Review: No. 16 Illinois (17-4-2) battled past the defending National Champions, Notre Dame, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon, at Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium to reach the NCAA Tournament Second Round. Junior midfielder Niki Read scored the lone goal of the contest, while the sustained winds of up to 45 MPH from the South dictated pace and possession throughout the game.
Throughout the a scoreless first half, during which the Irish played with the wind at their backs, Illini goalkeeper Steph Panozzo secured three saves in net to keep Notre Dame out of the scoring column. The Irish broke through for their first shot on goal in the 22nd minute, with Panozzo punching a well-placed ball by Mandy Laddish over the top-right corner of the netting. Following the Notre Dame corner kick, Rebecca Twining tallied the second attempt on-net, with Panozzo in place to keep the ball out of the back of the goal. The Irish's last on-target shot came in the 43rd minute, when Adriana Leon sized up a strike from distance that Panozzo was able to snag for the Maple Ridge, British Columbia, native's third and final save.
After stifling the Notre Dame attack during the first half, the Illini offense connected for the only goal of the game less than five minutes into the final frame. Read settled a ball by junior forward Shayla Mutz and maintained possession 30 yards up-field, dribbling toward goal before firing a shot on-frame. Read struck the ball with pace and accuracy, putting the attempt just under the crossbar, but still out of the reach of Irish goalkeeper Maddie Fox.
Preview: The Orange and Blue continue NCAA Tournament action at No. 4-nationally ranked and No. 2-seeded Oklahoma State (20-1-2), with a 5 p.m. CT contest on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex in Stillwater, Okla.
No. 7 Volleyball (24-3, 13-3 Big Ten)
Review: No. 7 Illinois hit a combined .367 in victories over No. 9 Penn State and No. 22 Ohio State. The victories combined with a Purdue win over Nebraska puts the Illini into a second-place tie with the Boilermakers at 13-3, one match behind the league-leading Huskers (14-2).
Illinois defeated Penn State 25-21, 25-23, 28-26 providing the Illini with their first ever season sweep of the Nittany Lions and the first by any team against PSU in a decade.
The Illini had a balanced attack in the win over Penn State, thanks to some great decisions from setter Annie Luhrsen, who had 30 assists. Bartsch and Liz McMahon had 10 kills apiece to pace the Illinois attack. McMahon, who had six of her kills in the third set, hit .562 without an error. The same can be said for Erin Johnson, who had nine kills in 14 swings without an error for a .643 attack percentage. Senior Colleen Ward had four of her eight kills in the first set.
Illinois hit .390 in a four set 25-18, 24-26, 26-24, 25-17 victory over Ohio State. McMahon hit .455 with 12 kills and five blocks vs. Ohio State and .500 with 22 kills for the weekend.
Illinois has been working on playing low error and that was especially evident on the weekend. The Illini had just 18 attack errors in seven sets with only six of those being unforced balls hit out of bounds.
In addition to McMahon, Ward hit .426 with 13 kills and eight digs while Michelle Bartsch had 13 kills and nine digs. The weekend was a testament to resurgent setter Luhrsen (46 kills, 13 digs) who distributed the ball about as evenly as one can. The middle blockers Johnson (.316 pct.) and Anna Dorn (.500) and seven and six kills, respectively v. OSU. Dorn also had a big night at the net with 10 blocks assists, helping the Illini to a 12-5 advantage in blocks as a team.
Preview: The Illini will head to East Lansing, Mich., for a match against the Spartans 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday night before taking on Michigan Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT.
Women's Basketball (1-1)
Review: Kersten Magrum had a career-high 23 points and a career-best seven rebounds to help lift Illinois to a 72-42 victory at Cleveland State Sunday afternoon. Magrum made 8 of 11 field goals and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in the victory. Both teams are now 1-1 on the season.
Magrum was one of three players in double figures for the Illini. Sophomore Amber Moore added 12 points and five assists on 5 of 10 shooting. Freshman Ivory Crawford tallied 11 points, making all three of her three-point attempts.
As a team, Illinois used hot shooting to pull away. The Illini shot 50 percent from the field (28 of 56) for the game, but shot 56.3 percent in outscoring the host Vikings 43-25 in the second half. Illinois was also 6 of 13 from three three-point arc.
The game was a homecoming for a pair of Illini, who hail from the Cleveland suburbs. Both had key contributions to the victory. Junior Karisma Penn, a pre-season All-Big Ten selection, had nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Senior point guard Lydia McCulley led a strong defensive attack with a team-leading three steals to go along with four assists.
