Illini Volleyball Host No. 1 Nebraska on IlliNOISE Night

  0 volleymob | September 27th, 2016 | College - Women's Indoor, News

Nebraska & Maryland
Match 14:
No. 1 Nebraska
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 | 7:30 p.m. CT | Champaign, Ill. | Huff Hall
TV: BTN // Online: BTN Plus | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Mandarin Chinese Audio | Livestats
Match 15:
at Maryland
Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 | 12 p.m. CT | College Park, Md. | XFINITY Center
Video: BTN Plus | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Livestats
Full Match Notes Illinois | Nebraska
Statistics Illinois (9-4) | Nebraska (11-0) | Maryland (8-6)
Series History Nebraska: Nebraska leads 21-7-1 | Last: Nebraska won, 3-0, on Nov. 25, 2015 | Streak: L2 | Results
Maryland: Illinois leads 3-0 | Last: Illinois won, 3-0, on Sept. 25, 2015 | Streak: W3 | Results
Tickets Nebraska: Family Four Pack // Info | Maryland
Social Media @IlliniVball Twitter Icon | #Illini Twitter icon | Facebook Facebook icon | @IlliniVBall  | YouTube YouTube icon


The Fighting Illini volleyball team continues Big Ten Conference play this week, hosting No. 1 Nebraska on Wednesday at Huff Hall, before heading to College Park, Md., to take on Maryland on Sunday.

The Illini trail in the all-time series with the Huskers, 21-7-1, with the lone tie (1-1) between the two teams coming in the first-ever meeting on Oct. 1, 1977 in Madison, Wisc. Nebraska took both meetings in straight-sets a season ago, including a 3-0 setback on Oct. 17, 2015 in Champaign and a 3-0 loss on Nov. 25, 2015 in Lincoln.

It is a different story against the Terrapins as the Illini are 3-0 all-time against Maryland. Illinois won the only meeting in 2015, a 3-0 victory in College Park on Sept. 25. Prior to that, the Illini posted straight-set wins on Sept. 26, 2014 as well as Sept. 18, 1993 in their first-ever meeting.


On Wednesday, the Illini will be holding their third-straight IlliNOISE Night on Wednesday, where the UI Marketing and Promotions staff will take a decibel meter reading during the match to try and top the previous marks set in 2014 (105 dB) and 2015 (107 dB).

The Illini will attempt to break the noise record during the break between the first and second sets. Ear plugs will be available at the entrances of Huff Hall for those with sensitive hearing.


After opening the season with four losses in the first six matches, the Illini have responded to win the last seven matches, with all but one coming as straight-set victories. Since September 10, the Illini have posted wins in 21 of 23 sets.


The Fighting Illini started off the Big Ten Conference  season with a bang with a five-set victory over No. 10 Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., marking the first time since 2009 that Illinois  has defeated Purdue in West Lafayette.

It was also the first top-10 victory for the Illini since the 2014 season, when UI defeated then- No. 10 Nebraska in five sets on Nov. 26.


As a team, the Illini rank in the top 25 in the NCAA in total blocks and blocks per set, with UI coming in at 10th in blocks per set with a 3.00 average. The Illini sit 24th in the nation with 144 total blocks. The Illini also rank 30th in the NCAA with a .270 hitting percentage and 83rd in opponent hitting percentage with a .179 clip.


Sophomore Ali Bastianelli has quickly become one of the premier blockers in the NCAA and ranks second in the nation with 1.83 blocks per set and is third in the country with 88 total blocks on the season, just seven blocks off of national leader Danisha Moss of St. John’s.

Bastianelli is the co-leader in the Big Ten Conference in both blocks per set and total blocks in overall play, while also leading the league in conference matches as well with 2.00 blocks per set and 16 total blocks.


Freshman outside hitter Jacqueline earned her first Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week honor as well as the Illini’s first of the 2016 season when the league announced it on Monday (Sept. 26).

Quade totaled the second-most kills on the week for the Illini with 25 between the two matches, averaging 3.12 kills per set and posting a .246 hitting percentage, as well as four digs, three blocks and one assist.

Against the Boilermakers, Quade notched 13 kills on 33 swings and six errors for a .212 hitting percentage to go along with two blocks, two digs and an assist. She then added 12 kills on 24 attacks and five errors for a .292 hitting percentage, two blocks and a dig in the win over the Scarlet Knights.


The Fighting Illini volleyball team earned its first tournament title of the season after sweeping its way to the 2016 Billiken Invitational championship over the weekend. The Illini made quick work of all three wins, defeating both Omaha (25-16, 25-9, 25-17) and Murray State (25-20, 25-13, 25-11) in less than 70 minutes each and the host Saint Louis (25-22, 25-14, 25-21) in just over an hour and a half.

