In Illinois’s second weekend of Big Ten play, the Illini picked up their 14th win before their first loss on Saturday, to a No. 3 Nebraska squad. After sweeping the Hawkeyes, the Illini put up a good fight against the Huskers, taking one set before falling in four.
September 28: #7 Illinois 3, Iowa 0
The Illini cruised through three sets on Friday, defeating the Hawkeyes 25-20, 25-16, 25-20. Jordyn Poulter picked up 46 assists as Jacqueline Quade and Ali Bastianelli led the offense, with 12 and 11 kills each respectively. Ashlyn Fleming also had a great game offensively, hitting .692 with nine kills on 13 attempts, with no errors. Fleming and Poulter also made up the Illini’s big block, with five apiece.
Meanwhile, the Illini defense held off Iowa, restricting them to a .105 hitting percentage.
September 29: #3 Nebraska 3, #7 Illinois 1
Illinois was unable to continue their winning streak Saturday, as they lost to the defending national champion 14-25, 25-19, 17-25, 19-25. Illinois hit .157 on the match, their lowest mark of the season to date. Despite that, Jacqueline Quade led the offense with 22 kills, followed by Beth Prince with 12.
Illinois only had two aces on the match, with Kylie Bruder and Caroline Welsh each picking up one. Jordyn Poulter was playing for the Illini in all sorts of roles, picking up 42 assists, 13 digs, four blocks and four kills on the evening.
Big Picture: Two Big Weeks Ahead
The Illini will face yet another top-ranked opponent Wednesday, as No. 5 Wisconsin comes to town. Coming off Saturday’s loss, a win against the Badgers would be a huge for the Illini, who plays them. With three Top-10 opponents in the span of two weeks, this will be a huge week for the Illini as they look to pick up quality wins in their toughest stretch of the season.
Illinois is right behind Wisconsin and Minnesota in the rankings, and we should see some closely-contested matches as Illinois looks to continue their best start to a season since 2011.
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