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Illini Volleyball sweeps Cleveland State Invitational

Illinois is now 8-0, their best start to a season since their 2011 national runner-up finish.

Twitter: @IlliniVBall

Illinois Volleyball cruised through the Cleveland State Invitational this weekend, defeating three opponents, each in three sets. Sophomore outside hitter Megan Cooney would receive Tournament MVP honors, while freshman defensive specialist Taylor Kuper and sophomore libero Morgan O’Brien were both placed on the All-Tournament team.

The 11th-ranked Illini are now 8-0, and poised to finally break into the Top 10 in the AVCA poll following losses by the three teams directly above them.

Here’s a recap of the weekend for the Illini.

Sept. 7: #11 Illinois 3, Bowling Green 0

Playing an early Friday morning game at 9:30 a.m., the Illini didn’t have any troubles waking up and taking down the Falcons, 25-18, 25-15, 25-13.

Illinois hit an outstanding .400 for the game, as Megan Cooney led the way for the Illini with 14 kills, while Taylor Kuper picked up two aces and Ali Bastianelli had six blocks.

Sept. 7: #11 Illinois 3, Cleveland State 0

Playing against tournament host Cleveland State, Illinois made quick work of the Vikings, defeating them 25-13, 25-6, 25-16 in just over an hour, holding them to an abysmal .020 hitting percentage. By allowing only six points in the second set, the Illini set a new team record for fewest points allowed in the rally-serve era.

Jacqueline Quade led the offense with 16 kills, while Ali Bastianelli and Megan Cooney each had ten. Taylor Kuper continued to serve well for the Illini, picking up another four aces on the evening to bring her season total to 17.

Sept. 8: #11 Illinois 3, UC Irvine 0

Another morning game led to another win for the Illini, who beat the Anteaters, 25-14, 25-13, 25-23. Megan Cooney had 15 kills in the match, while Jacqueline Quade and Beth Prince each contributed with seven. Illinois’ defensive specialists also helped on offense, as libero Morgan O’Brien had five aces and Caroline Welsh had two.

Big Picture: Close Out The Non-Conference Season

The Illini head to Huff Hall next week, where they will take on UNI, Lipscomb and Creighton to wrap up play against a strong cast of non-conference opponents. Entering the Big Ten season undefeated after one of the toughest non-conference seasons in years would be huge for the Illini, as they head into conference play against some of the best programs in college volleyball.

While Creighton is the only currently ranked opponent the Illini will face next weekend, UNI has picked up two wins against ranked schools, including a five-set upset of fifth-ranked Kentucky. Though Lipscomb should be the weakest opponent of the weekend, it should be an exciting match as Illinois’s Taylor Kuper (F-DS) will be playing against her sister Megan, a sophomore outside hitter for the Bisons.