NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYTZZ) — Illinois State is hoping for some deja vu on the volleyball floor this weekend.
In 2019, ISU upset a nationally-ranked Illinois team on the way to securing an NCAA berth. The Redbirds, who are the defending Missouri Valley champs, will host the Illini on Friday night.
“I think it’s a healthy respect between us and the Illini. I love that. I love that our programs can see each other in such a good space, competing as Top 25 programs,” said ISU volleyball coach Leah Johnson.
The Redbirds beat Illinois, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21 and 25-21 on Sept. 13, 2019 in front of a big crowd.
“It was fun to have nearly 4,000 fans there. They were ranked 14th at the time, then beat them in four sets,” said Johnson, who has taken ISU to three straight NCAA Tournaments. “Every year since I’ve been here, this is going into year five, each of the previous four seasons we’ve had a Top 25 win. It just changes the way you think of yourself.”
ISU hosts a four-team tournament this weekend. The Redbirds North Texas Friday at 10 a.m. before playing the Illini at 7 p.m.
ISU plays Missouri Saturday at 2 p.m. in its final game of the weekend.