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    2011 Fall Olympic Sports Update #11

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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. 31-Nov. 6). The soccer team won its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2003 after tallying three victories over Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. The volleyball team fell at Purdue in a midweek match but bounced back with a win over Indiana. Dennis Nevolo highlighted men's tennis action with a runner-up finish at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships while the women's tennis team competed at Purdue. The swimming and diving team picked up three wins on the road, the women's golf team wrapped up its fall season with a second-place showing and the wrestling team kicked off its season.



    No. 18 Soccer (16-4-2, 8-2-1)

    Review: No. 18 Illinois soccer (16-4-2 overall) earned the 2011 Big Ten Tournament Championship with victories over Ohio State, Michigan State and No. 11 Penn State to win the first tournament crown for the program since 2003. The Illini used penalty kicks to move past Ohio State in the quarterfinals after tying, 1-1, through double overtime. Illinois then defeated Michigan State in overtime, 1-0, and the Nittany Lions, 2-1, in extra time to earn the title.

    Against the Buckeyes (10-8-2), Vanessa DiBernardo tallied the lone regulation goal for the Orange and Blue, while junior goalkeeper Steph Panozzo stopped two Buckeye penalty kicks to secure the win. With the tie, Illinois secures the longest unbeaten streak in program history after setting the consecutive wins mark against Michigan in the final regular season contest. DiBernardo equalized the contest with time running down in the first half for Illinois (14-4-2, 8-2-1). Ohio State employed a physical style throughout the opening 45 minutes, being called for 13 fouls as a result. Following the final penalty of the half, which occurred 25 yards up-field from the left post of the Buckeye goal, DiBernardo stepped up and drilled a shot into the left side of the net, past the outstretched arms of Buckeyes goalkeeper, Katie Baumgardner, with two minutes left in the opening stanza.

    Against Michigan State (14-6-1), Panozzo came up clutch with seven saves, a new career high, to allow the Illini offense the time it needed to break down Michigan State's defensive formation. For the third straight contest between the Illini and the Spartans, Illinois secured a one-goal victory, with Marissa Mykines providing the tally less than three minutes into overtime. Mykines controlled possession outside the Michigan State 18-yard box and dribbled across the front of the goal before finding a small opening in the Spartans' defense. With Michigan State leaving a tiny shooting window, Mykines sized up a cross-body attempt, firing a right-footed shot into the lower-left corner of the net.

    Against No. 11 Penn State (19-4-0), Senior midfielder Julie Ewing connected in the opening minutes, while sophomore midfielder DiBernardo scored in overtime to secure the automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. In the 93rd minute, DiBernardo controlled a pass from junior midfielder Nicole Denenberg and placed a shot into the lower-left corner of the goal netting to send the Illini away from Northwestern's Lakeside Field undefeated in their previous 11 contests. Following the victory, Panozzo earned Defensive Player of the Tournament honors, while Mykines was named the tournament's top offensive performer. DiBernardo, Panozzo and Mykines were each selected to the all-tournament team as well.

    Preview: Illinois continues its season as a host site for the NCAA Tournament First Round, welcoming Notre Dame (10-7-3) to Champaign, Ill., for a 1 p.m. CT contest at Illinois Soccer Stadium on Sunday, November 13.

    No. 7 Volleyball (22-3, 11-3 Big Ten)

    Review: Illinois begins the week in a three-way tie for second in the Big Ten with Penn State and Purdue at 11-3 in the conference. The three teams are two matches behind Nebraska (13-1) for the conference lead. The Illini started the year 20-0 and was the nation's last unbeaten team. After dropping three of their next four matches, Illinois got back in the win column with a four-set victory over Indiana on Nov. 5.

    Senior All-American Colleen Ward had 15 kills and five blocks while hitting .560 as No. 5 Illinois held off Indiana in Bloomington 25-17, 19-25, 25-22, 25-16. The Illini used a 14-6 advantage in blocks and some hot hitting at times to hold off the Hoosiers in a match that featured a lot of long runs by both teams.

    Illinois hit .429 in dominating the second set and .360 in controlling the fourth set all the while siding out an impressive 83 and 81 percent, respectively. In between, the Illini play was up and down, but they were finally able to neutralize the Hoosier attack, thanks to their physical play at that net. Junior Erin Johnson had a team-high eight block assists along with six kills. Freshman middle blocker Anna Dorn hit .400 with seven kills and five block assists. In the end, the Illini leaned on the arm of Ward, who had 10 of her 15 kills in the final two sets and committed just one hitting error on the night.

    Earlier in the week, No. 11 Purdue and Illinois continued their string of close sets. In October in front of a capacity crowd at Huff Hall, the Illini eked out a four-set win in which three of the four sets were decided by two points. On Nov. 2 at Purdue, the Boilermakers and Illini played four tight sets, this time with Purdue winning three of the four to take the match in a 21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-21 victory for Purdue.
     
    The teams combined for 165 digs, 85 of which came from Illinois. Sophomore libero Jennifer Beltran had 35 digs, tied for fourth most in a match in Illinois history. Senior Michelle Bartsch had a double-double with 10 kills and 20 digs. Ward had eight of her team-high 18 kills in the second set and added seven more kills in the third set.

