CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Make that SIX. Illinois Volleyball carried over its red-hot October form into November, opening the month with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-23) win over the Northwestern Wildcats at Huff Hall.
With the win, Illinois advances to 13-10 (8-5 Big Ten), while Northwestern falls to 11-12 (5-8 Big Ten).
Raina Terry made history, en route to a match-high 22 kills. She broke the 1,500-kill mark and entered the top ten of Illinois’ all-time career kills list. She also became the first player in Illinois history and the only active Big Ten player with at least 1,500 kills and 150 service aces.
“She’s a weapon for sure,” said head coach Chris Tamas. “I keep telling everyone teams are gonna set up for her but we’re still gonna set her. She’s used to that and she still hits a heavy ball.”
Following the win, Terry said, “You’re supposed to be playing your best volleyball of the season right now and I think that’s what we’re doing.”
Good defense, great passing and Raina Terry being... well, Raina Terry, were the highlights of a hard-fought three-set win for the Fighting Illini.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first set was neck and neck. Both teams struggled to pull away from each other in a back-and-forth battle that featured 11 ties and six lead changes. The set was characterized by long rallies and great defense — set one finished with the most blocks by both teams.
The second set looked like Illinois’s to lose from the start. A quick 8-1 run saw the Wildcats on the back foot, but they managed to work their way up, tying the game at 20-20. After dealing with the arms of Raina Terry and Kayla Burbage for 40+ points, Mosher capped off the set with a bold dump, catching the Northwestern back row off-guard. The Wildcats never led in the second set.
The third set was just as tight as the first two, but Northwestern didn’t do enough to prevent it from becoming the final act of the night. It was a tight one yet again, with no team leading by more than three points. The final whistle was blown when Raina Terry notched her 22nd kill of the night, closing the curtains on a fabulous three-game homestand.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
This long rally was one of the last sequences of that tense first set, and it featured everything that Illinois did right. A Vanessa Pan dig, two quality Raina Terry hits, and a rock-solid Mosher-Collins block which forced the Wildcats attack to go wide of the box.
One of Brooke Mosher’s 40 assists on the night. She’s hit the 40 mark nine times this season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
When it rains, it pours.
I mean, is there anything left to say?
- “I could make a good argument she should be on that wall already,” Tamas said. Raina Terry now finds herself on the all-time career kills list near players already on that wall in Huff.
In great company.— Illinois Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) November 2, 2023
After Raina Terry's 22-kill match tonight, she sits at the number 10 spot on Illinois' all-time career kills list between All-American Honorable Mention @meganCooney and Olympian @bartschy.
#Illini | #HTTO pic.twitter.com/Z8cs7kxbRg
- Libero Caroline Barnes had yet another outstanding defensive match. She and her back-row partner in crime, defensive specialist Vanessa Pan, both put up double-digit digs, leading the team in that stat. Raina Terry, who led the match in kills with 22, said “It gives us the freedom to take big rips. Being able to trust that our back row is behind us.”
#Illini libero Caroline Barnes had 18 digs in last night's win over Northwestern, her NINTH straight match with double-digit digs.— Zeno ‘Jeno’ Jo (@jenozenojeno) November 2, 2023
She's played a huge role in the six-game winning streak that this Illinois team is on.
- The Fighting Illini are now 7-1 in the white sleeveless uniforms if that kind of thing matters to you.
The last time Illinois won six straight matches was in 2021. The team to snap that streak? The Wisconsin Badgers.
“Night and day,” is the phrase that Chris Tamas used to compare the team that lost to Wisconsin 3-0 in early October to the team that will be playing them this Saturday.
“We’re playing a lot better all-around and people are figuring out their role on the floor and their spacing around one another so it should be a good battle,” he added.
Illinois will make the trip to Madison to take on the Badgers, who are 21-1 (12-1 Big Ten). Their only loss came against current NCAA and Big Ten No. 1 Nebraska.
First serve for the match will take place at 7 p.m. C.T. on Saturday, November 4, also available on Big Ten Network.