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 (1-2 Overall, 1-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: This weekend’s road trip is one the Illini would likely rather forget, as they were outclassed by Virginia in a 42-14 defeat. The game was not without its bright spots, however. In his return from injury, running back Chase Brown gained 41 yards on seven carries, including a 21-yard touchdown to cap off the opening drive of the second half. And quarterback-turned-receiver Deuce Spann once again made a splash, catching a 33-yard Art Sitkowski bomb in the endzone for his second touchdown in as many games.
This Week: The Big Ten West-leading Illini look to stay undefeated in the Big Ten when they host Maryland under the Memorial Stadium lights on Friday night at 8.
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL (5-3 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: The Illini went a very respectable 2-1 this weekend at Creighton’s Bluejay Invitational. In the first of its three games, Illinois defeated Omaha in a match that was not as close as the 3-1 final score would make it appear. Despite dropping the third set, Illinois still outscored the Mavericks by 25 points over the entire match, including a dominant 25-11 fourth set to clinch the victory. Friday evening, Illinois followed up one blowout win with another, besting SMU by an average of 10 points per set (25-14, 25-13, 25-18) in the sweep. But the Illini couldn’t quite grab a third consecutive victory on Saturday as #16 Creighton topped Illinois in four sets. After a poor start in the first two sets, Illinois came out strong in the third set, taking it 27-25. In the thrilling fourth set, Creighton built a 23-16 lead, only to see the Illini rip off eight straight points to go up 24-23. Illinois would fall just short, however, as Creighton eked out a 33-31 victory in the fourth set to seal it. Illini outside hitters Megan Cooney and Raina Terry were both named to the Bluejay Invitational All-Tournament Team.
This Week: Illinois closes its non-conference schedule this weekend at the Redbird Classic in Normal. On Friday, the Illini face a pair of rivals, with matches against Missouri at noon and against Illinois State at 7 p.m. The Illini finish the weekend on Saturday at 11 a.m. against North Texas.
WOMEN’S SOCCER (4-3 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)
Last Week: Illinois had a very successful road trip last week as it picked up wins over Bowling Green and Toledo. On Thursday against the Falcons, the Illini opened up a three-goal lead in the first half and never looked back. Bowling Green finally broke through with a goal in the 76th minute, but Illinois tacked on two more goals late to put the game away. Five different players scored for the Illini in the 5-1 victory. On Sunday against Toledo, it was the Illini defense that stole the show. Both teams struggled to find the back of the net for most of the match, and the game remained scoreless well into the second half. But Illinois finally broke the tie in the 79th minute with freshman Sydney Stephens scoring the first goal of her career. The Illini defense remained stout in the final 10 minutes, and Illinois took home a 1-0 win.
This Week: The Illini look to add to their winning streak when they open up Big Ten play at #16 Michigan on Friday at 4 p.m.
MEN’S and WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
This Week: After a week off, the Illini cross country teams take a short trip to Normal on Friday for Illinois State’s Redbird Invite.
Last Week: The Illini opened up the fall season with a tournament win, splitting the Hoosier Collegiate Invitational title with Cincinnati. Seniors Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Tommy Kuhl finished second and fourth, respectively.
This Week: This weekend from Friday to Sunday, Illinois hosts the Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields Country Club.
This Week: Today and tomorrow, the Illini play at Michigan’s Wolverine Invitational to open their fall slate.