Press Release courtesy of Illinois Athletics
ILLINOIS VS. THE FIELD
Following a three-match road swing, the Illinois volleyball team returns to Huff Hall this weekend to open a three-match homestand, first hosting top-ranked Penn State on Saturday (October 28) night at 7 p.m. CT.
The Illini trail in the all-time series with the Nittany Lions, 10-44, and lost a 3-0 decision against then-No. 3 PSU earlier this season on September 29 in Rec Hall.
LAST TIME OUT
The Illinois volleyball team gave No. 5 Minnesota all it could handle, before falling in a five-set (25-22, 25-18, 25-18, 25-20, 11-15) heartbreaker on Wednesday night in Maturi Pavilion.
The Illini were paced by redshirt-freshman Beth Prince with a team-high 18 kills, with sophomore Jacqueline Quade posting her second double-double of the season with 13 kills and 12 digs. Freshman Tyanna Omazic had a career night with a career-high 10 kills and equaled a career-high with nine blocks.
Junior Jordyn Poulter notched her seventh double-double of the season and 17th of her carer with 49 assists and 12 digs, while freshman Morgan O’Brien registered a career-high 24 digs. Sophomore Annika Gereau joined the duo in double figure digs with 10 on the night.
As a team, the Illini outblocked the Gophers, 17 to six, with junior Ali Bastianelli posting eight blocks and freshman Megan Cooney recording six stuffs in the match.
ILLINI IN THE POLLS
In the most recent NCAA volleyball RPI, the Fighting Illini volleyball team held strong in the top 25 and sits at No. 23 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 eight-straight weeks after entering the rankings on September 4.
POULTER DOING IT ALL
Junior setter Jordyn Poulter has been a catalyst in leading the Fighting Illini this season and has upped her game since senior Brandi Donnelly went down with an injury on October 6.
In the last six matches, the Aurora, Colo., native has totaled 265 assists, 67 digs and 28 blocks to average 11.04 helpers, 2.79 digs and 1.17 stuffs per set – ranking second on the team in both digs and blocks.
In this span, Poulter has guided the Illini offense to a .264 hitting percentage and 13.88 kills pet set.
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 3.00 clip as well as 11th in hitting percentage (.286) and 18th in total blocks (234).
Individually, junior Ali Bastianelli paces the nation with 1.76 blocks per set, ranks fourth with 132 total blocks and is 10th with a .427 hitting percentage.
Junior Jordyn Poulter also ranks 31st with a 11.00 assists per set average and is 54th with 858 total helpers, while junior Blayke Hranicka also sits 47th with a .379 attack percentage.
ILLINI FACING OFF AGAINST TOP FOES IN 2017
The Fighting Illini volleyball consistently plays a demanding schedule year in and year out, and 2017 is no different as Illinois has played the 26th-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 Wisconsin, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 17 Purdue, while also taking on four teams that are receiving votes in Western Kentucky, Missouri State, Colorado and Michigan.
The Illini own the second-toughest schedule in the NCAA moving forward with future foes, while between past and future opposition, Illinois holds the 14th-toughest schedule in the NCAA.
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 1,827, 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.
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 Friday night became just the eighth player to reach 3,000 assists in program history.
She currently ranks eighth all-time with 3,136 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 Wednesday night, the Marysville, Mich., native became just the sixth player in program history to reach 500 career total blocks. She currently sits sixth with her 500 stuffs and is just 22 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 fourth place with 457. Kristin Henriksen (1990-93) sits just one block assist away in third place, while Bangert also holds the career record for block assists at 613.