Junior Brandi Donnelly was named the tournament MVP after totaling a team-high 37 digs and provided a strong passing game to propel the Illini offense throughout the weekend, with sophomore Ali Bastianelli (18 blocks, 17 kills, .484 hitting percentage) and freshmanCaroline Welsh (12 digs) also earning all-tournament honors, with the Illini honorees chosen by their teammates.

Freshman Jacqueline Quade led the Illini with 33 kills and owned a .400 hitting percentage through three matches, while senior Naya Crittenden added 25 kills and a .500 hitting percentage as well as eight blocks.

Sophomore Jordyn Poulter totaled 102 assists in the three matches, while quarterbacking the Illini offense to a .407 hitting percentage on the weekend – with the Illini twice registering hitting percentages over .450 – the two highest hitting percentages of the season, a .483 mark against Murray State and a.458 clip against Omaha. Individually, she also posted eight kills and a .462 hitting percentage as well as ranking second on the team with 15 digs, nine blocks and four service aces.


After a slow start to the Nike Invitational that saw the Illini fall in three set to host Oregon, Illinois responded with back-to-back straight-set victories over Belmont and Saint Mary’s on Sept. 9-10. The Illini defeated Belmont, 25-9, 25-16, 25-23, with freshman Jacqueline Quade leading with nine kills and sophomore Ali Bastianelli registering nine blocks.

In the tournament finale, senior Katie Stadick led the Illini to a 25-11, 25-18, 25-18 win over Saint Mary’s with 11 kills on 15 swings and only one error for a team-high .667 hitting percentage and six blocks. Bastianelli added seven blocks in the win.

For their efforts, Quade and sophomore Jordyn Poulter were named to the Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team. Quade totaled a team-high 26 kills and 31 points in the three matches, to go along with 11 digs, eight blocks and a .298 hitting percentage.  For her part, Poulter masterminded an Illini offense that hit at a .216 clip – including two matches over .300 – as well as turning in 13 digs, 12 blocks and 10 kills on a .643 hitting percentage.


Sophomore middle blocker Ali Bastianelli set a program record with 14 block assists against No. 9 Stanford on Sept. 3. The previous mark of 13 block assists was achieved on four occasions, twice by Johannah Bangert and once each by Anna Dorn and Kellie Hebeisen.


Sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter turned in a career performance against Colorado in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge with a career-high nine kills on 13 swings and no errors for a .692 hitting percentage to go along with 45 assists, seven digs and four block assists.


The Fighting Illini have lost just two even-numbered set this season, holding a 16-2 mark in the second and fourth sets. The Illini dropped their first second set of the season against Oregon back on Sept. 9 and hold a 10-1 record in the second, while they dropped their first fourth set against Purdue on Sept. 21 and are 4-1 in the fourth.

The Illini own a 17-13 mark in odd-numbered sets, including a 7-6 record in the opener, a 9-4 mark in the third and a 1-3  record in the fifth after taking their first fifth set of the season against the Boilermakers.


For the third-straight season, the Fighting Illini earned the Illini Classic title after finishing the opening weekend with a 2-1 record. Illinois posted wins over Arkansas (25-19, 25-13, 25-22) and Xavier (21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21), before falling to Missouri State in five sets (22-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-15, 10-15). With three teams tied with a 2-1 record, the Illini earned the title on a set-win percentage tiebreaker.

Senior middle blocker Katie Stadick was named Most Valuable Player after registering 33 kills on 60 swings for a .433 hitting percentage and 14 blocks in the three matches. Sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter and senior opposite hitter Naya Crittenden joined her on the all-tournament team. Poulter averaged 11.17 assists per set after totaling 134 on the weekend, while also turning in nine kills and a .350 hitting percentage, 17 digs and nine blocks. Crittenden posted 25 kills and a .267 hitting percentage, including a career-high 15 kills against MSU, as well as nine blocks and three digs.


The Illini had a number of players hit career-highs in the season-opening Illini Classic. Senior Michelle Strizak posted her first career double-double with 14 kills and a career-high 10 digs to go along with a career-high two assists against Xavier, while classmate Naya Crittenden turned in a career-high 15 kills against the Bears later that night.


The Fighting Illini volleyball consistently plays a demanding schedule year in and year out, with UI playing the most challenging schedule of any team in the NCAA in 2013, followed by the 12th-most difficult slate in 2014, including playing eight matches against teams that finished the season ranked in the top eight.

Last season was no different as the Illini played the 21st-most difficult schedule in the nation, with 10 of the final top 25 teams on its schedule, including six NCAA Regional teams, two Final Four squads and twice against 2015 National Champion, Nebraska.