    Preview: The Illini will host the Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday evening at 6 p.m. before welcoming the Ohio State Buckeyes to Huff Hall on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

    Men's Tennis

    Review: Illini seniors Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich represented the Orange and Blue at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Nov. 3-6 in Flushing, N.Y., as Nevolo played his way to a runner-up finish in his first-ever national championship match.

    Nevolo knocked off four nationally ranked opponents, including No. 3 Eric Quigley (Kentucky) and No. 9 Jose Hernandez (North Carolina), to advance to the title match, where he faced top-seeded Mitchell Frank (Virginia). Despite a dominating final-round second-set victory, the 2011 All-American could not finish off Frank in the third set, falling 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

    The Nevolo-Frank clash served as a rematch of the 2011 ITA All-American Championships, where eventual champion Frank handed Nevolo his only other loss of the fall season. Nevolo, who was seeded eighth in the tournament and ranked seventh nationally, ended the season with a team-leading singles record of 11-2 with his only two losses coming to Frank in national tournaments.

    Nevolo's second-place finish marked his first time playing in a national collegiate tournament finale and the first time an Illinois player advanced to the title match of the tournament since former Illini Ryan Rowe finished runner-up in 2007.

    Meanwhile, Kalmanovich fell in opening-round action and again in his first consolation match, ending the fall season with a 9-4 mark, including six victories over ranked opponents, with his only losses coming to top-25 players.

    Preview: Individual Illini will be back in action at the USTA JSM Challenger, Nov. 12-19 at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. The entire team will kick off its dual season in January.

    Women's Tennis

    Review: The Illini women's tennis team wrapped up the fall season last weekend, going 8-4 in doubles action and 10-16 in singles play throughout the three-day Schwartz Tennis Challenge, hosted by Purdue.
     
    Freshman Melissa Kopinski had a solid weekend for the Orange and Blue, going 3-0 in both singles and doubles play with three different partners. Sophomore Misia Kedzierksi had a strong showing as well, finishing the weekend with a 2-1 singles mark in her second tournament of the fall after coming back from an injury that ended her 2011 spring season.

    Meanwhile, the 37th-ranked duo of senior Chelcie Abajian and junior Breanne Smutko went 3-1 at the tournament, taking down teams from Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Iowa.

    Preview: The Orange and Blue will return to action for the dual season on Jan. 13 to take on Stephen F. Austin in Fort Meyers, Fla.

    Women's Golf

    Review: The Illini placed second in the 12-team field at the Fighting Camel Fall Classic, earning their second runner-up finish of the fall. Individually, all five Illini finished in the top 25, led by senior Samantha Sloan (5th) and redshirt freshman Jacqueline Calamaro. Senior Hailey Koschmann and sophomore Ember Schuldt tied for 14th while Katelin Dilger finished in 24th.

    Preview: The Fighting Camel Fall Classic marks the end of the fall season for the Illini. The Orange and Blue will continue action early next year, as they travel to Boca Raton, Fla., for the Illinois Challenge, a duel match event with Illinois State University on Feb. 4.

    Swimming and Diving

    Review: The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team improved to 3-2 on the season, taking down three opponents last weekend.

    The Orange and Blue got off to a strong start at Michigan State on Nov. 4, taking a thrilling 154.5-145.5 win over the Spartans for the first Illini victory of the season. Illinois claimed victories in six events, including a meet-clinching win in the 400 free relay, the final event of the night.

    Sophomore Courtney Pope led the Illini with first-place finishes in the 200 free and the 500 free and was a part of the meet-winning 400 free relay team. Sophomore Jessica Holz continued her winning streak, taking the 200 back for the third meet in a row and placing second in the 100 back.

    The team continued its success the following day in Chicago with wins over Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Illini earned victories in six events for their second straight meet, including four individual races and both diving events.

    Pope once again led the Illini, finishing first in the 1000 free and third in the 100 free, while Holz earned the top finish in the 200 back for the fourth consecutive meet. Senior Kelly Kunkel won the 500 free, and sophomore Emma Williams won her first collegiate event, finishing first in the 200 fly.

    Preview: The Illini will return to action for their final home meet of the season in a Senior Night showdown with Illinois State on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. CT at the ARC Pool.

    Wrestling

    Review: Six University of Illinois wrestlers won titles at the Loras Open on Saturday with 10 others placing in the top six in their respective weight classes. The Illini racked up 21 pins and 13 technical falls during the season opening tournament. Freshman Jesse Delgado took the title at 125 pounds, junior B.J. Futrell placed first at 133, senior Eric Terrazas earned the top spot at 149, junior Conrad Polz won the title at 165, and junior Jordan Blanton and sophomore Mario Gonzaleztook titles at 174 and 197, respectively.

    Preview: The Fighting Illini will travel to Harrisburg, Pa., to compete in the Wrestle for a Cure Duals where they will take on North Carolina, Kent State, The Citadel and Utah Valley.

    Men's Cross Country

    Review: The Fighting Illini men's cross country team did not compete last week.

    Preview: The Illini will travel to DeKalb, Ill., to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. CT.

    Women's Cross Country

    Review: The Fighting Illini women's cross country team did not compete last week.

    Preview: The Illini will travel to DeKalb, Ill., to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. CT.

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