2011 Fall Olympic Sports Update #14

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Each week the Olympic Sports Update will provide a recap of all the Fighting Illini action from the previous week (Nov. 21-27). It was a light week for Illini Olympic sports over the Thanksgiving holiday with only volleyball and women's basketball in action. The volleyball team, who swept Northwestern and downed Iowa on Senior Night, tied for second in the Big Ten for the third year in a row and earned the No. 3 overall national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The women's basketball team competed at the San Juan Shootout and fell to Green Bay and Arizona State in Puerto Rico.

No. 3 Volleyball (27-4, 16-4 Big Ten)

Review: Illinois, who finished the regular season 27-4 and tied for second in the Big Ten, will host Central Michigan, the Mid-American Conference Tournament winner, in the NCAA Tournament. The Chippewas finished the regular season 19-13 and are one of four teams from the MAC to make the field. Illinois earned the No. 3 overall national seed for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Illini will host first and second round games at Huff Hall on Friday and Saturday as the road to San Antonio begins. The Illini and CMU will face off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. The other first-round match-up features Western Kentucky (31-3) and Marquette (23-10) at 4:30 p.m. The winners meet in the second round on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.

Annie Luhrsen was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after helping the Illini hit .326 in a pair of victories, a 3-0 win over Northwestern, the quickest sweep of the season for the team, and a 3-1 victory over Iowa. Luhrsen had 43 assists vs. Northwestern and 53 vs. Iowa.

In the victory over Iowa, Illinois hit .407, including .607 in the first set, but struggled a bit defensively in allowing the Hawkeyes to take leads in the next three sets. In set two, Illinois scored the final six points after trailing 22-19. The senior outside hitters Colleen Ward and Michelle Bartsch led the offense. Bartsch hit a season-best .425 with 19 kills and fellow senior Colleen Ward was close behind at .385 with 17 kills.

Against Northwestern, the Illini held the Wildcats to just a .121 hitting percentage. Sophomore Jennifer Beltran and senior Michelle Bartsch led that defensive effort with 22 and 20 digs, respectively. Ward turned in yet another double-double with 13 kills and 17 digs.

The 27 wins for Illinois are the most since 1992, a year the Illini reached the Elite Eight of the tournament.

Women's Basketball (2-5)

Review: Illinois ended a long road trip with a pair of losses at the San Juan Shootout. The Illini fell to 18th-ranked Green Bay, 82-62, then lost a squeaker to Arizona State,  51-50. Junior Karisma Penn became the 24th Illinois player to surpass 1,000 points when she scored her first basketball vs. Green Bay and ended that game with 20 points. She scored 14 points in the first five minutes of the second half.

The Illini held Arizona State scoreless for over seven minutes in the second half in building leads of 42-36 and 47-39, but scored just three points in the final seven minutes of the game. The Illini got 23 points and 16 rebounds for Penn, but her long-range shot at the buzzer hit the backboard and bounced out. The Illini out-rebounded Arizona State 44-37, held the Sun Devils to 35.7 percent shooting and didn't allow a Sun Devil to reach double figures in points.

Preview: The Orange and Blue will travel to Clemson to play the Tigers on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. CT in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.


Review: The Illini wrestling team did not compete last week.

Preview: The Fighting Illini will head to Iowa City to compete in their first Big Ten dual against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday, Dec. 2. The dual will be available on BTN.com beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

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