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    Annual Alumni Match This Saturday, August 24
    Maddie Mayers, who redshirted in 2012, goes for the kill at last season's alumni match.

    Maddie Mayers, who redshirted in 2012, goes for the kill at last season's alumni match.

    Aug 21, 2013

    Champaign, Ill. - In a cherished tradition dating back to 1985, the Fighting Illini faithful will once again get their first glimpse of the 2013 Illinois volleyball team at the annual Alumni Match on Saturday, August 24, at Huff Hall. Hosted by the Illini Networkers, the Illinois volleyball support group, Saturday's contest will feature the 2013 squad playing against a team of Illinois volleyball alumni.  The event will feature high-quality competition and provide fans a chance to get to know this season's newest student-athletes while taking a trip down memory lane with past favorites. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

    This year's alumni lineup is chock full of talent, including two-time All-Americans Hillary Haen (2007-10) and Colleen Ward (2010-11), and First Team All-Big Ten selection Shadia Haddad (1998-01).

    In addition to welcoming back familiar faces, the crowd will get a chance to see the 2013 Fighting Illini in action for the first time just one week before the regular season begins. Senior libero Jennifer Beltran seeks to become Illinois' all-time digs leader, while juniors Anna Dorn and Liz McMahon hope to continue their success on the court while stepping into new leadership roles as upperclassmen.

    Redshirt sophomore Jocelynn Birks returns after a head-turning rookie campaign in 2012, as she and McMahon both earned 2013 Preseason All-Big Ten honors at outside hitter.  Classmate Ali Stark returns after starting 28 matches last season, and Alexis Viliunas looks to take over primary setting duties.

    Saturday's match will mark the first chance to see Illinois' five freshmen hit the court at Huff, including highly-ranked recruits Michelle Strizak (No. 22) and Katie Stadick (No. 51), along with Katie Roustio (top 250), Danielle Davis and McKenna Kelsay.

    Maddie Mayers, who redshirted in 2012, will compete with Stadick and Kathryn Polkoff to pair with Dorn at middle blocker, while Roustio and Strizak will be in the mix with McMahon, Birks, Stark and Morganne Criswell at outside hitter. Davis and Kelsay join Julia Conard and Courtney Abrahamovich in the back row at defensive specialist, while Kelsay also has experience at setter.

    The alumni match is a ticketed event, however unlike during the regular season, all seating is general admission. Season ticket packages include a ticket to the match, but reserved ticket holders are not guaranteed their regular seat. Admission is $5 to the general public, $2 for youth, and free for Illinois students with their I-Card. To purchase an advance ticket, call 1-866-ILLINI-1 or visit the Illinois Ticket Office at the State Farm Center. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the ticket mobile located outside of Huff Hall beginning one hour prior to the match.

    Saturday's event marks the first opportunity for fans to pick up copies of the 2013 volleyball poster and season guide. Posters will be available for free, and fans will have to opportunity to have them autographed by members of the Illini following the match. Additionally, Illini faithful can purchase a copy of this season's team guide for $5, which features photos, bios, records and more.

    The 2013 regular season begins on Friday, Aug. 30, when Illinois travels to Long Beach, Calif., to take on Florida State, Long Beach State and Kentucky. Illinois' home opener is at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, against Arizona State as part of the Illini Classic.

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