2011 Fall Olympic Sports Update #8

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Each week the Olympic Sports Update will provide a recap of all the Fighting Illini action from the previous week (Oct. 10-16). The No. 1 volleyball team continued its undefeated season with a midweek win over No. 20 Michigan and a five-set victory over Michigan State on Saturday night. The soccer team jumped into second place in the Big Ten following a pair of 1-0 wins over Minnesota and Wisconsin. The men's golf team wrapped up its fall season with a third-place finish at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational and a third Big Ten Golfer of the Week accolade. Both cross country teams competed at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and the men's tennis squad played at the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional. The women's golf team is currently playing in the final round of the Hoosier Fall Invitational while the swimming and diving team will kick off the season with Splash Bash.

No. 1 Volleyball (19-0, 8-0 Big Ten)

Review: Illinois remained as the only unbeaten team in the country before heading to Northwestern (Wednesday) and No. 5 Nebraska (Saturday).

The Illini had 17 blocks in the win over Michigan The Illini were dominant in the early sets, then had to reach back to close out the 20th-ranked Wolverines, 25-14, 25-19, 21-25, 25-20.

Freshman middle blocker Anna Dorn, the most recent Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, posted double digits in blocks for the second straight match, finishing with 10 block assists, one shy of her freshman teammate Liz McMahon, who connected on a lethal block on numerous occasions. Illinois out-blocked the Wolverines, 17-3 on the night and limited Michigan (14-5, 2-5) to a .182 attack percentage.

On Saturday, Colleen Ward had 22 kills and hit .538 as top-ranked Illinois survived a five-set battle with Michigan State 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 23-15, 15-9 in front of 4,021 fans at Huff Hall. The crowd, the seventh largest in Huff Hall history, helped mark the first time in 19 years that the Illini have had multiple 4,000-plus crowds in the same season.

Aside from the fifth set, Illinois battled from behind most of the night. The Illini came back from big deficits to win the first two sets. In set one, Michigan State built a 22-17 lead, only to see Illinois score the final eight points of the set for the win. Junior Erin Johnson served the final seven points, tallying two aces in the rally.

In set two, Michigan State built a 17-13 advantage before once again the Illini rallied to take the set. Illinois scored four straight points to tie it at 17-17 then took leads of 19-18, 20-19 and 23-21. Michelle Bartsch had kills on five of the Illini's final seven points of the set.

Michigan State committed to taking Illinois' middle attack out of the game, leaving it up to the outside hitters to pull the Illini through. Ward was impressive, adding four blocks and eight digs to match-high 22 kills. Bartsch was equally as impressive at times, adding 19 kills and 11 digs while hitting .228.

Preview: The Illini will hit the road for two matches this week, as they will square off against Northwestern on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before heading to Nebraska for a match on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Soccer (11-4-1, 5-2-1)

Review: The University of Illinois soccer team improved to 11-4-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the Big Ten, jumping to second in the conference standings with a pair of 1-0 victories over Minnesota and Wisconsin during the previous week. Sophomore midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo provided her seventh game-winner against the Gophers on Friday evening, while classmate Megan Pawloski totaled her sixth goal of the year, a single-season career high, against Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon during SoccerFest 2011.

DiBernardo broke the scoreless tie in the 19th minute against Minnesota (6-8-2 overall, 3-3-2 Big Ten), tallying her 13th goal of the season to reach 30 points on the year. Junior midfielder Niki Read controlled play 35 yards from the net in the center of the field and lofted a pass over the Minnesota defense and into the box. DiBernardo ran onto the ball and placed a shot low and into the left side netting, past the dive of Gophers goalkeeper Cat Parkhill.

With 70 minutes of action remaining in the contest following the goal, the Illinois defense clamped down to make DiBernardo's mark hold up, limiting Minnesota to one on-target attempt over the remainder of the contest. Illinois goalkeeper Steph Panozzo turned aside both shots placed on net, including an acrobatic save in the early-going to keep the contest scoreless. Gophers midfielder Taylor Uhl earned a look on goal in the 10th minute from the left side of the 18-yard box, with only Panozzo to beat. The freshman from Eden Prairie, Minn., fired a line drive shot headed for the far post; however, Panozzo adjusted to the play perfectly to deny the attempt.

Against Wisconsin, Illinois struck for the only goal in the 25th minute, with Pawloski recording her sixth tally of the season. DiBernardo started the play in the middle of the field, dribbling toward the Wisconsin net before passing to junior forward Shayla Mutz near the endline inside the 18-yard box. Mutz added one touch to send a low cross through the box as Pawloski sprinted onto the play and used a sliding kick to re-direct the ball into the top of the netting from inside the six-yard box.

