Illinois Sweeps Omaha to Open Billiken Invitational

  0 Braden Keith | September 16th, 2016 | Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News

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Courtesy Illinois Athletics:

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Behind a balanced attack and a rowdy Illini contingent in the stands, the Fighting Illini volleyball dominated Omaha, 3-0 (25-16, 25-9, 25-17), for their third-straight straight-sets victory in the opening match of the Billiken Invitational on Friday(Sept. 16) in Chaifetz Palivion.

“I thought we competed hard the whole time,” said head coach Kevin Hambly. “I thought we showed them respect, but were playing hard the entire match. The first set I thought we were working our way into it. The second set I thought we really competed the way we wanted to compete and you know it is easy to let up on a team like this and just kind of relax and I thought we did the opposite. We just continued to focus on details and I thought we got better in this match.”

The Illini (5-4) registered its highest hitting percentage of the season with a .458 clip as seven players hit at least .333, including five Illini that hit at least .500 in the match. Freshman Jacqueline Quade led the team with 12 kills on 19 swings and no errors for a .632 hitting percentage, while senior Naya Crittendenposted a career-best .700 hitting percentage after eight kills on 10 swings and only one error.

The Illini were fast out of the gate in the opening set as sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter recorded the first of eight Illini service aces for the 5-2 edge. The Mavericks closed within three points on three occasions, before five-straight points pushed the score to 16-9 following a Quade kill that was set up on a diving dig from senior Danielle Davis. After a kill off the Omaha block from senior Michelle Strizak made it 20-13, the Illini cruised to the first set win.

The Illini held just a two-point early in the second at 6-4, but a 10-0 run fueled by the serve of senior Allison Palmer propelled the Orange & Blue to a 16-4 lead. Palmer, who served nine of the 10 points, including an ace to cap the run, equaled a career-high with three aces in the match. Leading 18-6, the Illini then put the set out-of-reach with five-straight points to take a 2-0 lead in the contest.

The second-set momentum continued into the third as the Illini rattled off six-straight points to start things, with five coming on the serve of junior Brandi Donnelly. Back-to-back Crittenden kills pushed the lead to 11-2, but the Mavericks continued to battled and cut the score to 16-11 with a 5-1 run. The Illini answered right back with back-to-back kills from sophomore Ali Bastianelli and redshirt-freshman Beth Prince for the 18-11 advantage. The two teams then traded points before a Maverick attack error sealed the three-set victory.

Poulter, who quarterbacked the Illini offense, turned in 31 assists in the win, while also contributing four kills, three digs and three blocks.

As a team, the Illini outblocked Omaha, 9-3, with Bastianelli pacing UI with six blocks.

Defensively, Donnelly helped the Illini to outdig the Mavericks, 38-19, with a team-high 17 on the night as the Illini defense held Omaha to just a .068 hitting percentage.

Illinois returns to action in the Billiken Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 17) against Murray State at 10 a.m. CT, before facing host Saint Louis in the tournament finale at 7 p.m.

Courtesy Omaha Athletics

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Omaha volleyball team opened the Billiken Invitational Friday afternoon, falling 3-0 (16-25, 9-25, 17-25) to Illinois at Chaifetz Pavilion. The Mavericks are now 2-10 on the season, while the Fighting Illini improve to 5-4.

Sophomore outside hitter Kayla Torson led Omaha in kills for the sixth time this season, finishing with 10 in addition to five digs.

Junior setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy put up 25 assists for the day, and freshman setter Hannah Angeli added six kills with two digs and a team-best two blocks. Junior middle blocker Amanda Conlin matched Angeli at the net, chipping in two more blocks as well as two kills.

Illinois was led by Jacqueline Quade’s 12 kills on .632 hitting with no attack errors, as well as a match-high six blocks from Ali Bastianelli. As a team, the Illini held the edge in hitting, .458 to .068, and blocking, 9.0-3.0.

In the first set, Quade hit .545 with six kills to pace Illinois, while Torson had five for Omaha. After an early 2-2 tie, the Illini never relinquished their lead, going up 14-9 before UNO called for a timeout. Illinois closed the set with back-to-back Quade kills, securing a 25-16 decision.

The Illini then hit .526 to win game two, 25-9, for a 2-0 match lead.

In the third set, Naya Crittenden was 5-for-5 on the attack with no errors, while Torson put up four and Angeli had three more for the Mavericks. Illinois worked out to a fast 6-0 lead, then extended its advantage to 15-6 before Omaha took another timeout. The Illini forced three Maverick errors to close the set, 25-17.

Omaha returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Billiken Invitational. The Mavericks face host Saint Louis at Noon, followed by Murray State at 4:30 p.m. Live stats and audio, as available, will be linked on

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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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