The Illini opened the season with a 71-52 loss at home to South Carolina. McCulley led the Illini with 13 points, while junior Penn added 10 points and five blocks.
The game was tight early on and the Illini trailed by only seven at halftime, 31-24, but the Gamecocks outscored the Illini 34-11 to start the second half and put the lead as high as 30. The Illini used a 14-0 run to close the gap late, but had dug themselves too big a whole to come all the way back.
Illinois was hurt by 22 turnovers and 18 offense rebounds for the Gamecocks. The Illini shot 34 percent from the field (13-of-38) but did get to the line 35 times, more than any game last season, making 25 (71 percent).
Preview: The Illini will host Memphis on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Assembly Hall.
Men's Cross Country
Review: The Fighting Illini men's cross country team placed fifth out of 25 teams at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in DeKalb, Ill. Senior Jim Riddle automatically qualified for the national meet by leading Illinois at the NCAA Midwest Regional and finished 12th overall, completing the 10K race in 31:34.79. Riddle will be joined at the national meet by teammate Jordan Hebert. The junior finished second for the Illini at the regional meet and 17th overall, with a time of 31:40.64.
This will be both runners' first appearance at the championships. Both Riddle and Hebert earned All-Region honors for their finish. This achievement marks the first time in program history the Illini have sent two individual runners to the national championships.
Illinois last qualified an individual in 2007 when Trent Hoerr won the regional title. Crossing the finish line third for the Orange and Blue was senior Colin Mickow, who timed 32:13.64 with a 33rd place finish overall. Also scoring points for the Illini were seniors Phil Pompei (32:27.35) and Nathan Troester (32:43.17), who finished 43rd and 51st, respectively.
Preview: Riddle and Hebert will compete at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, Nov. 21.
Swimming and Diving
Review: The Illini swimming and diving team took down Illinois State, 190-110, on Senior Night (Nov. 11) at the ARC Pool. The Illini won 10 events en route to their fourth straight victory to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Senior Britni Fisher had a stellar night for the Orange and Blue, shattering a school record with her winning score of 319.65 on the three-meter board in the final home meet of her career. Fisher also won the one-meter dive, breaking her personal record with a score of 285.46, which was good for fourth in school history.
Kristen Manias led the Illini in swimming, winning the 100 free and finishing second in the 100 back, while sophomore Erica Lynn won the 100 breast and took second in the 200 breast, and senior Kelly Kunkel captured first in the 200 free and third in the 500 free.
The Illini relay teams added to the success, capturing first and second in both the 400 medley relay and 200 free relay.
Preview: The Orange and Blue will travel to Evanston, Ill., to compete in the Northwestern Invitational, Nov. 17-19.
Review: Nine wrestlers for the No. 8 Fighting Illini won at least two bouts as Illinois went 4-0 at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals in Harrisburg, Pa. Illinois moved past North Carolina 32-9, No. 24 Kent State 24-18, The Citadel 48-3 and Utah Valley 41-3 to finish the day undefeated.
No. 3 B.J. Futrell (133), No. 20 Jackson Morse (157), Conrad Polz (165), No. 3 Jordan Blanton (174) and No. 17 Mario Gonzalez (197) each went undefeated in the Illini's four victories. B.J. Futrell went 4-0 on the day with four pins while Morse went undefeated with one pin and two technical falls. At 165, Polz recorded three major decisions and one decision to start the season 4-0 and Blanton posted two pins and two major decisions to win each of his bouts on the day. Gonzalez won both of his matches by decisions to remain undefeated at 2-0.
Preview: The Fighting Illini will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to compete against Lehigh at 11 a.m. CT and Clarion at 1 p.m. CT.
Women's Cross Country
Review: Senior Stacy Hague paced the Illini at the NCAA Midwest Regional, leading the Orange and Blue to a 15th place finish to bring the 2011 season to a close. Hague led the squad for the second consecutive race, completing the 6K course in a time of 22:45:10 and finishing 77th overall.
Following Hague was junior Courtney Yaeger who placed second for the Illini and 87th overall with a time of 22:55.40. Also scoring points for the Illini were freshman Colette Falsey (23:08.60), sophomore Katie Porada (23:10.23) and freshman Britten Petrey (23:10.71), placing 102nd, 104th and 106th at the meet, respectively.