The Illini continues that streak in 2016, with the Orange & Blue taking on 11 teams that appear in this week’s AVCA Top 25 poll – including five in the top 15 – in No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 9 Stanford, No. 14 Purdue, No. 16 Penn State, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 20 Colorado, No. 21 Oregon and No. 22 Michigan.

Between past and future oppostition, Illinois holds the 20th-toughest schedule in the NCAA and owns the fourth-toughest schedule moving forward with future foes.


When the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) released its preseason poll on August 10, the Fighting Illini volleyball team once again made an appearance, coming in at No. 14 in the season’s opening top-25 poll.

Illinois returned 10 letterwinners, including a majority of its starters from its 2015 NCAA Sweet 16 team, including Big Ten All-Freshman Team honorees Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli, as well as junior libero Brandi Donnelly and hard-hitting seniors Katie Stadick,Michelle Strizak and Naya Crittenden. The Illini will also welcome in the No. 22-ranked recruiting class, including a pair of Top 100 Senior Aces in Kaylin Korte and Jacqueline Quade, as well as NC State transfer Blayke Hranicka.

Illinois’ highest opening rank came on Sept. 6, 1988, when the AVCA placed the Illini at No. 2 on the first week of the season following their first-ever trip to the NCAA Semifinals.

Illinois appeared in the top 25 of the AVCA’s first poll every season from 1986 to 1994, resurfaced at No. 14 in 1999 then at No. 19 in 2002 and 2004. The Illini have been ranked in the preseason top 25 in all-but-one season under Hambly, while receiving votes in 2013, with five top-10 projections in his eight seasons. The 2016 preseason ranking marks the Illini’s 19th year beginning the schedule in the top 25.


The 2016 Illinois volleyball recruiting class garnered a top-25 ranking, coming in as the No. 22 recruiting class in the nation as rated

The ranking continues the Illini recruiting success, with the 2016 class including a pair of Top 100 Senior Aces in outside hitters Kaylin Korte (No. 35) andJacqueline Quade (No. 86), as well as defensive specialists Annika Gereau and Caroline Welsh and defensive specialist/setter Kendal Kavanaugh. Korte and Quade were both also named to Volleyball Magazine’s Fab 50 list, featuring the top seniors in the class of 2016.

Quade made a splash in her Illini debut on Aug. 26-27, registering double figure kills in all three matches at the Illini Classic, as well as securing her first career double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs against Missouri State on Saturday night. Gereau also made appearances in all three matches, recording three digs, while Welsh delivered a service ace in her first attempt to go along with four digs.

Korte came off the bench at Oregon last Friday night to make her first appearance in an Illini jersey, recording two kills in the outing.

While not apart of the 2016 signing class, redshirt-freshman Beth Prince also made her Illini debut during the Illini Classic after being sidelined with an injury in 2015.


It is an entirely new staff that joins head coach Kevin Hambly on the sidelines this season as assistant coaches Jason Mansfield and Erin Lindsey, director of volleyball operationsJenni Bolduc and volunteer assistant coach Austin D’Amore were hired on during the offseason. Along with the new coaching staff, Misao Tanioka joins the team as the Illini’s athletic trainer.


Illinois sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter was named Preseason All-Big Ten, as voted on by the Big Ten coaches. It was the first preseason honor of her career. Poulter made an immediate impact for the Illini in her freshman season, starting 29 of 32 matches at the setter position and earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors. She directed the Illini offense with 1,088 assists and recorded eight double-doubles on the season, highlighted by career highs of 59 assists and 21 digs vs. No. 4 Minnesota and a 34-assist, 10-dig performance in an NCAA Tournament first-round victory over Southern Illinois.

Poulter was also named to the B1G/Pac-12 All-Tournament Team and was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Setter of the Week selection. Following her breakout rookie campaign, she was selected as the Fighting Illini Newcomer of the Year.


Under the leadership of head coach Kevin Hambly, the Illinois volleyball program has seen a run of success in postseason play as the Illini have advanced to an NCAA Regional every season with the exception of one in his previous seven seasons at the helm. The Illini have advanced to the NCAA Regionals in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and also made  run to the National Championship match in 2011.


Illinois has 28 All-America honors among 17 players in school history. Nine of those players earned 16 honors with Kevin Hambly on staff. Three of the five First-Team All-Americans have come under Hambly (Laura DeBruler, Colleen Ward, Michelle Bartsch), while recent graduate Jocelynn Birks was a three-time All-American, finishing her 2015 senior campaign as an Honorable Mention selection, to go along with a 2013 Third Team honor with a Second Team award in 2014.

Courtesy of Illinois Athletics.

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