- Wisconsin def. Illinois 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 26-24)
- Great Lakes Center, Aurora, Illinois
- Spring Volleyball (Unofficial Results)
The Wisconsin Badgers and Illinois Illini, two Big Ten opponents in a state of flux, opened their 2017 spring seasons on neutral ground in suburban Chicago on Saturday. There, the Wisconsin Badgers defeated Illinois 3-0, with the last two sets each requiring extra points.
“I thought they all did well,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “They all have things they have to get better at but none of them played small. They were having fun, they were connecting with their teammates. I thought they all had some great moments. They all have some great futures ahead of them.”
The game marked the debut of 3 Wisconsin freshmen, including the highly-anticipated inauguration of Sydney Hilley’s career as a Badger. The 5’11” setter started and had over 40 assists to go with 7 digs, 2 blocks, and an ace. She replaces All-American and setting superstar Lauren Carlini, who exhausted her eligibility at the end of last season. Wisconsin lost their starting and backup setters after Jordan Robbins retired due to recurring injuries.
Dana Rettke and Mariah Whalen both also made their Wisconsin debut. Retke, who started at middle-blocker, had 13 kills and 2 blocks. Whalen started at outside hitter with 6 kills and 1 block.
“I thought Syd did a pretty good job,” added Sheffield. “Watching video with her after today’s match is going to be really good. You play a good opponent, you’re going to learn some things. We are certainly going to be able to learn some things.”
The Illini, meanwhile, played their first game under new head coach Chris Tamas. They’ve had 7 weeks to practice under the new staff, which took over when Kevin Hambly left to take over at Stanford – the defending NCAA Champions.
Illinois finished their 2016 season with a 17-14 record and 10-10 record in the Big Ten. They return 9 letterwinners from last season’s team. Wisconsin ended the season ranked 5th in the AVCA coaches’ poll, carrying a 18-5 record to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
Wisconsin will next play Creighton on April 9th in Mount Vernon, Iowa, while Illinois place regional rivals Southern Illinois in Carbondale on April 8th.
Video highlights are below:
It's time for our weekly highlights from our match with Illinois at the GLC! Check out some big @BadgerVB kills! #dailyimprovements pic.twitter.com/o9j5nAPv2e
— Gary White (@GaryScottWhite) April 2, 2017