Illinois will host the Tianjin professional team from China for the second straight year.
March 27, 2012
Champaign, Ill. - Fresh off a trip to the NCAA national title game, the Illinois volleyball team opens its spring competition schedule this Saturday (March 31) in the Quad Cities. The Illini and the Iowa State Cyclones will conduct drills in the morning then scrimmage in the afternoon in an event that is open to the public. First serve for the scrimmage is at 2 p.m. at Bettendorf High School.
The local fans will get a chance to see the Illini in action when Illinois ends the spring with a match against Tianjin, a professional team from China. The Illini swept Tianjin in three sets a year ago. The match at Huff will be April 17 at 7 p.m. Cost will be $1 with proceeds going to the Illini Networkers.
Illinois has two other dates on the schedule. The Illini will meet Kansas State on Saturday, April 7 at 1:30 p.m. in a match hosted by Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and will play four matches on Saturday, April 14 at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora, Ill. Opponents and match times for that event have not yet been determined.
Iowa State ranked eighth in the final AVCA National poll after going 25-6 and advancing to the Minneapolis Regional Final. The Cyclones defeated Milwaukee, Miami, Fla., and Minnesota before falling to Florida State in five sets in the match to get the Final Four. Kansas State finished the year ranked 22nd nationally after going 22-11 and reaching the Honolulu Regional Semifinal. Along the way the Wildcats defeated Wichita State in round one and upset Nebraska in Lincoln in five sets in the NCAA second round. Tianjin won its second straight Chinese Volleyball Association (CVA) title in 2011, downing Guangdong Hengda in the best-of-three series finals.
"We return the bulk of players who played a lot for us except for the outside hitting position," Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly said. "They're extremely talented and they're learning a lot right now. We're playing a lot more volleyball than we have in the past because we have some players who need the experience of game competition."