Illinois Ready For Final Home Matches Of The Season

  0 Carly DeMarque | November 18th, 2016 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

Maryland & Ohio State
Match 28:
Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 | 7 p.m. CT | Champaign, Ill. | Huff Hall
Video: | Audio: | Livestats
Match 29:
No. 24 Ohio State
Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 | 7 p.m. CT | Champaign, Ill. | Huff Hall
Video: | Radio: WDWS 1400 | Livestats
Full Match Notes Illinois | Maryland | Ohio State | Big Ten
Statistics Illinois (14-13) | Maryland (11-17) | Ohio State (17-11)
Series History Maryland: Illinois leads 4-0 | Last: Illinois won, 3-2, on Oct. 2, 2016 | Streak: W4 | Results
Ohio State: Illinois trails 39-41 | Last: Ohio State won, 3-1, on Nov. 11, 2015 | Streak: L2 | Result
Tickets BUY NOW | Saturday: Free Admission with a ticket stub from Illinois football vs. Iowa (Complimentary admission to volleyball only available while tickets remain.)
Social Media @IlliniVball Twitter Icon | #Illini Twitter icon | Facebook Facebook icon | @IlliniVBall  | YouTube YouTube icon


The Fighting Illini volleyball team will wrap up its 2016 home schedule this weekend, hosting Maryland on Friday (Nov. 18) and No. 24 Ohio State on Saturday (Nov. 19). Both matches are slated for a 7 p.m. CT start and will be streamed on

The Illini own a perfect record against the Terrapins, having won all four matches the two teams have played – including earning a fifth-set win earlier this season in College Park, Maryland on Oct. 2. Senior Michelle Strizak led the Illini with a season-high 20 kills, while freshman Jacqueline Quade added a career-high 18 kills in the win.

Illinois trails in the all-time series with the Buckeyes, 39-41 and have dropped back-to-back matches – both coming in 2015. In the two team’s previous meeting on Nov. 11 in Columbus, former Illini Jocelynn Birks led the Illini attack with 16 kills, with senior Katie Stadick notching 10 kills on 32 swings for a .241 hitting percentage to go along with a team-high seven block assists. Ohio native Strizak added 10 kills in her homecoming.


On Saturday night, the seven-member Illini senior class will play its final match at Huff Hall. Following the conclusion of the match, Illini coaches, staff, family and fans will honor Naya CrittendenDanielle DavisMcKenna KelsayAllison PalmerKatie RoustioKatie Stadick and Michell Strizak, as well as senior manager Maddie Siambekos.

During their time in the Orange and Blue, the 2016 senior class has been a part of 79 wins – including 45 coming in Big Ten Conference play – and have made three-straight NCAA Regional appearances.


In the first two of the final four home matches of the season, the Illinois volleyball hosted two of the top teams in the nation last weekend, dropping three-set matches against No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday and No. 2 Minnesota on Saturday night.

Junior Brandi Donnelly collected a match-high 18 digs and senior Katie Stadick registered a .462 hitting percentage with a team-high six kills on 13 swings and no errors against the Badgers.

Against the Gophers, senior Michelle Strizak and freshman Jacqueline Quade each posted a match-high 15 kills and junior Brandi Donnelly came within one dig of her career-high with 25 digs. Senior Danielle Davis registered her fifth-double-digit dig outing of the season with 11, while Strizak added eight digs 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 13th in blocks per set with a 2.83 average. The Illini sit 23rd in the nation with 277 total blocks. The Illini also rank 68th in the NCAA with a .243 hitting percentage.


Sophomore Ali Bastianelli has quickly become one of the premier blockers in the NCAA and continues to lead the nation with 1.72 blocks per set and is second in the country with 169 total blocks on the season, just one block 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 97 total blocks and a 1.67 blocks per set average.


Sophomore Jordyn Poulter has orchestrated the Illini offense to a .243 hitting percentage, while also ranking sixth in the conference and 53rd in the NCAA with a 10.59 assists per set average and is also tied for fourth in the league and 69th in the nation with 1,038 total assists on the season.

