#5 Illinois Leans on Defense in Road Win Over #7 Nebraska

  0 Derek Johnson | October 27th, 2018 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

#5 ILLINOIS DEF. #7 NEBRASKA 3-1 (27-29, 25-19, 27-25, 25-22)

For the first time since 2014, Illinois was able to take down Nebraska. Not only that, but the Fighting Illini were able to pull off the four-set victory on the road, earning a top-10 victory in Lincoln. It matches the season series as well, after Nebraska won in four in Champaign.

The Illinois block was critical in the match, as they notched 12 of them. That was actually the same as the Huskers, but beyond just earning a point advantage, it created an edge in attack errors too – whether coming physically or mentally. In total, Nebraska had 30 attack errors. Ali Bastianelli (5 blocks, 10 kills, .348) and Ashlyn Fleming (6 blocks, 9 kills, .364) were at the forefront of the block.

Additionally, Illinois had more kills (61-50), assists (57-46) and digs (104-99). As a team they hit .187, but most importantly held Nebraska to a .099 clip.

Taking a majority of the swings for the Illinois offense was Jacqueline Quade, who wound up with 23 kills on 82 attempts. She hit just .171, but it was more about carrying the load and opening things up for others. She also had 13 digs. Jordyn Poulter (49 assists, 18 digs) continued her All-American level play this year too, while Morgan O’Brien (32 digs) and Taylor Kuper (25 digs) were great in floor defense.

In the losing effort for Nebraska, Mikaela Foecke (17 kills, .145, 14 digs) and Lexi Sun (15 kills, .085, 20 digs, 2 aces) combined for high totals, but couldn’t terminate against that Illinois defense efficiently enough. Lauren Stivrins (9 kills, 5 blocks, .292) was solid out of the middle with Nicklin Hames (45 assists, 23 digs, 4 aces) and Kenzie Maloney (24 digs) posting strong numbers.

Outside of Stivrins though, no one hit above .150 – another testament to the Illinois defense.

The win is huge for Illinois and their chances of earning a top four seed to the NCAA Tournament. For Nebraska, it puts them in a very tough position in that regard, although with their fourth loss in five matches they’ll have other worries.

The final point from the match can be seen below via the Illinois volleyball twitter:

Next Up: The Fighting Illini will take on Ohio State and Maryland on the road next week on Friday and Sunday. Nebraska on the other hand looks to bounce back and will host Penn State and Rutgers on Friday and Saturday.

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