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This Week in Illini Athletics: Nov. 14-20, 2022

Let’s just act like football didn’t happen.

Olivia Howell after winning first place in the 6k race at Regionals

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 (7-3 Overall, 4-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: What is there to say? If you are reading this you probably watched the game or at least know what happened. You probably have heard over a million different takes and opinions on the loss to Purdue. To come so close to something that the Illini haven’t achieved in years (trip to Indy), to have it slip away is heart-breaking. Everyone has the right to be mad and discouraged, but let's rewind real quick. The Fighting Illini are 7-3... Who in their right mind ever thought we would be disappointed at a 7-3 Fighting Illini football team? Surely not me, especially after having to endure the dark ages of Lovie & Beckman; being mediocre was a successful season. Not anymore. Those days are now in the past as the Illini have now become a contender in the west, who recently have hit a hard learning curve. So be discouraged and mad, but what the boys have done this year is nothing short of incredible and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Plus... a way to Indy still exists

Final: ILL 24 - PUR 31

This Week: This game will either be the dagger that ends Illinois B1G West dreams, or a huge spark that would ignite the landscape of college football. Illinois will be at the Big House facing off against #3 Michigan. Let’s shock the world, everybody.

Volleyball (13-13 Overall, 8-8 Big Ten)

Last Week: The weekend trip up to Michigan was a resounded success for the spike squad, who so badly needed some momentum with the season quickly coming to a close.

  • vs. Michigan State - Although Michigan State sits at the bottom of the B1G with only one win against conference opponents, they matched up against the Fighting Illini pretty well. First set was a close affair with both squads not managing to gain any breathing room. With it knotted up at 23’s, Illinois’ Rylee Hinton had back to back kills to grab a set 1 victory. Michigan State then followed that up with an all time blunder in the 2nd set. The Spartans held a 19-13 lead over the Illini, a mere 6 points away from victory. The combination of Michigan State attack errors and timely Illini kills allowed the Illinois to rally back and stun Michigan State 25-23. The 3rd set was very much like the first, with no breathing room to spare. Illinois did manage to grab a 24-18 lead, one point away from victory, but the Spartans would rally to within 2. But as soon as they got within sticking distance, the Illini put Michigan State away.

Set 1: ILL 25 - MSU 23 | Set 2: ILL 25 - MSU 23 | Set 3: ILL 25 - MSU 22 | Final: ILL 3 - MSU 0

  • vs. Michigan - Staying the state of Michigan, Illinois took on the Wolverines last Saturday. The 1st set saw a back and forth affair that eventually went into “extras”. With the Illini at set point, Michigan went on 2-0 run to take the lead, the Illini then did the same. At 27-27 the Illini finally one consecutive points to win by 2. Up a set the Illini did not back down. Brooke Mosher, Raina Terry, and Jessica Nunge made their presences known by smoking balls onto the opponents hardwood a combined 12 times. Lifting the Illini to a 25-21 set 2 win. Illinois could smell another sweep on the horizon, but a late major run by the Wolverines kept them in the match. Set 4 saw the Wolverines jump to an early lead, but the Illini trailed close behind. Michigan tried to throw the whole kitchen sink at Illinois, but the Illini had answer to every single possession. A Michigan attack error ended the set in favor of Illinois 25-19, as the Illini earned 2 wins out of the state of Michigan.

Set 1: ILL 29 - MICH 27 | Set 2: ILL 25 - MICH 21 | Set 3: ILL 22 - MICH 25 | Set 4: ILL 25 - MICH 19 | Final: ILL 3 - MICH 1

This Week: The Spike Squad will face up against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and a renewed date with Michigan State.

#23 Men’s Basketball (Overall 2-0, Big Ten 0-0)

Last Week: Men’s College Basketball is officially a week in, and here is how your Illini did over their first 2 matchups.