In Big Ten action, Poulter sits sixth with a 10.90 assists per set mark.


Junior libero Brandi Donnelly paces the Illini defense and the conference in both overall and league play with 4.47 digs per set in all matches and a 4.69 average in Big Ten contests.

She leads the conference with 438 total digs in overall action and 272 digs in Big Ten play.

Nationally, Donnelly ranks 98th in digs per set and is 124th in total digs.


As a team, the Illini sit second in the Big Ten in blocks per set in league play with a 2.71 blocks per set average and are third in overall action with a 2.83 average.

UI also ranks sixth in opponent hitting percentage (.192) in overall play and is third in conference action (.198). In Big Ten action, the Illini rank fifth with 13.72 digs per set.

Individually, senior Michelle Strizak also ranks ninth with 3.05 kills per set in Big Ten action.


Heading into this weekend’s matches against Maryland and Ohio State, 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 99-57 mark in the Big Ten Conference and is 175-85 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 1,543 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 101-29 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 2,611 and is 11th in total attendance (28,721) in 2016. Seven of the top 10 teams in average attendance are members of the Big Ten, with Nebraska leading the nation at 8,225.


The Fighting Illini volleyball team consistently plays a demanding schedule year in and year out, with UI playing the most challenging schedule of any team in the NCAA in 2013, followed by the 12th-most difficult slate in 2014, including playing eight matches against teams that finished the season ranked in the top eight.

Last season was no different as the Illini played the 21st-most difficult schedule in the nation, with 10 of the final top 25 teams on its schedule, including six NCAA Regional teams, two Final Four squads and twice against 2015 National Champion, Nebraska.

The Illini continues that streak in 2016, with the Orange & Blue taking on nine teams that appear in this week’s AVCA Top 25 poll – including six in the top 15 – in No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 12 Stanford, No. 13 Michigan State, No. 15 Penn State, No. 18 Michigan, No. 19 Oregon and No. 24 Ohio State. Additionally, Illinois has faced two teams that are receiving votes in Purdue and Missouri State.

Between past and future opposition, Illinois holds the 38th-toughest schedule in the NCAA and the 46th-toughest schedule according to past opponents.


On Sept. 28, the Illini held their third-straight IlliNOISE Night, where the UI Marketing and Promotions staff took a decibel meter reading during the match to try and top the previous marks set in 2014 (105 dB) and 2015 (107 dB). With the help of the over 2,900 fans including the Marching Illini, Illinois was able to set a new record with a meter reading of 112 dB in between the first and second sets.


The Fighting Illini volleyball team earned its first tournament title of the season after sweeping its way to the 2016 Billiken Invitational championship over the weekend. The Illini made quick work of all three wins, defeating both Omaha (25-16, 25-9, 25-17) and Murray State (25-20, 25-13, 25-11) in less than 70 minutes each and the host Saint Louis (25-22, 25-14, 25-21) in just over an hour and a half.

Junior Brandi Donnelly was named the tournament MVP after totaling a team-high 37 digs and provided a strong passing game to propel the Illini offense throughout the weekend, with sophomore Ali Bastianelli (18 blocks, 17 kills, .484 hitting percentage) and freshman Caroline Welsh (12 digs) also earning all-tournament honors, with the Illini honorees chosen by their teammates.

Freshman Jacqueline Quade led the Illini with 33 kills and owned a .400 hitting percentage through three matches, while senior Naya Crittenden added 25 kills and a .500 hitting percentage as well as eight blocks.

Sophomore Jordyn Poulter totaled 102 assists in the three matches, while quarterbacking the Illini offense to a .407 hitting percentage on the weekend – with the Illini twice registering hitting percentages over .450 – the two highest hitting percentages of the season, a .483 mark against Murray State and a.458 clip against Omaha. Individually, she also posted eight kills and a .462 hitting percentage as well as ranking second on the team with 15 digs, nine blocks and four service aces.


