Review: In a battle of the last two remaining unbeatens in collegiate volleyball, top-ranked Illinois defeated #12 Purdue in four sets -- 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23. Illinois moves to 15-0 overall, continuing its second-best start in school history and is one of two teams atop the Big Ten standings. Nebraska is also 4-0 in the league. The Illini also defeated Indiana in four sets -- 25-15, 21-25, 25-19, 25-14. Illinois had its second and fifth-best Huff Hall crowd in school history in those matches. A standing-room only crowd of 4,261 watched Illinois defeat Purdue, while the fifth-best crowd in history, 3,108, saw the Illini down the Hoosiers.
Purdue outhit the Illini .191-.168, but the Illini defense was crucial in pushing through. Illinois out-blocked the Boilers 11-8 and committed six fewer service errors (13-7).Finding the difference between the two teams really was like splitting hairs.
Michelle Bartsch was equally strong defensively as offensively, using a fist dig to set up a Colleen Ward kill in the most memorable point of the night. The senior All-American finished with 15 kills and 15 digs and one solo block on a ball down the line. Ward had 14 kills and 17 digs and sophomore libero Jennifer Beltran had one of her best matches as an Illini with 26 digs.
The win was a total team effort for the Illini who saw junior Annie Luhrsen (44 assists) direct a multiple threat offense. Junior Erin Johnson had 11 kills and hit .333 to go along with five blocks. Freshman Liz McMahon's presence was felt as well, both on offense (nine kills) and defense (five digs).
Against Indiana, Bartsch hit .333 with six kills in the opening set; serving eight straight points, including five on aces in the second set, and coming up with the play of the year, a diving dig that caught the Hoosiers by surprise, landing safely on the Indiana side for an Illinois point. That gave Illinois a 15-11 advantage in set three.She finished the night 14 digs and a team-high 16 kills.
Although the passing wasn't as consistent as the coaching staff would like, the defensive effort was there all night. Time and again the Illini chased down balls to save the point, out-digging Indiana, 58-48.Beltran had 19 digs to pace the team. Illinois slowed down the Indiana attack, forcing 30 Hoosier attack errors on the night.
Preview: The Illini have two big road tests this week with matches at Ohio State (Friday) and #9 Penn State (Saturday). Illinois has just one victory over Penn State in State College in school history.
Soccer (8-4-1, 2-2-1)
Review: The Fighting Illini soccer squad (8-4-1, 2-2-1) finished its first home Big Ten weekend undefeated, downing Indiana, 4-1, before fighting past Purdue, 1-0. Vanessa DiBernardo recorded three goals on the two-game slate, including both game-winners, to earn Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Marissa Mykines and Megan Pawloski also notched one goal a piece.
To give Illinois its first lead against the Hoosiers, DiBernardo tallied the lone goal of the opening half at the 39:36 mark, her 10th goal on the season. Junior Niki Read controlled play outside the 18-yard box toward the right sideline and crossed the ball into the center, where DiBernardo received the pass, dribbled once and fired a shot into the left side of the goal. Indiana (5-6-1 overall, 1-3-0 Big Ten) tied the contest at 1-1 early in the second half against the run of play, getting a goal from Kate McCusker in the 48th minute.
However, the game only remained tied for five minutes before DiBernardo again gave the Illini a one-goal advantage. The eventual game-winner also doubled as DiBernardo's 11th goal on the season, matching her 19-game freshman total in only her 12th game of the current year, a mark which also led the Big Ten Conference during the 2010 season.The Illini added two insurance tallies to reach the final score, 4-1.
Against Purdue (4-8-2, 1-3-1), the Illini and Boilermakers completed a possession-oriented first half without either team finding a way into the scoring column, while the Orange and Blue earned six shot attempts against a lone strike from the Boilermakers. The second half mirrored the first as each team tested the opposition's defense, with Purdue keeping extra numbers back throughout to try and slow down the high-powered Illini offense. However, Illinois benefited from a Purdue penalty within their goalie box and converted their first penalty kick attempt of the season to create the difference in the contest.
Mykines found a seam in the Purdue defense toward the left edge of the 18-yard box and Boilermaker Marta Lynch used a slide tackle from behind in an attempt to slow up Mykines during her breakaway in the 57th minute. The physical tackle resulted in a yellow card issued to Lynch and the penalty kick, which DiBernardo converted for her third goal on the weekend and 12th of the season.
Preview: Illinois continues its season at Michigan State (10-3-0, 3-2-0) with a Saturday, Oct. 8 contest scheduled to begin at noon CT. The game will air on the Big Ten Network as part of a delayed broadcast on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. CT.
Women's Cross Country
Review: The Illinois women's cross country team finished in fourth place at the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, totaling 116 points. The 5K race in Chicago, Ill., featured 538 runners in the 45 total squads competing. Finishing first for the Illini and 18th overall was Meghan Frigo, who in her third race this season ran a personal-best 5K time of 17:59, improving her previous time of 12 seconds.
