Press Release courtesy of Illinois Athletics
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ILLINOIS VS. THE FIELD
The Illinois volleyball team will wrap its three-match homestand on Saturday (November 4) night as the Illini welcome in Michigan in a Big Ten Network-broadcasted contest at 7:30 p.m. CT in Huff Hall.
The Illini own a 48-23 advantage in the all-time series with the Wolverines, but have dropped back-to-back contests with Michigan, including a 3-1 decision in the two teams’ only meeting a season ago.
LAST TIME OUT
Behind a career night from freshman Tyanna Omazic and the return of senior libero Brandi Donnelly, the Illinois volleyball team earned a season sweep of Northwestern with a straight-sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-15) win on Wednesday night in Huff Hall.
Omazic paced the Illini with a career-high 11 kills and only one error on 14 swings for a .714 hitting percentage as well as a team-high six blocks. Sophomore Jacqueline Quade added nine kills on a .304 hitting percentage and redshirt-sophomore Beth Prince notched eight kills on a .300 attack clip.
Junior Jordyn Poulter totaled 31 assists in directing the Illini to a .348 team hitting percentage in the win.
The Illini were dominate at the net with 12 total blocks – including nine in the third set – to the Wildcats’ three, with junior Ali Bastianelli turning in five and Poulter adding four.
In her return to the court following an October 6 injury, Donnelly led the Illini defense with 14 digs, with Poulter and sophomore Caroline Welsh each posting seven on the night.
ILLINI IN THE POLLS
In the most recent NCAA volleyball RPI, the Fighting Illini volleyball team held strong in the top 25 and sit at No. 25 in the newest rankings.
After debuting at No. 24 in the season’s first RPI on October 2, the Illini moved up to No. 22 the following week on October 9 and reached their season-high of No. 19 on October 16.
The Illini have also appeared in the receiving votes section of the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll for nine-straight weeks after entering the rankings on September 4.
ILLINI IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Illini continued their strong blocking game and rank ninth in the NCAA and first in the Big Ten in blocks per set at a 2.99 clip as well as 13th in hitting percentage (.284) and 20th in total blocks (251.5).
Individually, junior Ali Bastianelli ranks third in the nation with 1.72 blocks per set, seventh with 139 total blocks and is 22nd with a .400 hitting percentage.
OMAZIC COMING ON STRONG
Freshman Tyanna Omazic has started to come into her own as of late, starting the last three matches and is second on the team with 34 kills in the last four matches for a 2.27 kills per set average. In that span, the middle blocker has also led the Illini with a .382 hitting percentage and 22 total blocks for a 1.47 stuffs per set clip.
She most recently posted a career-high 11 kills on a .714 hitting percentage and a team-high six blocks in a win over Northwestern on Wednesday.
Prior to Wednesday’s match, Omazic totaled a then-career-high 10 kills in a five-set thriller at No. 5 Minnesota on October 25, while also equaling a career-high nine blocks on the night.
POULTER & QUADE DOUBLE UP
Together junior Jordyn Poulter and sophomore Jacqueline Quade own all nine of the Illini’s double-doubles this season, with the setter turning in seven and the outside hitter registering two on the season, with the duo each posting double-doubles against Missouri State (Sept. 16) and No. 5 Minnesota (Oct. 25).
In her three seasons in Champaign, Poulter has totaled 17 career double-doubles, while Quade has tallied three in her two years in the Orange and Blue.
Along with the double-doubles, Poulter has come close to notching the program’s 13th triple-double on multiple occasions, first coming within three blocks of the mark with 47 assists, 12 digs and seven blocks – all match-highs – in a win over Indiana on October 7.
She also turned in one of her best performances of the season against No. 7 Nebraska and was just two blocks shy with 52 assists, 14 digs and eight blocks in the match.
POULTER REACHES 3,000 ASSISTS
The quarterback of the Illini offense since she arrived on campus in 2015, junior Jordyn Poulter entered the top 10 in career assists earlier this season and with 52 helpers in a win over Iowa on October 20 became just the eighth player to reach 3,000 assists in program history.
She currently ranks eighth all-time with 3,201 helpers, with Betsy Eiserman (1999-02), who owns 3,578 assists and ranks in seventh place, next in Poulter’s path. Melissa Beitz (1996-99) ranks first in program history with 5,797 assists from 1996-99.
BLOCKIN’ BASTIANELLI IN THE RECORD BOOKS
In just three seasons, junior Ali Bastianelli has etched her named in the Illini record books and with eight blocks against No. 5 Minnesota on October 25, the Marysville, Mich., native became just the sixth player in program history to reach 500 career total blocks. She currently sits sixth with her 507 stuffs and is just 15 blocks to enter in a tie for fifth with Nancy Brookhart (1986-89), while player and director of operations Johannah Bangert owns the program record with 653 blocks from 2007-10.
Bastianelli has also entered the top 10 for career blocks assists this season and currently sits in third place with 464. Anna Dorn (2010-14) sits 66 block assists away in second place with 530, while Bangert also holds the career record for block assists at 613.
SUPER SENIOR BRANDI DONNELLY
In her time in the Orange and Blue, senior Brandi Donnelly has made a place for herself in the Illini record books. Donnelly currently sits third in career digs with 1,841, just 80 off of Ashley Edinger’s (2006-09) second place mark of 1,921. Jennifer Beltran (2010-13) holds the record with 2,220 digs in her four years.
One of the most durable Illini to ever suit up, Donnelly had started in all 115 matches the Illini had played in until being sidelined with an injury on October 6 against Purdue. She returned to action on Wednesday against Northwestern and led the Illini with 14 digs in her first match back at libero.
In her four years, Donnelly has seen action in 418 of 420 sets she has suited up for, missing only two sets during her freshman campaign.
ILLINI SET HITTING PERCENTAGE RECORD AGAINST WKU
The Illini set a new single-match hitting percentage school record en route to a sweep of No. 24 Western Kentucky on Saturday as part of the Cardinal Classic. Swinging .652 as a team, the Illini led by a .917 hitting percentage from junior Ali Bastianelli.
Topping the previous school record of .635 set back on September 1, 1992 at Northwestern, the Illini were hitting on all cylinders on Saturday morning, finishing each set with an attack percentage north of .600, with a first-set mark of .708, a second-set clip of .632 and a third-set .609 percentage. The best single-match team hitting percentage during the rally-scoring era, which began in 2001, was a .483 performance against Murray State at Huff Hall on September 17, 2016.
TAMAS NAMED EIGHTH VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACH
Following the departure of former head coach Kevin Hambly to Stanford in January, Director of Athletes Josh Whitman selected Chris Tamas as the new head coach of the Fighting Illini volleyball program on February 10, 2017. He is the eighth head coach in the history of the program.
Tamas came to Illinois following many years learning from some of the game’s great coaches, including John Cook at Nebraska and former U.S. National Team coaches Hugh McCutcheon and Ron Larsen. In all, Tamas is in his ninth year of collegiate coaching including two years at Nebraska, two years at Cal Poly, two years at Minnesota and two years at UC-Riverside.
Tamas is a 2003 graduate of the University of the Pacific with a degree in sports sciences. He was a four-year starter for the Tigers and a unanimous AVCA All-American first team selection and team MVP during his 2003 senior season. In four years with the U.S. Men’s National Team (1999, 2003, 2005-06), Tamas made 34 appearances, and, in 1999, helped the squad to a silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Havana. As national team captain in 2003, Tamas helped lead the United State to a bronze medal at the World University Games in Daegu, South Korea.
A training camp invitee for the U.S. squad that eventually captured the 2008 Olympic gold medal, Tamas also helped U.S. teams to silver at the 2005 World Grand Champions Cup in Japan and, as a setter, to a gold at the 2006 NORCECA Championships in Mexicali, Mexico.
As a professional, Tamas competed for six years overseas with clubs Protect Eye Orion (Netherlands), Antigos Alunos (Portugal), Real Grupo (Spain), Erdemir (Turkey), Dionysos (Cyprus) and Isku (Finland). In Finland and Cyprus, Tamas helped his clubs to national cup championships.