After a slow start to the Nike Invitational that saw the Illini fall in three set to host Oregon, Illinois responded with back-to-back straight-set victories over Belmont and Saint Mary’s on Sept. 9-10. The Illini defeated Belmont, 25-9, 25-16, 25-23, with freshman Jacqueline Quade leading with nine kills and sophomore Ali Bastianelli registering nine blocks.

In the tournament finale, senior Katie Stadick led the Illini to a 25-11, 25-18, 25-18 win over Saint Mary’s with 11 kills on 15 swings and only one error for a team-high .667 hitting percentage and six blocks. Bastianelli added seven blocks in the win.

For their efforts, Quade and sophomore Jordyn Poulter were named to the Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team. Quade totaled a team-high 26 kills and 31 points in the three matches, to go along with 11 digs, eight blocks and a .298 hitting percentage.  For her part, Poulter masterminded an Illini offense that hit at a .216 clip – including two matches over .300 – as well as turning in 13 digs, 12 blocks and 10 kills on a .643 hitting percentage.


Sophomore middle blocker Ali Bastianelli set a program record with 14 block assists against No. 9 Stanford on Sept. 3. The previous mark of 13 block assists was achieved on four occasions, twice by Johannah Bangert and once each by Anna Dorn and Kellie Hebeisen.


Sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter turned in a career performance against Colorado in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge with a career-high nine kills on 13 swings and no errors for a .692 hitting percentage to go along with 45 assists, seven digs and four block assists.


For the third-straight season, the Fighting Illini earned the Illini Classic title after finishing the opening weekend with a 2-1 record. Illinois posted wins over Arkansas (25-19, 25-13, 25-22) and Xavier (21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21), before falling to Missouri State in five sets (22-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-15, 10-15). With three teams tied with a 2-1 record, the Illini earned the title on a set-win percentage tiebreaker.

Senior middle blocker Katie Stadick was named Most Valuable Player after registering 33 kills on 60 swings for a .433 hitting percentage and 14 blocks in the three matches. Sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter and senior opposite hitter Naya Crittenden joined her on the all-tournament team. Poulter averaged 11.17 assists per set after totaling 134 on the weekend, while also turning in nine kills and a .350 hitting percentage, 17 digs and nine blocks. Crittenden posted 25 kills and a .267 hitting percentage, including a career-high 15 kills against MSU, as well as nine blocks and three digs.


The Illini had a number of players hit career-highs in the season-opening Illini Classic. Senior Michelle Strizak posted her first career double-double with 14 kills and a career-high 10 digs to go along with a career-high two assists against Xavier, while classmate Naya Crittenden turned in a career-high 15 kills against the Bears later that night.


When the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) released its preseason poll on August 10, the Fighting Illini volleyball team once again made an appearance, coming in at No. 14 in the season’s opening top-25 poll.

Illinois returned 10 letterwinners, including a majority of its starters from its 2015 NCAA Sweet 16 team, including Big Ten All-Freshman Team honorees Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli, as well as junior libero Brandi Donnelly and hard-hitting seniors Katie Stadick,Michelle Strizak and Naya Crittenden. The Illini will also welcome in the No. 22-ranked recruiting class, including a pair of Top 100 Senior Aces in Kaylin Korte and Jacqueline Quade, as well as NC State transfer Blayke Hranicka.

Illinois’ highest opening rank came on Sept. 6, 1988, when the AVCA placed the Illini at No. 2 on the first week of the season following their first-ever trip to the NCAA Semifinals.

Illinois appeared in the top 25 of the AVCA’s first poll every season from 1986 to 1994, resurfaced at No. 14 in 1999 then at No. 19 in 2002 and 2004. The Illini have been ranked in the preseason top 25 in all-but-one season under Hambly, while receiving votes in 2013, with five top-10 projections in his eight seasons. The 2016 preseason ranking marks the Illini’s 19th year beginning the schedule in the top 25.


