Review: Illinois wrapped up a perfect non-conference season with a pair of wins at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge at Huff Hall. The Illini posted victories over Cincinnati (25-16, 25-14, 25-12) and Louisville (25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-9) to move to 11-0 on the season. That marks the second best start in school history behind only a 30-0 start to the 1985 season.
Michelle Bartsch was named MVP of the tournament after amassing 22 kills and 20 digs combined in the two victories. Bartsch had 10 kills while hitting .417 in the win over Cincinnati, paving the way for the Illini to hit a season-best .405 as a team. Against Louisville, freshman Liz McMahon was strong, making just one hitting error in 33 attacks, amassing 20 kills and seven blocks. For the weekend, McMahon hit .571 with 25 kills and 10 blocks. Junior All-American Colleen Ward had 19 kills and hit .311 vs. Louisville. Defensively, Illinois forced Cincinnati to hit -.061 for the match and Louisville to hit .000 in the deciding fifth set. Illinois out-blocked the Big East schools 21.5-11 on the weekend, paced by 11 blocks from junior Erin Johnson.
Illinois is one of just three undefeated teams in the Big Ten and one of just three unblemished marks nationally in the top 10. The Illini are second in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at.294.
Preview: Illinois will open up Big Ten Conference play on the road, as the squad heads to Minnesota on Friday, Sept. 23 for a match at 7 p.m. before playing Wisconsin on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m.
No. 23 Soccer (6-2-1, 0-0-1)
Review: The No. 23 nationally-ranked Illinois soccer team rallied from a two-goal deficit to force overtime and earn a tie with Big Ten foe Iowa (8-0-1, 0-0-1) on Sunday afternoon, a team that entered the contest with eight wins in as many games on the season. Senior defender Jenna Carosio and junior forward Shayla Mutz provided the goals for the Illini in succession, scoring just over a minute apart during the second half.
After falling behind by two marks entering the second half, Carosio and Mutz tallied goals in the span of 71 seconds to tie the contest at 2-2. Carosio used a pass from sophomore forward Megan Pawloski to chip a shot over Iowa's goalkeeper, Emily Moran, and cut the deficit to one goal in the 68th minute with her first tally of the season. Mutz converted with a header shot following a cross from sophomore midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo in the 69th minute, placing the ball out of the reach of Moran for her second strike of the season.
Preview: The Illini (6-2-1, 0-0-1) wrap up their program-record five game regular season road streak with a contest each at No. 25 Ohio State (5-3-1, 0-0-1) and No. 21 Penn State (6-3-0, 0-1-0). Illinois faces the Buckeyes on Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. CT before traveling to the Nittany Lions for a game on Sept. 25 at noon.
Women's Cross Country
Review: The Illinois women's cross country team came in second at the Orange and Blue Preview on Friday. In running just two races this season, sophomore Meghan Frigo led the Illini for the second time in her career and finished seventh overall, helping the Illini to 49 team points. Four of the nine runners recorded new 6K personal records.
Junior Madeline Aufmann recorded her second top 10 finish of the season by finishing second for the Orange and Blue and 10th overall, setting a new personal-best time of 21:48. Next, Britten Petrey (21:56) was the first freshman to cross the line and placed 11th overall and third for the Illini. Sophomore Katie Porada trimmed one minute and 25 seconds off her personal-best 6K time from the Bradley Classic last season and finished fourth for the team and 14th overall. Freshmen Colette Falsey (22:13) and Chloe Schmidt (22:30) followed near behind, finishing 15th and 16th. Junior Meagan Hynesalso recorded a new personal-best 6K time from a year ago, cutting 28 seconds off her previous mark. The Naperville, Ill., native crossed the finish line at 22:45 and rounded out the Illinois scoring, placing 20th overall.
Preview: The Illini are off until they travel to Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 1 to compete in the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, starting at 11:15 a.m. CT.
Men's Cross Country
Review: The Fighting Illini men's cross country team placed second overall this Friday in the Orange and Blue Preview at the UI Arboretum. The Illini faced Big Ten competition in Michigan and Wisconsin and finished runner-up with a team total of 42 points.
Senior Dan Kremske placed first for the Orange and Blue and second overall with an 8K time of 24:25. This race marked the third time in his career he paced the Illini. Following closely behind him was teammate Colin Mickow, finishing second for Illinois and third overall with a time of 24:29. The seniors Kremske and Mickow have now finished in the top two for the Illini a combined 12 times. Also finishing in the top six was senior Nathan Troester, crossing the finish line in a time of 24:42 and third for the Illini. Hunter Mickow finished fourth for the Orange and Blue, setting a new personal 8K record with a time of 25:11 while Phil Pompei (25:25) and Mark Donohue (26:10) took 17th and 19th overall.
