The Hoosiers, who were receiving votes in the AVCA rankings and 46th in the RPI, fell to Illinois, 95th in the RPI, three sets to two (26-24, 18-25, 25-23, 10-25, 15-10). It’s Illinois’ only win against an opponent ranked above them in the RPI this season. They now move to 11-10 (6-5 Big Ten) on the year, while Indiana falls to 16-8 (6-5 Big Ten).
HOW IT HAPPENED
Illinois closed the first set 26-24 from the baseline, thanks to a service ace from setter Brooke Mosher. Mosher finished the match with 39 assists and eight digs.
The second set started as close as the first, but Indiana pulled away comfortably, 25-18.
The third set was just as neck-and-neck as the first, with 14 ties and six lead changes. Just like the first set, it would go down to the wire, with the Illinois serve being decisive yet again. Middle blocker Kennedy Collins recorded her career-high fifth ace of the match to bring the Illini one set away from pulling off the upset.
By the fourth set, it looked like Indiana had solved the puzzle of Illinois’s defense. A 6-0 run gave them the momentum and the upper hand with an 8-4 lead, and the Hoosiers never took their foot off the gas. They’d take the set 25-10, forcing a fifth.
The final set was as tight and end-to-end as the first and third were. Between sets four and five, Illinois head coach Chris Tamas was animated.
“He’s a calm coach and he doesn’t yell a lot, but in that timeout he did and I think that’s what got us fired up,” Collins said.
Whatever Tamas said in the huddle worked. Leading 11-10, everything came together for Illinois, winning four straight points (two by way of Raina Terry kills and one by way of a Terry/Collins block) to close the curtains on Indiana.
Gutsy win for the crew Lots of players stepping up big. Nice team W https://t.co/1M3VqZiWvl— Chris Tamas (@coachtamas) October 26, 2023
Indiana got the better of Illinois, winning 3-1, to open conference play, and the players didn’t forget it.
“It was kind of a revenge game for us. We started off the [Big Ten] season with a loss that we didn’t want and we wanted to take it back,” said libero Caroline Barnes.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
‘How to close a set’, presented by Brooke Mosher.
The first set had ten ties and five lead changes. After the visitors tied it at 24 a piece, the set entered sudden death — win two straight and win the set. The Illini did just that, with a one-two punch that we might start to see often: A Raina Terry kill and a Brooke Mosher service ace.
This point, sums up the way that Illinois has been playing on this four-match winning streak.
“All servers are just hitting a better ball right now,” Tamas said following the team’s road trip last week.
The Fighting Illini defense has been important, too. Illinois is 10-3 in games in which it leads in blocks.
Brooke Mosher’s serve and Jessica Nunge’s block— Zeno ‘Jeno’ Jo (@jenozenojeno) October 26, 2023
*chef’s kiss* pic.twitter.com/8DChe2nObP
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
A career high for Collins to close out the third.
They don’t just call it the “Block I” for nothing, right?
A lot of stars were in the house at Huff today. Along with athletic director Josh Whitman, women’s basketball coach Shauna Green, men’s basketball players Coleman Hawkins, Luke Goode, AJ Redd and Terrence Shannon Jr., and defensive tackle Johnny Newton in attendance among others.
- Heading into the match, Indiana setter Camryn Haworth led the NCAA in service aces with 53 strikes. After the match, Illinois libero Caroline Barnes said, “When you face a server like that, all you want to do is stop her and have her leave the game with no aces.” Haworth left Huff Hall with 53. The Illinois backline put in a shift, with Barnes (21) and Vanessa Pan (19, season-high) combining for 40.
- Redshirt freshman middle blocker Cari Bohm had herself an evening, smashing a career-high 10 kills while hitting .643.
- Illinois wore the sleeveless white jerseys, and with the win they moved to 6-1 while wearing them.
- Trick or Treat Night at Huff Hall featured costumes and candy, but Illinois was not serving any lollipops over the net. They recorded ten aces to Indiana’s three, with the two sides even at eight errors each.
If Indiana was a revenge game, Illinois’s next game against Purdue would be one, too. Illinois lost 3-0 at Holloway Gym in West Lafayette, Indiana earlier this month, a match that was Purdue’s quickest of the season.
The first serve for the match on Saturday is set to take place at 6 p.m. C.T. from Huff Hall on Big Ten Plus.