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Illinois volleyball heads into NCAA Tournament after strong season

Veteran talent led the way for the Fighting Illini.

The Fighting Illini Volleyball team concluded its regular season this past week on a three-match win streak.

This year’s Illinois squad was no stranger to piecing wins together. The season began similar to the way it ended, with a string of victories and a fierce-looking Illini team. Illinois started off 6-0, only dropping one of its first 19 sets on the year. It wasn’t until a packed Huff Hall played host to the defending National Champion Stanford Cardinal that the Illini saw their first loss.

As the season stretched on and Big Ten play got underway, Illinois battled inconsistencies. Win streaks would quickly be followed by losing streaks, as bouncing back immediately was tough.

However, Illinois has experienced consistent play from their top performers. Junior Ali Bastianelli is fourth in the country and leads the Big Ten in blocks per set with 1.59. Another junior in Jordyn Poulter has continued dominating in her specialty, assists. Poulter has moved into the eight spot on the program’s all-time assists chart.

Senior Brandi Donnelly’s veteran talent has been on full display, ending the regular season on a high-note by moving into second place in the programs career digs category with 1,985.

Chris Tamas is in his first year as head coach with the Fighting Illini and capped off the regular season with a 21-10 record overall and 12-8 mark in conference play.

The team clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament and will play Hawaii in Seattle on Friday, Dec. 1.