Preview: The Illini have a few weeks off before they travel to Madison, Wis., to compete in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. CT.
Review: At the fall season opener, the Illinois women's golf team shattered the 54-hole school record by 15 strokes with a team total of 875 (+11) and tied for second with Colorado at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic. The Illini, who finished just two strokes behind team champion UC Davis (873) in the 19-team field, fired a second round mark of 287 (-1), which ranks second in school history, while they opened the tournament with a score of 292 (+4), tying the sixth-best round in program history. They also notched a final round of 296, giving the squad three rounds under 300 at a tournament for the first time in school history. The previous best score in program history came in 2006 at the Shootout at the Legends (890).
Four Illini golfers finished in the top 20, led by senior Hailey Koschmann (217), who placed fourth after shooting a 75 in the third round for a one-over par total score. One stroke behind Koschmann was sophomore Ember Schuldt (218), who had a final round 76 to finish at two-over par in a tie for fifth place. The Sterling, Ill., native earned a career-best finish with a career-low score by three strokes and led the field in par-5 scoring at four-under. Senior Samantha Sloan (220) totaled a four-over par and tied for 13th after posting a one-under par 71 in the final round, while senior Nora Lucas (221) ended the day with a final round 73 to finish in a tie for 15th at five-over par. Fellow senior Katelin Dilger (228) tied for 44th after shooting a final round 78.
Preview: Illinois will be back in action on Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Lexington, Ky., for the Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational.
No. 13 Men's Golf
Review: At the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational presented by Polo, the No. 13 Illinois men's golf team tied for eighth with Notre Dame in the loaded 15-team field following a 54-hole score of 883 (+43) with rounds of 289, 299 and 295. Junior Mason Jacobs and senior Luke Guthrie led the Illini individually, as the duo wrapped up the event one stroke apart and among the top 15. The Orange and Blue also finished eighth at the event last year before turning in one of the best seasons in school history.
Jacbos finished the tournament just how he started with an even-par 70 following a pair of birdies in the final round. The Metropolis, Ill., native gained eight spots on the leaderboard and tied for 11th with a 54-hole score of 216 (+6), a 13 shot improvement from his total at the season opener a week ago. Guthrie turned in a final round 74 and combined for a tournament total of 217 (+7),placing him in a tie for 15th overall. The Quincy, Ill., native came in second for the Illini again and shot two stokes better than last weekend.
Preview: Illinois will be off next weekend before returning to action in two weeks at the D.A. Weibring Invitational in Normal, Ill., from Oct. 1-2.
Review: The University of Illinois softball team was forced to indefinitely postpone a contest with Parkland on Sunday, Sept. 18, due to heavy rains in the Champaign-Urbana area.
Preview: Illinois (1-0) will host three home games at Eichelberger Field this weekend, with a game against Heartland on Friday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m., a showdown with the Alumni on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. and a contest versus Valparaiso on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 12 p.m.
Review: The Illini men's tennis team opened up its fall season, going 10-6 in singles play at the Olympia Fields Country Club Fighting Illini Invitational last weekend.
Senior Dennis Nevolo led the Illini throughout the tournament, capturing a perfect 4-0 singles record to earn Most Outstanding Player accolades. The 2011 All-American, who is currently No. 7 in the Campbell/ITA rankings, knocked off two nationally ranked opponents, including No. 20 Alex Musialek of Kentucky and No. 26 Carlos Cueto of California.
Meanwhile, junior Bruno Abdelnour went 3-1 in singles play, while classmate Stephen Hoh captured two victories of his own. Freshman Tim Kopinski had success as well, as the newcomer secured his first collegiate victory in his Illini singles debut.
Preview: The Orange and Blue will be back in action this weekend at the University of Virginia Ranked +1 Invitational, Sept. 23-25 in Charlottesville, Va.
Review: The Illini women's tennis team kicked off its fall season at the Duke Fab Four Invitational, Sept. 16-18 in Cary, N.C. Senior Amy Allin, junior Rachael White, sophomore Allison Falkin and freshman Melissa Kopinski each picked up solid singles victories over the weekend.
In her debut tournament with the Orange and Blue, Kopinski played her way to the third-place match of her flight. The Illini newcomer advanced on a walkover in her first match before downing Duke's Annie Mulholland in second-round action. She came up just short in her next two matches, however, falling to fourth place in her bracket.
Preview: The Illini will take the week off before traveling to Evanston, Ill., for the Wildcat Invitational, which begins Sept. 30.