Illini Fall at No. 11 Nebraska in Front of Sellout Crowd
Oct. 30, 2013
Lincoln, Neb. - The Fighting Illini showed fight early, but No. 11 Nebraska protected its home court in front of 8,283 fans to defeat Illinois, 3-0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-12). The Illini had a late lead in the second set, but the Huskers finished the frame on a 6-1 run to head into the break with momentum, and attacked for a dominating win in set three. With the win, Nebraska improves to 16-4 (9-2 Big Ten), while Illinois slips to 9-12 (5-6 Big Ten).
Jocelynn Birks led the Illini attack with 11 kills, and Morganne Criswell was close behind with nine, all of which came in the first two sets. Maddie Mayers had a solid offensive match, hitting .400 with six kills, and fellow-middle Anna Dorn led the defense with four block assists.
In the back row, Jennifer Beltran tallied a match-high 19 digs, moving her up yet another spot into fifth place all-time in Big Ten history with 2,019 career digs.
For Nebraska, Kelsey Robinson led both teams with 15 kills, hitting just one error for a .389 efficiency. Kadie Rolfzen had a double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs, and Justine Wong-Orantes led the Huskers with 12 digs. Cecilia Hall was a monster at the net, stuffing 11 of the team's 16 blocks.
Illinois won the first point of the match on a kill by Birks, but a 5-0 run served up by Kadie Rolfzen gave Nebraska a quick 5-1 lead. The Huskers ran the advantage up to 9-4, when Illinois snapped back to rattle off five straight with the help of a kill and an ace by Viliunas to tie the score at nine. After calling timeout, the Huskers came out firing, pulling back ahead 14-10, but Illinois hung tough to come back within one, 18-17. However, Illinois was unable to tie the score once again, and Nebraska finished off the frame with a 25-21 victory.
The second set was a nail-biter, as neither team help a lead larger than three. Nebraska maintained the lead early in the set, but back-to-back kills by Criswell midway through the frame put Illinois on top 16-14. Two Nebraska tied it at 16, but an error made the Illini the leader again. A series of errors helped Illinois to stay on top, soon leading 23-20. Nebraska called time out, and rocketed out of the break to win four straight points and be the first to reach set point, 24-23. A kill by Birks tied the score at 24, but a kill and a solo block by Robinson snatched the set from the Illini, as Nebraska took a 2-0 match lead with a 26-24 win in set two.
For the third straight set, Birks opened the frame with a kill, but Kelsey Robinson slammed kills on the next three sets and soon Nebraska led 5-1. Unlike the first set, Illinois was unable to force its way back into the frame, soon trailing 10-3 and eventually dropping the frame, 25-12.
The Illini complete their long road stretch on Saturday with a trip to Iowa. Illinois, who defeated the Hawkeyes 3-0 in front of a record crown back in September, will take on Iowa at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2.