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This Week in Illini Athletics: Dec. 6-12, 2021

Illinois volleyball is still dancing, how sweet it is!

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.

MEN’S BASKETBALL (6-2 Overall, 1-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: After a rocky start to the season, the Illini played their best basketball yet in wins over Notre Dame and Rutgers at State Farm Center. Illinois hosted the Fighting Irish for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Monday, defeating them 82-72. The Illini got out to a 16-point lead early in the second half, but Notre Dame cut that all the way to five before Illinois pulled away at the end. Kofi Cockburn and Alfonso Plummer led the Illini with 28 and 21 points, respectively. Illinois then kicked off Big Ten competition on Friday, and it absolutely crushed Rutgers. The Illini controlled the game throughout, leading by double-digits after just 10 minutes en route to an 86-51 victory. Plummer scored 24 points in the winning effort, his fourth straight game scoring at least 20.

This Week: Illinois travels to Iowa tonight for a 6 p.m. matchup. The Illini then resume non-conference play on Saturday when they host #11 Arizona at 4 p.m.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL (22-11 Overall, Sweet Sixteen)

Last Week: The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and the Illini are still dancing. In the first round on Friday, Illinois dropped the first set 25-23 to West Virginia, but it stormed back with a 25-12 win in the second set and never looked back. The Illini went on to win 3-1 and advance to the second round, and their reward was a matchup with host and defending national champion #7 Kentucky. Illinois played the champs even through two sets, taking the first by a score of 25-22 but losing the second 25-20. After the break though, the Illini ran the Wildcats off their own floor. Illinois dominated the third set 25-10, and its hot stretch continued into the fourth where it jumped out to a 10-1 lead. The Illini ultimately won the set 25-21, sealing their third Sweet Sixteen berth in five years. Sophomore Raina Terry led the Illini on Saturday with a career-high 27 kills in the match.

This Week: The Illini travel to Texas for the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, taking on Big Ten rival #10 Nebraska in the Sweet Sixteen Thursday night at 8:30. Should Illinois advance, it will play the winner of #2 Texas vs. #15 Washington on Saturday (time TBA).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (4-4 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini split a pair of games at State Farm Center this week, losing to #25 Florida State on Thursday but defeating Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. Illinois was competitive in its first ranked matchup of the season, and it entered the fourth quarter within 5, but a strong final period from FSU sealed its 67-58 victory. On Sunday, the Illini rebounded from a poor start in the first quarter, and sophomore Kendall Bostic rebounded her way into the record books. EKU led by 6 after the first quarter, but Illinois righted the ship and earned a 71-57 win. Meanwhile, Bostic grabbed 22 rebounds, the third-highest single-game mark in Illini history.

This Week: Illinois opens Big Ten play at MSU on Thursday at 6 p.m. before returning home to host Butler on Sunday afternoon at 2.

WRESTLING (0-0 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

This Week: Illinois is back in action on Saturday in Edwardsville against Chattanooga and SIUE.