Volleyball resumed in Champaign this past weekend as the Illini hosted the reigning champion Nittany Lions of Penn State on Friday, and the Buckeyes of Ohio State the following evening. Coach Hambly and his team returned after a 12 match road trip which included three tournaments and the opening of Big Ten play.
Coming into the weekend match-ups Illinois had an overall current season record of 11-4 and a 2-2 conference record, having lost the final two matches of the road trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota. By all accounts, the extended time away took a toll on the team as there wasn’t much opportunity for them to practice or train. While Illinois dropped the weekend contests to both Penn State and Ohio State (both matches 1-3), they never gave up the fight.
Trailing by a score of 24-21 in the third set of Friday night’s game, the Illini rallied for 5 straight points to keep the match alive. In Saturday’s battle, Illinois came close to forcing a 5th set, falling short in set 4 by a score of 25-27 just as they had the night before. The season continues this weekend with match-ups against Iowa on Friday, and #3 ranked Nebraska on Saturday. Illinois is currently ranked at #16.
Illinois vs. Penn State: October 9th, 2015
(16-25, 18-25, 26-24, 25-27)
Opposite Side Hitter Naya Crittenden psychs up the team prior to the match.
Opposite Side Hitter Ali Stark with the save.
Outside Hitter Jocelyn Birks goes up for the kill. Birks had 21 kills and 2 blocks on the evening.
Penn State's Kendall Pierce serves.
Outside Hitter Michelle Strizak on offense. Strizak led the team with 22 kills.
Defensive Specialist Allison Palmer serves.
Crittenden on offense. Crittenden led the Illini in blocks for the evening with 3.
Defensive Specialist Julia Conard during a time out.
Libero Brandi Donnelly receives the serve. Donnelly had 25 digs on the night.
Penn State's Haleigh Washington scores.
Coach Hambly addresses the team.
Stark comes in to serve.
Outside Hitter Katie Rustio engages the crowd.
Illinois vs. Ohio State: October 10th, 2015
(20-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-27)
Outside Hitter Jocelyn Birks goes for the point. Birks led the night with 18 kills for the Illini.
Ohio State Setter Taylor Hughes serves.
Defensive Specialist Danielle Davis.
Libero Brandi Donnelly led Illinois with 16 digs.
Coach Hambly discusses strategy with his staff.
Ohio State's Hughes with the set.
Defensive Specialist Julia Conard serves. Conard ended the evening with 16 digs.
Setter Jordyn Poulter serves. Poulter had 46 assists on the evening.
Assistant Coach Hillary Tennant and Director of Volleyball Operations Johannah Bangert.
Middle Blocker Maddie Mayers.