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Illinois volleyball gets first taste of Big Ten action

Next stop... Conference.

Brad Repplinger // TCR

Illinois wrapped up its non-conference slate and has begun its challenging Big Ten schedule. The volleyball team put itself against some extremely tough competition early on, leaving them knotted up at a 5-5 record before their Big Ten opening weekend with matchups against Indiana and Michigan State.

The Illini secured convincing victories against Northern Illinois, Valparaiso, Illinois State, UIC, and Bradley. However, they faced setbacks against Wichita State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and UCF.

In terms of individual performance, Raina Terry continues to display her dominance on the floor, building upon her impressive previous season after being named a unanimous All-Big Ten First-Team Selection. Through ten matches, Terry already has 200 kills for the season, contributing a total of 233.0 points for the spike squad.

With Terry leading the way, the Illini are determined to make a strong showing in a highly competitive Big Ten conference.

Illinois (5-5 Overall) at Indiana (10-3 Overall)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind — Mosher double-double not enough for opening win.

The Illini went an even 10-10 in the Big Ten last season, losing their only matchup against the Hoosiers 3-1. Indiana this season is sporting an overall record of 10-3, sweeping their opponents in all but one win (vs Miami 3-2).

The match started off with Cari Bohm kill for the Illini, but in the early stages Indiana went on multiple deep runs. With the Illini trailing by seven Indiana scored 5 points consecutively to put set one out of reach.

Illinois knew it needed to respond in a big way to keep Indiana within striking distance. That’s when the duo of Raina Terry and Brooke Mosher came to play. The pair collectively scored or assisted on 19 points in set two alone, allowing the Illini to pull out a tightly contested set two.

Just like the previous two sets, the Illini struck first snagging an early lead. The Hoosiers eventually would knot it up at 7, before going on a monstrous run that saw them separate from the Illini by 8 points. Illinois would make a small push to make things interesting but the Hoosiers lead was too much.

Much like the rest of the match, the Illini could not minimize the Hoosiers massive runs in the fourth. With it tied up at fours Indiana went on the attack, growing their lead to 10. That didn’t deprive the Illini however, as they fought tooth and nail but their comeback attempt fell short. Indiana won its last two sets by the score of 25-17.

Set 1: ILL 13 - IU 25 | Set 2: ILL 26 - IU 24 | Set 3: ILL 17 - IU 25 | Set 4: ILL 17 - IU 25

Final: IU 3 - ILL 1

Illinois (5-6 Overall, 0-1 Big Ten) vs Michigan State (9-3 Overall, 1-0 Big Ten)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill — Illinois with first BIG win at Huff Hall.

The Illini were back in Champaign on Sunday as they put on a much anticipated show in front of the home faithful. After dropping their first Big Ten showdown, this home-opener was seen almost as must-win to many.

Michigan State won its first conference game on the road against their bitter rivals Michigan on Thursday, so it came no surprise that the Spartans were ready to go the distance in Huff Hall.

The first set saw the score get knotted up on five different occasions. Both squads came out with the hair on fire, going back and forth with the largest margin only being as much as four points. With the Illini reaching set point, the Spartans came roaring back to get within one. But before they could tie it up, a service error gave the Illini a set one victory.

In the fourth, Illinois now had its back against the wall. If Illinois was unable to win this set and force a fifth final set, they would be 0-2 to start conference play, a spot they so desperately needed to avoid. The Illini found themselves down to start out, but tied it up around the half way mark at 15. It stayed that way until both reached 21 points; that’s when the Illini put their foot on the petal scoring four of the last five points to force a firth and final set.

With the fifth only going to 15 point, it was extremely important to not fall behind if you were the Illini. Both teams were trading blows as the finish line neared, but the Illini were the first team to reach mile marker 10. Illinois held a six-point margin over Michigan State and was only five points away from capping off an impressive win. The Spartans, however, had different plans. MSU’s Grace Kelly and others chipped away at Illinois lead, eventually cutting the difference to only one. With the score 14-13 in favor of the home squad, Illinois’ Kennedy Collins spiked the final points to send Huff Hall into a frenzy.

Set 1: MSU 23 - ILL 25 | Set 2: MSU 26 - ILL 24 | Set 3: MSU 25 - ILL 23 | Set 4: MSU 22 - ILL 25 | Set 5: MSU 13 - ILL 15

Final: MSU 2 - ILL 3

What’s Next?

Illinois volleyball (6-6 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten) has dates with Penn State and Iowa this weekend in Champaign.