- Illinois def. Maryland 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 27-25)
- Illinois moves to 15-13 (8-9 Big Ten); Maryland falls to 11-18 (3-14 Big Ten)
- Huff Hall, Champaign, Illinois
- Attendance: 2199
On November 21st, the Illinois women were on fire, having won 5 of their last 6 Big Ten games, including a convincing 3-0 upset over then-#14 Michigan State, and were ranked 22nd in the country.
Since then, however, the team has gone ice cold, losing 7 consecutive games and winning just 5 out of 26 sets in that stretch.
With the NCAA tournament hopes fading, however, they were able to right their ship on Friday at home against Maryland with a 3-0 sweep at home to salvage hopes for an NCAA tournament bid.
With 3 games left on their schedule, the Illinois will expect a win against Rutgers, but probably still need to find a way past Ohio State or Penn State to ensure their season continues into December.
Illinois had good games from each of their 3 top scorers on Thursday, with Michelle Strizak (14 kills, .333 average), Katie Stadick (11 kills, .667 average), and Ali Bastianelli (9 kills, .438 average) all successful on at least one-third of their swings. Among those three, they’ve had good performances during the losing streak, but rarely all three at the same time. Their .315 team hitting percentage was the team’s 6th-highest this season.
That combined with 11 team blocks in the game (including 9 for Bastianelli) overmatched Maryland, who hit just .137 as a team and had just 3 team blocks.
Gia Milana led Maryland with a double-double on 12 kills and 11 digs. That’s her 9th double-double of the season.
Maryland made a late-game effort to take the third set away and extend the match. After Illinois ran the score to 21-13, Maryland fought back to go up 25-24. Kills by Strizak and Bastianelli, and then a block by Bastianelli and Jordyn Poulter sealed the night.
Illinois will play their last home game of the season on Saturday when they welcome in #24 Ohio State. The Illini graduate 7 players and a manager – Strizak, Stadick, Naya Crittenden, Danielle Davis, McKenna Kelsay, Allison Palmer, Katie Roustio and manager Maddie Siambekos.