Illinois Opens Road Swing With Iowa Followed By Nebraska

  0 volleymob | October 19th, 2017 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Press Release courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Match 20:
at Iowa
Friday, October 20, 2017 | 7 p.m. CT | Carver-Hawkeye Arena | Iowa City, Iowa
Video: BTN Plus ($) | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Livestats
Match 21:
at No. 7 Nebraska
Saturday, October 21, 2017 | 7 p.m. CT | Devaney Center | Lincoln, Neb.
Video: BTN2Go | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Livestats
Full Match Notes Illinois | Iowa | Nebraska | Big Ten
Statistics Illinois | Iowa | Nebraska
Series History Iowa: Illinois leads, 59-14 | Last: Illinois lost, 2-3, on 10/29/2016 | Streak: Lost 1 | Results
Nebraska: Illinois trails, 7-23-1; Last Match: Illinois lost, 3-0, on 10/28/2016; Streak: Lost 4 | Results
Tickets Iowa | Nebraska
Social Media @IlliniVball Twitter Icon | #Illini Twitter icon | Facebook Facebook icon | @IlliniVBall  | YouTube YouTube icon


After a four-match homestand in the friendly confines of Huff Hall, the Illinois volleyball team next heads on the road for a three-match swing, starting with a trip to Iowa City, Iowa, to take on Iowa on Friday (October 20), before heading to Lincoln, Neb., to face No. 7 Nebraska on Saturday (October 21) night. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. CT.

The Illini lead the all-time series with the Hawkeyes, 59-14, but fell in the only meeting between the two teams a season ago in a five-set battle on October 29, 2016.

Illinois trails in the all-time series with the Huskers, 7-23-1, and fell in both meetings in 2016 – with both meetings coming with the Huskers ranked No. 1 in the nation.

This will be the first meeting between the Illini and Nebraska and the first trip to Lincoln since the hiring of first-year head coach Chris Tamas, who came to Illinois following a two-year stint  as an assistant coach with the Huskers.


In the most recent NCAA volleyball RPI, the Fighting Illini volleyball team moved into the top 20 and sit No. 19 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.

The Illini have also appeared in the receiving votes section of the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll for seven-straight weeks after entering the rankings on September 4.


Freshman Megan Cooney was named the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week after helping lead the Fighting Illini volleyball team to a pair of sweeps against Ohio State and Maryland over the weekend, the league announced on Monday (October 16).

It is the first career conference freshman of the week accolade for Cooney and the third weekly honor the Illini have received this season after junior Ali Bastianelli and senior Brandi Donnelly each garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades on August 28 and September 18, respectively.

Cooney averaged 3.17 kills per set after totaling 19 kills and only committing four errors on 54 swings for a .278 hitting percentage, while adding three digs, a block and an assist in the two wins.

The Topeka, Kansas, native opened the weekend with a team-high-tying 11 kills on 27 attacks and only two errors for a .333 hitting percentage to go along with a block against the Buckeyes on Friday, before posting eight kills on a .222 attack clip, three digs and an assist against the Terrapins on Saturday.


Junior setter Jordyn Poulter was a catalyst in leading the Fighting Illini volleyball team to a pair of straight-sets wins over Ohio State and Maryland this past weekend. Poulter totaled 74 assists for a 12.33 assists per set average and paced the offense to a .289 team hitting percentage, while also leading the Illini with 22 digs for a 3.67 digs per set average. The junior also added five blocks to rank second on that team, as well as four kills on a .500 hitting percentage.

On Friday, Poulter led the Illini offense to a .318 hitting percentage and posted 32 assists and a team-high eight digs on the night while setting up Ali Bastianelli and Megan Cooney for double-digit kills.

She put together another strong outing as she registered her fifth double-double of the season and 15th of her career with 42 assists and tied for the team lead with 14 digs, while also adding four kills on a .800 hitting percentage and three blocks in the Maryland match. Three Illini reached double figures in kills thanks in part to Poulter’s setting, led by redshirt-sophomore Beth Prince who paced the team with 14 on a .538 hitting percentage.


The Illini continued their strong blocking game and rank ninth in the NCAA in blocks per set at a 3.02 clip as well as 11th in hitting percentage (.298), 32nd in kills per set (14.00) and total blocks (193).

Individually, junior Ali Bastianelli paces the nation with 1.80 blocks per set, ranks fourth with a .448 hitting percentage and is 11th with 110 total blocks.

Junior Jordyn Poulter also ranks 26th with a 11.16 assists per set average and is 90th with 714 total helpers, while junior Blayke Hranicka also sits 51st with a .376 attack percentage.


The Fighting Illini volleyball consistently plays a demanding schedule year in and year out, and 2017 is no different as Illinois has played the 22nd-most difficult schedule this season.

This season, the Illini have taken on seven teams that appear in this week’s AVCA Top 25 poll – including six in the top 10 – in No. 1 Penn State, No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 17 Purdue, while also taking on four teams that are receiving votes in Western Kentucky, Missouri State, Michigan and Colorado.

The Illini own the toughest schedule in the NCAA moving forward with future foes, while between past and future opposition, Illinois holds the 11th-toughest schedule in the NCAA.


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 1,827, just 94 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. In her four years, Donnelly has seen action in 415 of 417 sets she has suited up for, missing only two sets during her freshman campaign.


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. Poulter currently ranks eighth with 2,992 helpers after passing former Illini Annie Luhrsen earlier this season and is eight assists away from  becoming just eighth player in Illini history to reach 3,000 career assists. Next up in Poulter’s path is Betsy Eiserman (1999-02), who owns 3,578 helpers and ranks in seventh place. Melissa Beitz (1996-99) ranks first in program history with 5,797 assists from 1996-99.


In just three seasons, junior Ali Bastianelli has etched her named in the Illini record books. After entering the top 10 for career block assists earlier this season, Bastianelli is currently sixth with 437 block assists. Erin Johnson (2009-12) sits just eight stuffs away in fifth place, while former player and director of operations Johannah Bangert owns the program record with 613 block assists from 2007-10.

Bastianelli has also entered the top 10 for total career blocks this season and currently sits in seventh place with 478 blocks. She needs 21 more to enter a tie for sixth with Denise Fracaro (1982-85) at 499. Bangert also holds the career record for total blocks at 653.


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.


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.

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