kills for UNI, Karlie Taylor had 14 kills and 15 digs, Jaydlin Seehase had 10 kills, Bri Weber had nine kills and 15 digs, Heather Hook had 55 assists and 23 digs, Kendyl Sorge had 30 digs and Taylor Hedges finished with 18 digs.
Illinois State had four players in double digit kills. the Redbirds hit just .198, but UNI hit just .152 with 34 attack errors.
The Panthers play at Bradley Sunday afternoon.