The race also marked the season debut of junior Courtney Yaeger. Yaeger ran the course in a time of 18:06 and also placed second for the Illini. Following Yaeger was junior Madeline Aufmann (23), freshman Britten Petrey (30) and sophomore Katie Porada (34). Both Aufmann and Porada set personal-best 5K times at the meet.
Preview: The Illini will compete next on Oct. 14, traveling to Madison, Wis., for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational or Peoria, Ill., for the Bradley Classic.
No. 16 Men's Golf
Review: No. 16 Illinois repeated as champions of the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate, and senior Luke Guthrie won his fifth career title with a personal-low 54-hole tournament total of 203 (-10). The Illini recorded their first under-par round of the season with a 282 (-2) to end the event at an even-par 852, some 23 strokes ahead of Akron (875). Sophomore Thomas Pieters, who took the runner-up spot at the event for the second year in a row, fired the squad's low round of the season thus far with a six-under 65 to finish with a career-low total of 207 (-6).
The Orange and Blue not only won by 23 strokes, but also shot 23 strokes better than their winning score (875) from last season at the ISU tournament. The Illini picked up their first victory of the season and won the event for the fourth time, as they also won in back-to-back years from 2007-08. Guthrie is the third Illini to earn individual medalist honors at the event, joining former Illini Chris DeForest, who did so twice in 2007 and 2010, and Scott Langley, the 2008 champion. Illinois did not compete at the event in 2009.
Preview: Illinois will wrap up its fall season next week at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, from Oct. 10-11.
Review: The Illini placed fifth in the 16-team field at the Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational with an overall score of 945 (+81). The Illini, who improved by three strokes with each round of the tournament, finished one shot behind fourth-place Michigan (944) while host Kentucky (924) took first place followed by UCF (932) and Augusta State (940) rounding out the top three.
Senior Samantha Sloan (231) led the Illini and finished sixth overall with a 15-over par total score at the par-72, 6,360-yard Big Blue Course. Sophomore Ember Schuldt (235) finished four strokes behind Sloan after to finish in a tie for 14th.
Preview: Illinois will be back in action at the Lady Northern Invitational in French Lick, Ind., on Oct. 10-11. The event will be held at the same course as the 2012 Big Ten Championships.
Review: Two members of the Illini women's tennis team competed last weekend at the Wildcat Invitational in Evanston, Ill., as fifth-year senior Marisa Lambropoulos and freshman Julia Jamieson went a combined 5-1 in singles action and 2-2 in doubles play.
On the first day of the three-day tournament, Lambropoulos and Jamieson teamed up to capture doubles wins over pairs from Michigan State and Illinois-Chicago.
The following day, they each picked up first-round singles victories, marking Jamieson's first solo collegiate win. The Illini newcomer continued her success in her second match, taking a quick 6-1, 6-1 victory over Oklahoma's Peta Maree Lancaster. Lambropoulos had a solid second match as well, but the Lake Forest, Ill., native could not finish off her opponent, dropping a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 thriller to Whitney Ritchie of Oklahoma.
In day-three action, both Illini were stellar, as Lambropoulos and Jamieson downed their opponents in straight sets to wrap up the weekend. Jamieson went a perfect 3-0 in singles play without dropping a set in her first tournament with the Orange and Blue, while Lambropoulos posted a 2-1 mark over the weekend.
Preview: Two Illini will be back in action this week, as Lambropoulos and junior Rachael White will compete in the qualifying rounds of the ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Oct. 4-5.
Review: The University of Illinois softball team used its trio of pitchers to throw a no-hitter against visiting Parkland, coming away victorious, 14-0. The Cobras only managed one baserunner on the day as a result of a fielding error in the first. Senior first baseman Meredith Hackett led the offensive outburst, recording a pair of two-run home runs. Juniors Jackie Guy and Pepper Gay and freshman Shelese Arnold combined to hold Parkland hitless, striking out 12 batters in the process without issuing a walk.
The Orange and Blue then went 3-1 over the weekend in Normal, Ill. They topped Loyola-Chicago, 9-1, and SIU-Edwardsville. 3-2, on Saturday before splitting its pair of Sunday contests with 3-2 loss to Illinois State followed by a 9-8 victory over Southern Illinois.
Preview: The Illini completed their fall campaign last week.
Men's Cross Country
Review: The Fighting Illini men's cross country team was off last weekend.
Preview: The Illini are off this weekend, but will travel to Madison, Wis., to compete in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. CT.
Review: The Illini men's tennis team was off last weekend.
Preview: The Orange and Blue will be in action throughout the week at the ITA All-American Championships, Oct. 3-9 in Tulsa, Okla.