Illinois Takes Down In-State Foe SIU, 3-0
Aug. 30, 2014
Champaign, Ill. - The Fighting Illini returned to action at the Illini Classic on Saturday morning, and after a slow start, the Orange and Blue closed out a three-set victory over Southern Illinois (25-23, 25-13, 25-12). The Illini hit .404 in the match to improve to 2-0 in 2014, while SIU drops to 0-2.
After hitting .333 in the opening match on Friday night, the Illini offense stepped up its efficiency even further this morning, attacking at a .404 clip while holding the Salukis to just .244. Jocelynn Birks led the attack with 12 kills, hitting .455, followed by Ali Stark (10), Liz McMahon (8) and Morganne Criswell, who hit .636 with seven kills in the first two sets. Sophomore Katie Roustio made her 2014 debut, replacing Criswell on the outside in the third set, tallying three kills.
Sophomore setter Allison Palmer led the Illini with 20 assists, Alexis Viliunas tallied 13, and libero Brandi Donnelly marked down eight assists to go with a team-best nine digs. Viliunas notched six digs, and Birks, Palmer and Julia Conard each had five.
Saluki middle Taylor Pippen topped the SIU offense with nine kills, followed by Meg Viggars with eight and Andrea Estrada with seven, hitting .462.
After a tentative start from both teams, SIU pulled out in front midway through the first set, going up 12-10 on a Pippen kill then extending the lead to 19-14 on a service run by Hannah Kaminsky. However, the Illini battled their way back to within one, 21-20, with a pair of kills from Birks, and a Stark slam tied the score at 22. Illinois capitalized on a Southern error to take the lead, and another Stark kill made it set point, 24-22. Barrow notched a kill to keep the Salukis alive, but she then went behind the line and served one into the net to cede the first set to Illinois, 25-23.
Illinois took charge in the second set, opening up 6-2 and taking the frame, 25-13. The Illini out-hit SIU .444 to .280 in the set with an 85 percent sideout rate. Birks and Criswell combined for eight kills on 11 flawless swings, and Palmer landed a pair of aces.
The Illini took some time getting started after the break, but a solid service run by Conard lifted the Illini ahead 13-8 with the help of two straight kills by McMahon, and a dominating serving performance by Birks elevated the Illini's advantage to 20-10. Three-straight Illini kills, by Stark, Roustio and Maddie Mayers, respectively, slammed the door on the match, as Illinois captured the third set, 25-12, and claimed its second straight three-set victory.
Illinois returns to the court tonight at 7:30 p.m. for the final match of the Illini Classic, when the Orange and Blue host No. 20 North Carolina. The match will be streamed live on Illini All-Access and can be heard on WDWS 1400 AM.