The 2016 Illinois volleyball recruiting class garnered a top-25 ranking, coming in as the No. 22 recruiting class in the nation as rated

The ranking continues the Illini recruiting success, with the 2016 class including a pair of Top 100 Senior Aces in outside hitters Kaylin Korte (No. 35) and Jacqueline Quade (No. 86), as well as defensive specialists Annika Gereau and Caroline Welsh and defensive specialist/setter Kendal Kavanaugh. Korte and Quade were both also named to Volleyball Magazine’s Fab 50 list, featuring the top seniors in the class of 2016.

Quade made a splash in her Illini debut on Aug. 26-27, registering double figure kills in all three matches at the Illini Classic, as well as securing her first career double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs against Missouri State on Saturday night. Gereau also made appearances in all three matches, recording three digs, while Welsh delivered a service ace in her first attempt to go along with four digs.

Korte came off the bench at Oregon on Sept. 9 to make her first appearance in an Illini jersey, recording two kills in the outing.

While not a part of the 2016 signing class, redshirt-freshman Beth Prince also made her Illini debut during the Illini Classic after being sidelined with an injury in 2015.


It is an entirely new staff that joins head coach Kevin Hambly on the sidelines this season as assistant coaches Jason Mansfield and Erin Lindsey, director of volleyball operations Jenni Bolduc and volunteer assistant coach Austin D’Amore were hired on during the offseason. Along with the new coaching staff, Misao Tanioka joins the team as the Illini’s athletic trainer.


The Illini have had tremendous success on opening night, going 33-10 all time in the first match of the season. Illinois has lost just one season opener since 1999, starting the new millennium with a 12-match winning streak from 2000-2011, before dropping the 2012 lid-lifter at Dayton. Illinois swept Arkansas at the Illini Classic to open the 2016 campaign.

Illinois is even more successful in home openers, going 37-6 all time in the first home match of the year. The Illini have not lost a home opener in over two decades; after falling to No. 18 New Mexico on Sept. 9, 1994, the Orange and Blue have won their last 21 straight home openers. Since making the move to Huff Hall in 1990, Illinois is 26-1 in the first home match of the season.


Illinois sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter was named Preseason All-Big Ten, as voted on by the Big Ten coaches. It was the first preseason honor of her career. Poulter made an immediate impact for the Illini in her freshman season, starting 29 of 32 matches at the setter position and earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors. She directed the Illini offense with 1,088 assists and recorded eight double-doubles on the season, highlighted by career highs of 59 assists and 21 digs vs. No. 4 Minnesota and a 34-assist, 10-dig performance in an NCAA Tournament first-round victory over Southern Illinois.

Poulter was also named to the B1G/Pac-12 All-Tournament Team and was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Setter of the Week selection. Following her breakout rookie campaign, she was selected as the Fighting Illini Newcomer of the Year.


Under the leadership of head coach Kevin Hambly, the Illinois volleyball program has seen a run of success in postseason play as the Illini have advanced to an NCAA Regional every season with the exception of one in his previous seven seasons at the helm. The Illini have advanced to the NCAA Regionals in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and also made  run to the National Championship match in 2011.


Illinois has 28 All-America honors among 17 players in school history. Nine of those players earned 16 honors with Kevin Hambly on staff. Three of the five First-Team All-Americans have come under Hambly (Laura DeBruler, Colleen Ward, Michelle Bartsch), while recent graduate Jocelynn Birks was a three-time All-American, finishing her 2015 senior campaign as an Honorable Mention selection, to go along with a 2013 Third Team honor with a Second Team award in 2014.

 News courtesy of Illinois Athletics.

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About Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque has been involved with competitive volleyball for the majority of her life, playing competitively at the club and collegiate level for 15 years and coaching club for five. Now a retired Division I volleyball athlete out of McNeese State University, she continues her volleyball enthusiasm by stepping back into …

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