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This Week in Illini Athletics: Oct. 25-31, 2021

Illinois Football made history, and that’s just the beginning of the Illini’s wins.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to “This Week in Illini Athletics,” a weekly review of the past week of Illini sports and a preview of the week to come.

FOOTBALL (3-5 Overall, 2-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois football made history on Saturday. The Illini defeated #7 Penn State 20-18 (9OT) for their first road win over a top-25 team since 2007. And if you didn’t catch that, the game went to NINE overtimes, the most in NCAA history at any level. After a nearly never-ending battle, the Illini finally won it on this Brandon Peters pass to Casey Washington.

Before the overtimes, the Illini had an incredible game on the ground, rushing for 357 yards. Chase Brown gained 223 yards on 33 carries, and Josh McCray ran for 142 yards on 24 carries.

This Week: The Illini look to string wins together this Saturday when they host Rutgers at 11 a.m. for Dad’s Day.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL (14-7 Overall, 6-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini got back on track against some easier competition (by Big Ten standards) this week, defeating Northwestern and Michigan. At Northwestern on Wednesday, Illinois got off to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-20. The Illini settled in nicely after that first set though, winning the next three sets handily to take the match. Sophomore Raina Terry led the Illini with 21 kills on a .364 hitting percentage. Saturday’s match against Michigan was a nail-biter, with three of the four sets going to extra points. The Illini won the first two sets, and they were two points away from a sweep when they were up 23-21 in the third. Michigan battled back to force a fourth, but Illinois took care of business, taking the set 26-24 to finish the win. Megan Cooney was the star in the match, finishing with 20 kills on a .425 hitting percentage.

This Week: Illinois travels east for a pair of matches this weekend, taking on Rutgers on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Penn State on Saturday at 6 p.m.

WOMEN’S SOCCER (5-11-1 Overall, 1-8-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini dropped their final two matches of the season at home to Nebraska and to #9 Rutgers. It was a chippy match against Nebraska on Thursday, with three yellow cards handed out. Nebraska jumped out to the early lead with a goal in the first minute, but the Illini would equalize later in the first half on a goal from Maeve Jones. That would be all of the scoring for Illinois, however, as two more Cornhusker goals sealed Nebraska’s 3-1 victory. Against ninth-ranked Rutgers, the Illini fought hard, keeping the game scoreless for over 35 minutes. The Scarlet Knights finally broke the tie in the thirty-seventh minute, putting them up for good en route to a 3-0 win. At thirteenth in the Big Ten, the Illini missed the cut for the eight-team Big Ten Tournament. Illinois finishes the season with a 5-11-1 (1-8-1) record.

MEN’S BASKETBALL (0-0 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: In the first of their two exhibitions, the 11th-ranked Illini pounded St. Francis (IL) 101-34. Austin Hutcherson starred in the blowout with 14 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

This Week: Illinois plays its second and final exhibition on Friday, hosting Indiana (PA) at 7 p.m.

MEN’S and WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY

Last Week: Illinois used every bit of its home course advantage this week as it dominated the Illini Open on Friday. The Illini men had two of the top four times at the race, led by freshman Jake Myers’ second place finish (26:11.1). On the women’s side, four of the top five runners were Illini, with freshman Kate Dickman (22:16.0) taking the crown.

This Week: The Illini begin postseason competition this week, traveling to the Big Ten Championships at Penn State on Friday.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING (2-1 Overall, 0-1 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois split Saturday’s meet, defeating UIC 230-70 but losing 99-197 to Northwestern. Two Illini won events at the meet, with senior Abby Cabush winning the 200 freestyle (1:50.79) and sophomore Lily Olson taking the crown in the 50 yard freestyle (23.80) for the second week in a row.

This Week: The Illini head to Carbondale on Friday to take on Southern Illinois and Illinois State at 5 p.m.

MEN’S GOLF

Last Week: The Isleworth Collegiate Invitational at UCF was the Illini’s final tournament of the fall, and they sure made it count. As a team, Illinois placed second out of 14 behind only third-ranked Arizona State. The Illini finished just two strokes behind the Sun Devils on the weekend, but the gap between second and third was seven strokes. It’s safe to say the Illini once again placed themselves in the conversation among the top teams in the country. Individually, sophomore Piercen Hunt won the title for his first collegiate win. Not far behind, senior Adrien Dumont de Chassart finished in a tie for third.

This Week: Illinois men’s golf goes into hibernation for the winter before resuming competition in February.

WOMEN’S GOLF

This Week: Illinois plays its final event of the fall slate at UNC Wilmington’s Landfall Tradition from Friday to Sunday.

MEN’S TENNIS

Last Week: Eight Illini participated in the IDA Midwest Regionals, each competing in both singles and doubles. Olivier Stuart finished tops among the Illini in singles competition, winning three matches before losing in the quarterfinals. In doubles, the pairing of Stuart and Nic Meister won three matches, but they eventually lost in the semifinals.

This Week: The Illini head to South Carolina for the Gamecock Scramble from Friday to Sunday.

WOMEN’S TENNIS

Last Week: After qualifying at the ITA Midwest Regionals in September, six Illini competed at the ITA Midwest Super Regional this weekend. Both Illini doubles teams lost in the first round, while sophomore Kate Duong and Megan Heuser advanced to round of 16 in singles before bowing out.

This Week: Illinois travels to Knoxville this weekend for the Tennessee Hidden Dual from Friday to Sunday.