CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Never back down never what? Illinois Volleyball continued its revenge tour, coming from behind to take down the Ohio State Buckeyes in five sets, winning 3-2 (25-18, 24-26, 20-25, 25-19, 15-6).
It was an 8 p.m. game on Wednesday, meaning it was always going to be a late finish, but the dozens of the 2,344 fans at Huff that left after Illinois dropped the third set missed a good one.
Illinois has won eight of their last ten, and are unbeaten in that stretch against teams that aren’t ranked No. 1 or No. 2. They’ve had several wins in that span that were revenge matches against opponents they’ve lost to earlier in the year, such as Indiana or Purdue. Ohio State was another one to add to that list.
“On paper, we won that [first] game,” Raina Terry said. “Everybody was ready for revenge.”
Illinois improves to 15-12 (10-7 Big Ten), meaning they’ll finish with a .500 record at worst, while Ohio State falls to 10-16 (7-10 Big Ten).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first set was characterized by great Illinois serving. A 6-0 run helped the Illini pull away, fueled by three Brooke Mosher aces. Emily Londot, the Big Ten’s leader in kills per set, had nine kills, good for half of Ohio State’s 18 points in the set. She averaged 6 per set on Wednesday with 30, above her season average of 4.90 heading into the match.
Sets two and three were tight, but taken by the Buckeyes, thanks to excellent game management from head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg. A well-timed timeout helped flip a 23-24 into a 26-24 Buckeye set one. The third set was close, but Ohio State would clinch it, winning three of the last five points of the frame.
Tamas challenged his team to play better heading into the fourth set. Going into the fourth set, his message to his team in the huddle was to “trust their ability to play better and just keep the communication up.”
Illinois would force a fifth in the end, leading to an all-or-nothing fifth set. Brooke Mosher opened the set with three consecutive service aces to shatter her previous record of five. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Collins came alive in the last frame, putting up four of her five kills in the fifth set to push Illinois to a comeback victory.
It wasn’t just a career night for Illinois’ Brooke Mosher, who set career highs in assists (50) and aces (7). Ohio State outside hitter Emily Londot had a career-high 30 kills, leading the match. Raina Terry would lead the way for Illinois with 27, while Nunge had 13 and Burbage had 11.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Despite the Illinois offense causing problems for the Buckeyes and leading to several overpasses in the match, their resilience and no-quit attitude earned them sets two and three.
Three straight aces not just to surpass her career-high, but to earn the first three points of the fifth set.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Sweet Caroline baa baa baa. Caroline Barnes had a team-high 21 digs.
Illinois (84) has another win against an opponent higher than them in the RPI Rankings after Wednesday’s win over Ohio State (79). Postseason is very much still in play for Illinois, who now rank fifth in the Big Ten.
“We don’t have much control over [a postseason berth], other than to win everything that’s in front of us,” Tamas said, “We put ourselves in that spot and make it tough on the committee, then we just go from there.”
Illinois will continue its push for the tourney on Saturday when they host the Michigan Wolverines. First serve at Huff Hall is set for 6 p.m. The game will be on Big Ten Plus and on radio at WDWS.