Illinois remains undefeated with sweep of Loyola
Sept. 7, 2005
Champaign, Ill. - Illinois made it six in a row to start the 2005 season with a three-game 30-18, 30-22, 30-13 sweep of visiting Loyola in front of a roaring crowd of 1,519 at Huff Hall. The Illini improve to 6-0 on the season while the visiting Ramblers drop to 0-4.
Illinois was solid in all phases of the game, committing just 11 attack errors while hitting a respectable .278. Rachel VanMeter tallied 15 kills and hit .417 to pace the way. Vicki Brown had some dramatic putaways, totaling seven kills and a .455 hitting percentage.
The story for Illinois was the block on this night. The Illini tallied 12 team blocks paced by Meghan Macdonald's one solo block and seven block assists. Illinois also reached double digits in service aces, an impressive feat in a three-game match, finishing with 11 of those. Once again Macdonald led the way with three.
"Tonight we were focusing on the middle and closing out the block," Macdonald said. "I thought we were very aggressive and we did a great job maintaining."
"We were aggressive on the block and it ended up paying off," added Head Coach Don Hardin. "In practice we've spent a significant more time on passing and blocking."
The block was especially key in limiting Loyola's offense. Even when Illinois didn't connect on a block, the Ramblers had trouble mounting a rally. The Ramblers had 33 attack errors and hit -.039 for the match, including -.147 in the third game.
With game one tied at 9, Illinois went on a 16-3 run to take a commanding 25-12 advantage. Game two was a little tighter. The Ramblers played the Illini close for half of the game, but again, Illinois turned a 16-16 tie into a 30-22 victory thanks to scoring 14 of the final 20 points. A 13-3 run in the third game gave Illinois a comfortable 20-10 advantage.
Stephanie Obermeier set the first two-and-a-half games and led the squad with 28 assists. Macdonald paced Illinois in digs with six.
The tone was set early thanks to a raucous crowd, including a full student section. The crowd never let Loyola back into the match.
"It's great to be back at Huff Hall," VanMeter said. "I love the student section and the Spike Squad. They helped us get wired and we never looked back."
Illinois travels Thursday morning to Las Vegas to participate in the UNLV Invitational. The Illini open play Friday at 5 p.m. against No. 11 Louisville at 5 p.m. CT.