The Illini defense downed its fourth consecutive opponent by a margin of 1-0, as the Orange and Blue have kept Purdue, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin scoreless in succession, registering 415 consecutive shutout minutes dating back to Illinois' contest with Indiana on Sept. 30. Panozzo recorded five saves against the Badgers for her sixth shutout of the season, while the Illinois defense, including starters Jenna Carosio, Kassidy Brown and Stephanie Pouse, teamed to hold Wisconsin (8-5-3, 3-2-3) to only eight shots on the day.

Preview: Illinois continues its season with the final road trip of the year as the Illini travel to Northwestern and Nebraska. The Orange and Blue face the Wildcasts (2-12-1, 1-6-1) in Evanston, Ill., at 7 p.m. CT, before heading to Lincoln, Neb., for a contest against the Cornhuskers (6-8-1, 3-5-0) at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 23. Both contests will be aired on BTN.com as Big Ten Network Student U productions.

Men's Tennis

Review: Juniors Stephen Hoh and Bruno Abdelnour played their way to the singles round of 16 last weekend at the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional in Columbus, Ohio, before falling to No. 5 Chase Buchanan (Ohio State) and No. 28 Casey Watt (Notre Dame), respectively. In doubles action, Hoh and freshman Tim Kopinski teamed up to advance to the round of 16 as well but ended their run with a loss to 33rd-ranked duo Evan King and Shaun Bernstein (Michigan).

Meanwhile, Kopinski won his opening-round singles match before falling in round-two action to top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Blaz Rola of Ohio State, while fellow newcomer Ross Guignon dropped his first match of the tournament. Guignon managed one win, however, capturing his first collegiate doubles victory alongside Abdelnour in the opening round of doubles play.

Preview: The Orange and Blue will be back in action in two weeks at the Big Ten Indoor Tournament, Oct. 28-31 in Iowa City, Iowa.

No. 16 Men's Golf

Review: For the second-straight year, an Illinois golfer won the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. Sophomore Thomas Pieters carded an even-par 72 during the final round to clinch his first collegiate tournament title with a career-low 54-hole score of 209 (-7). Senior Luke Guthrie, who also earned his first career title in winning the inaugural event last season, finished fourth overall at 213 (-3), as the duo led the No. 16 Illini to a third-place finish in a quality 12-team field.

Pieters equaled his career-low 18-hole score with an opening round 66 (-6) and followed it up with a one-under 71 before finishing with a final round even-par 72. He earned co-Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors, giving an Illini the Big Ten accolade for the third time in four fall tournaments. Mason Jacobs won the award on Sept. 21 following Olympia Fields while Luke Guthrie picked up the honor on Oct. 5 following the D.A. Weibring Invitational.

Preview: Illinois completed its fall schedule and will be back in tournament action next year beginning with the Tinervin Cup in Coral Springs, Fla., on Jan. 28, 2012.

Women's Golf

Review: The Illinois women's golf team completed the final round of the Lady Northern Intercollegiate with a 308 (+24), giving the Orange and Blue an overall score of 924 (+72) to place seventh in the 12-team field. Individually, senior Samantha Sloan (230) and sophomore Ember Schuldt (230) led the Illini, finishing in a tie for 30th overall.

Preview: The Illini wrapped up day on of the Hoosier Fall Invitational in second place after 36 holes.

Men's Cross Country

Review: The Fighting Illini men's cross country team placed 26th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday. The Orange and Blue, who faced their toughest competition of the season, finished ahead of three Big Ten squads and were led by junior Jordan Hebert for the second time in his career.

Hebert led the Illini and placed 49th overall with an 8K time of 24:31, which is three seconds behind his previous best. The Elmhurst, Ill., native improved upon his previous performances at the meet after finishing 117th in 2010 and 102nd in 2009. Following Hebert and making his season debut was Jim Riddle, who came in 82nd overall with a time of 24:43.

Preview: The Orange and Blue will be home this weekend as they welcome cross country teams to the Illini Open on Friday, Oct. 21 at the UI Arboretum at 4:45 p.m. CT before hosting the Big Ten Championships on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Women's Cross Country

Review: In a field of over 300 runners, the Fighting Illini turned in a strong effort against an elite group at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday. Sophomore Meghan Frigo led the Illini for the third consecutive meet this year, as the Fighting Illini finished 44th.

Preview: The Orange and Blue will be home this weekend as they welcome cross country teams to the Illini Open on Friday, Oct. 21 at the UI Arboretum at 4:45 p.m. CT before hosting the Big Ten Championships on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Women's Tennis

Review: The women's tennis team was off last week.

Preview: The Illini will return to action at the ITA Midwest Regionals, Oct. 20-25 in Columbus, Ohio.

Swimming and Diving

Preview: The Illini will open their season this Friday at the ARC Pool, where they will host Northwestern for Splash Bash 2011, sponsored by FOX 55/27 Illinois. The event will included free food for the first 500 fans, inflatables, music and prizes.

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