  • vs. Eastern Illinois - State Farm Center was rocking for this newly assembled Illinois squad. The starting five was consisted of Sky Clark, RJ Melendez, Mathew Mayer, Terrence Shannon Jr., and Coleman Hawkins. Not knowing what to expect, it was nice to see a returning face get the Illini rolling. Coleman Hawkins must of sold his soul to the devil as he channeled his inter-sharpshooter going 5-8 from behind the arch, something that nobody saw coming. Transfer, Terrence Shannon Jr. had an incredible welcoming party to Champaign. Leading the Illini with 24 points going 13-15 from the free throw line.

Final: ILL 87 - EIU 57

Top Performers

Terrence Shannon Jr: 24 pts | 8 rebs | 2 ast | 1 blk

Coleman Hawkins: 23 pts | 12 rebs | 3 ast | 1 blk | 5-8 3pt

Dain Dainja: 17 pts | 10 rebs | 2 blks

  • vs. Kansas City - Facing off against the Roos in their second contest, the Illini did not look sharp out of the gate starting just 1-of-18 from the field and 0-of-12 from behind the arch. Illinois went into the half leading 39-23, not good when considering we were playing down to our competition. Eventually the Illini found their stride behind three newcomers Terrance Shannon Jr., Dain Dainja, and freshman Jayden Eeps.

Final: ILL 86 - UMKC 48

Top Performers

Terrence Shannon Jr: 14 pts | 4 rebs | 5 ast

Dain Dainja: 20 pts | 15 rebs | 5 blks

Jayden Eeps: 13 pts | 3 rebs | 3 ast

This Week: After playing Monmouth to start off the week, the boys will travel to Vegas to face off against stiffer competition in #8 UCLA and #5 Baylor or #18 Virginia.

Women’s Basketball (Overall 2-0, Big Ten 0-0)

Last Week: Women’s basketball opened up their season taking care of business last week. The team moved to 2-0 on the young season.

  • vs. Long Island - This was, new head coach, Shauna Green’s first game holding the reigns for the Illini as they looked to open up the season with style. LIU had no answers for the Illini in the first quarter, as they went on multiple runs including a 16-0 run to close out the first quarter. Nothing much changed in the second, as Illinois went into halftime with a 40-17 advantage. The Illini would go on to lead as much as 41, as they routed Long Island.

Final: ILL 75 - LIU 40

Top Performers

Kendall Bostic: 16 pts | 11 rebs | 8-11 fg

Makira Cook: 14 pts | 4 rebs | 2 stl

Adalia McKenzie: 12 pts | 7 rebs | 3 asts

  • vs. Alcorn State - There is not much to evaluate here. Excellent play by the Illini, especially their guards, allowed them to win this game by a wide-margin. Makira Cook had a day putting up some ridiculous numbers to start the season. Illinois took care of business again at home moving on to 2-0 on the young season.

Final: ILL 90 - Alcorn State 59

Top Performers

Makira Cook: 21 pts | 9 rebs | 5 stl | 4-5 3pt

Adalia McKenzie: 17 pts | 6 rebs | 3 asts

Genesis Bryant: 15 pts | 3 rebs | 3 asts | 9-9 ft

Jada Peebles: 14 pts | 3 rebs | 5-8 fg

This Week: They will stay home with games against McNeese State and Evansville.


Last Week: At the Tiger Style Invite in Kansas City, MO the Illini were able to have 13 total Illini place-winners overall. Individually Lucas Byrd and Edmond Ruth both won their weight classes. Byrd defeated Connor Brown (Missouri) with a 7-3 decision. Ruth defeated his opponent Peyton Mocco (Missouri) with a decision 7-5 decision.

This Week: The wrestling team will attend the Arm Bar at the Armory meet in Albany, NY as they go up against Buffalo and NC State.

Women’s Tennis

Last Week: Kate Duong and Megan Heuser won duos in the USTA/ITF 15K. This counts as their first professional title in tennis. This wraps up tennis for the fall.

Cross Country

Last Week: Both Men’s and Women’s cross country teams competed in the NCAA Regional. But only one athlete was able to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma.

This Week: Best of luck to Olivia as she goes for the title next Saturday at the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma.