Illinois Makes Tourny Case With Defeat of #24 Ohio State on Senior Day

  0 Braden Keith | November 20th, 2016 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Match Stats

  • Illinois def. #24 Ohio State 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21)
  • Illinois moves to 16-13 (9-9 Big Ten); Ohio State falls to 18-12 (8-10 Big Ten)
  • Huff Hall, Champaign, Illinois
  • Attendance: 2,694

It was senior night in Champaign for the Illinois women’s volleyball team, where they honored a huge class that included 8 seniors (7 players and 1 manager) who participated in their final career home match.

The game was even bigger than that, though; with a win, Illinois might have sealed its entry into the NCAA tournament. Their presence in December seemed certain early in the season, but a recent run of 7-straight losses put that in doubt. They snapped that streak on Friday with a win against Maryland, and a win against #24 Ohio State on Saturday pull them back to .500 (9-9) in the conference. With a winnable game against the conference’s worst team Rutgers next Friday, and then a big match against another top 25 team from Penn State, left, Illinois should finish winning at least 50% of their conference games. In the Big Ten, that should be enough for a tournament invite.

Senior Michelle Strizak recorded her 6th career double-double for the home team, recording 17 kills, 10 digs, and 5 blocks in the four-setter.

She and fellow senior Naya Crittenden scored the last two points to break a 23-23 tie late in the first set to show that the seniors were focused in spite of the emotion on the night.

Ohio State’s senior and top player Taylor Sandbothe didn’t come up as big for the Buckeyes as the Illinois seniors did for them. While she did pick up 15 kills, she also had 11 errors and hit just .114 on the game. She did still chip in 3 blocks, which is where she’s been so good all year, though that’s below her season average.

Press Releases

Courtesy Illinois Athletics:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Illinois volleyball team sent its 2016 seniors off in style as the Illini earned a 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21) win over No. 24 Ohio State in the home season finale on Saturday (Nov. 19) in Huff Hall.

With back-to-back wins on the weekend, the Illini improve to 16-13 and 9-9 in the Big Ten Conference, while the Buckeyes fall to 18-12 and 8-10 in the league.

The Illini dominated play at the net to outblock OSU, 15 to eight, with sophomore Ali Bastianelli leading the way with 12 stuffs on the night. Classmate Jordyn Poulter added eight blocks to go along with 37 assists and senior Michelle Strizak registered her sixth career double-double with a match-high 17 kills, 10 digs and five blocks.

It was a quick 4-1 start for the Buckeyes in the opening set, but a 7-0 run put the Illini 8-4 early on. OSU came back to knot the score at 13-13 as the set went back-and-forth for the remainder of the stanza, with neither team backing down. With the game tied at 23-23, Strizak and fellow senior Naya Crittenden put the Illini up for good with back-to-back kills and a 25-23 set win.

The Illini continued its momentum into the second period with a 6-1 start capped by back-to-back blocks. UI continued to lead throughout, but the Buckeyes closed to within one at 16-15 with four-straight scores. The Illini responded with an 8-2 run for a 24-17 lead, before an OSU service error propelled the Orange and Blue to a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

After a fast OSU opening of the third as five-unanswered points turned into a 12-6 edge. Trailing by four at 16-12, the Illini used a 6-2 run to even things at 18-18, but another 7-2 run – this time in favor of the visitors – gave OSU a 25-20 set three win.

It was all Illini to begin in the fourth as a 6-2 start turned into a 15-11 advantage following a Poulter setter dump, but the Buckeyes then notched the next six of seven points to storm back for a 17-16 lead. From there, the Illini responded by retaking the lead at 21-18 with a 5-1 run that was finished off by a block from Striak and Bastianelli. Back-to-back Buckeye points cut the deficit to one, but a OSU service error combined with a Strizak kill put UI up 23-20, before a Strizak kill followed by block from Poulter and Bastianelli sealed the four-set victory.

As a team, the Illini posted a .224 hitting percentage in the win and hit above a .220 clip in three of the four sets, while holding the Buckeyes to a .160 team hitting percentage.

Defensively, junior Brandi Donnelly turned in her 26th career match with 20 digs or more with 21 against the Buckeyes, while senior Danielle Davis contributed 12 digs and freshman Caroline Welsh added 10.

Following the conclusion of the match, the Illini honored its eight seniors, including Naya Crittenden, Danielle Davis, McKenna Kelsay, Allison Palmer, Katie Roustio, Katie Stadick, Michelle Strizak and manager Maddie Siambekos for there dedication and contributions to the Fighting Illini volleyball program.

The Illini now turns their attention to the final regular season weekend of play as they head east to face Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., on Friday (Nov. 25), before traveling to University Park, Pa., to take on No. 15 Penn State on Saturday (Nov. 26). Both matches are set for a 6 p.m. CT start.

Courtesy Ohio State Athletics:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The No.24 Ohio State women’s volleyball team lost in four sets to Illinois (23-25, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25) on Saturday night (Nov. 19). The Buckeyes battled tough and hard all night against the Fighting Illini, but came up short in the end. Ohio State falls to 18-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. Illinois improves to 16-13 overall and 9-9 in conference play.

Taylor Hughes led the Buckeyes on the night with 12 kills and 38 assists while attacking .333. Taylor Sandbothe contributed 15 kills, Audra Appold tallied 16 digs for the Scarlet and Gray and Valeria Leon added 15 digs. Five other Buckeyes had at least one or more kills. Eight different OSU players recorded a dig.

SET 1: The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 4-1 lead over the Illini. Illinois responded by winning the next seven points, however, to take an 8-4 advantage. Ohio State battled back to an 18-15 lead late in the set before the Fighting Illini made their final push to tie the set at 23 apiece and went on take the set 25-23.

SET 2: Illinois started off fast to take a 6-1 lead over the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes pulled within two points at the 17-15 mark, but the Fighting Illini finished strong and won the set 25-18.

SET 3: Ohio State started the set off strong taking a 12-6 advantage. Illinois countered and sliced its deficit to a lone tally at 17-16 The up-and-down set ultimately went to the Buckeyes though, seizing a 25-20 triumph.

SET 4: The Scarlet and Gray fell behind early in the set, 6-2, and the Fighting Illini extended their lead in the set 13-8. OSU then came flying back to take a 17-16 lead. Illinois won the next three points in a row to regain its edge at 19-17 en route to a 25-21 clincher.

The Buckeyes will conclude the regular season with a pair of home matches next weekend (Nov. 25-26).


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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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