Illini Welcome in Badgers, Gophers for Military Appreciation Weekend

  0 Braden Keith | November 11th, 2016 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Wisconsin & Minnesota
Match 26:
No. 3 Wisconsin
Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 | 7 p.m. CT | Champaign, Ill. | Huff Hall
Video: BTN Plus | Audio: | Livestats
Match 27:
No. 2 Minnesota
Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 | 7 p.m. CT | Champaign, Ill. | Huff Hall
Video: | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Mandarin Audio: | Livestats
Full Match Notes Illinois | Wisconsin | Minnesota | Big Ten
Statistics Illinois (14-11) | Wisconsin (20-3) | Minnesota (19-4)
Series History Wisconsin: Illinois leads 47-36-1 | Last: Wisconsin won, 3-1, on Oct. 8, 2016 | Streak: L5 | Results
Minnesota: Illinois leads 38-34-1 | Last: Minnesota won, 3-0, on Dec. 11, 2015 | Streak: L2 | Result
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The Fighting Illini volleyball team returns to Huff Hall to open its final four-match homestand of the season, first welcoming in No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday (Nov. 11) and No. 2 Minnesota on Saturday (Nov. 12). With Veterans Day on Friday, this weekend will be Military Appreciation Weekend for the Illini.

The Illini hold an edge against the Badgers and lead the all-time series 47-36-1, but have not won against UW since the 2013 season when the Illini came away with a 3-1 win on Oct. 27 in Madison. The Badgers took this season’s earlier meeting, 3-1 in Madison on Oct. 9 as senior Naya Crittenden led the way with a team-high 13 kills, while classmate Michelle Strizak turned in 12 kills. Sophomore Ali Bastianelli also reach double digits and equaled a career-high with 11 kills, while adding five blocks and a service ace.

Illinois also leads the all-time series with the Gophers, 38-34-1, but have lost two-straight in the series. The Illini dropped a hard-fought five-set match in Minneapolis in the regular season a year ago, before faltering in straight-sets to UM in a NCAA Regional meeting in Des Moines on Dec. 11 to end the 2015 campaign. Strizak led the Illini with 12 kills on 31 attacks and only one error for a .355 hitting percentage.


The Illinois volleyball wrapped up its four-match road trip with a tough swing through Michigan, falling to both No. 17 Michigan (3-1) and No. 16 Michigan State (3-0) over the weekend.

Seniors Michelle Strizak and Naya Crittenden each registered double-digit kills on Friday against the Wolverines, with Strizak leading the Illini with a match-high 17 kills on 40 swings and only five errors for a .300 hitting percentage to go along with nine digs and three blocks, while Crittenden added 13 kills on the night.

Sophomore Ali Bastianelli paced the Illini block with nine stuffs and added nine kills in the loss. Junior Brandi Donnelly totaled a team-high 18 digs, with senior McKenna Kelsay, who earned her first-career start as an Illini, smashing previous career-high with 10 digs on the night.

Bastianelli continued her strong play on Saturday night, pacing the Illini with eight kills on 15 swings and only three errors for a .333 hitting percentage to go along with seven blocks in the setback to the Spartans. Strizak added a team-high nine kills and three blocks, while sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter turned in 31 assists and four blocks on the night.


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 2.88 average. The Illini sit 21st in the nation with 265 total blocks. The Illini also rank 42nd in the NCAA with a .253 hitting percentage and are 107th in opponent hitting percentage after holding foes to a .187 mark through 25 matches.


Sophomore Ali Bastianelli has quickly become one of the premier blockers in the NCAA and continues to lead the nation with 1.77 blocks per set and is second in the country with 163 total blocks on the season, just five blocks off of national leader Mackenzie Rombach of Jacksonville State.

Bastianelli is the leader in the Big Ten Conference in both blocks per set and total blocks in overall play, while also pacing the league in conference matches as well with 91 total blocks and a 1.75 blocks per set average.


Along with her blocking prowess, Bastianelli ranks 11th in the Big Ten and is 97th in the NCAA with a .340 hitting percentage.

She is joined in the ranks by senior Katie Stadick, who sits 145th in the nation with a .321 hitting percentage.


Sophomore Jordyn Poulter has orchestrated the Illini offense to a .253 hitting percentage, while also ranking sixth in the conference and 47th in the NCAA with a 10.61 assists per set average and is also fourth in the league and 66th in the nation with 976 total assists on the season.

In Big Ten action, Poulter sits sixth with a 10.96 assists per set mark and is tied for sixth with 570 assists.


Junior libero Brandi Donnelly paces the Illini defense and the conference in both overall and league play with 4.29 digs per set in all matches and a 4.40 average in Big Ten contests.

She leads the conference with 229 digs in Big Ten play and is third with 395 total digs on the season.

Nationally, Donnelly ranks 115th in digs per set and is 149th in total digs.


As a team, the Illini sit second in the Big Ten in blocks per set in both overall and league play with a 2.88 and 2.79 blocks per set average, respectively. UI also ranks fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.187) in overall play and is second in conference action (.190). In Big Ten action, the Illini rank fifth with 13.27 digs per set.

Individually, senior Michelle Strizak ranks ninith with 3.00 kills per set in Big Ten action, while classmate Naya Crittenden joins her in the rankings and is 15th with 2.75 kills per set.


Heading into this weekend’s matches against Wisconsin and Minnesota, Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly is just one win away from 100 Big Ten wins and is sitting on 99 victories in his eight years at the helm of the Illinois volleyball program.

Hambly owns a 99-55 mark in the Big Ten Conference and is 175-83 overall in his time at Illinois.


Junior Brandi Donnelly has been a consistent defensive force  in her libero position for the Illini during her three seasons in the Orange and Blue and ranks third all-time with 1,500 career digs, trailing only Ashley Edinger (1,921) and Jennifer Beltran (2,220).


After leading the Illini to sweeps of then-No. 14 Michigan State and Northwestern, junior Brandi Donnelly and sophomore Jordyn Poulter were named the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player and Setter of the Week last Monday (Oct. 17).

It is the third such honor for Donnelly, who registered a 6.67 digs per set average with a team-high 40 digs on the week, while also helping the Illini to a .244 hitting percentage with her reception precision and passing. She posted a match-high 17 digs against the Spartans, before continuing that strong play into Saturday as she notched her fourth 20-dig match of the season and 24th of her career with 23 digs against Northwestern.

It is the second for Poulter, who guided the Illini offense and tallied a 13.00 assists per set average with 78 helpers in the two matches, while also adding 10 digs, nine blocks, three kills and a service ace. Poulter used a balance attack against the Spartans as five Illini had 17 swings or more on the night and posted 49 assists and four blocks in the win. She followed up that performance with 29 assists, six digs and five blocks in UI’s Saturday night win over NU.


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. on Sept. 21, 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.

The Illini added a 3-0 sweep of then-No. 14 Michigan State in Huff Hall on Oct. 12.


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 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 Illini are 101-27 in front of a home crowd since the start of 2008, with their 100th win coming in a sweep of Northwestern on Oct. 15. All-but-three of those losses came to teams in the top 25, including four to the No. 1 team in the country.

Illinois ranks seventh in the nation in average crowd size with an average of 2,622 and is 15th in total attendance (23,597) in 2016. Seven of the top 10 teams in average attendance are members of the Big Ten, with Nebraska leading the nation at 8,210.

Press release courtesy: Illinois Athletics

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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