Illinois volleyball defeated all three of its opponents in the Illini Classic, improving to 11-0 on the season as the Illini prepare to enter Big Ten play next week. Illinois continued to fire on all cylinders, easily dispatching its first two opponents before taking down No. 10 Creighton in four sets.
September 14: #8 Illinois 3, UNI 0
Illinois opened up play at home this season by sweeping Northern Iowa 25-13, 26-24, 25-21, hitting .287. Jacqueline Quade led the attack with 15 kills, while Megan Cooney also reached double digits with ten. Ali Bastianelli also had a great game, picking up four blocks and three aces.
The Illini hit .287 on the day, holding the Panthers to a .116 percentage.
Jordyn Poulter had 39 assists, including her 4,000th career assist, moving her into fourth place all-time among Illinois setters.
September 15: #8 Illinois 3, Lipscomb 0
Hitting at an outrageous .513 clip, Illinois destroyed Lipscomb in their second match of the Illini Classic, 25-14, 25-13, 25-11. Meanwhile, the Bison were held to a .024 hitting percentage for the match, failing to have a positive percentage for two of the three sets. Quade and Cooney led the offense again, with 13 and 12 kills respectively.
Bastianelli led the team in blocks with eight, while Ashlyn Fleming contributed with another five.
September 15: #8 Illinois 3, #10 Creighton 1
In the Illini’s first match against another Top-10 opponent, a slow start couldn’t foil Illinois, who won three straights after dropping the first, 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23. Quade had a monster game, picking up 21 of Illinois’s 55 kills, while Megan Cooney picked up another 12 and Beth Prince had eight more.
Illinois’ blocking game was strong with 14 total blocks, led by Bastianelli with nine, and followed by Cooney and Blayke Hranicka, who each had five. Poulter had 45 assists on the match.
Big Picture: It’s Time for the B1G
There’s nothing like volleyball in the Big Ten, and that time has come again for the Illini. Despite being ranked eighth in the country, four other conference opponents are ranked above the Illini — and lie ahead in conference play.
The Illini spent their non-conference season showing what they’re made of, and now they really get to fight. The Illini kick off their Big Ten season next weekend, taking on No. 15 Purdue in West Lafayette on Friday, before playing Indiana on the road Saturday.
As the Illini kick off Big Ten play, they should be a team to look out for, and should challenge any team they face throughout the rest of the season, as they look to continue building their NCAA Tournament resume, and possibly gain home-court advantage for the early rounds.
For vintage inspired, high quality, and well-designed University of Illinois apparel, check out Fourth and Kirby, and look for the TCR Collection while you’re at it!