Women's Volleyball
Volleyball Match Notes for Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational

Senior Annie Luhrsen ranks seventh in the Big Ten in assists per set.
Senior Annie Luhrsen ranks seventh in the Big Ten in assists per set.

Complete Match Notes (PDF)

Friday, Sept. 14 - No. 23 Illinois at No. 6 Texas - 6 p.m.
 Longhorn Network
   Radio: Illini Sports Network - Online and WDWS AM 1400 in Champaign
   Gametracker: http://bit.ly/SxYc05

Saturday, Sept. 15 - No. 23 Illinois vs. UCF - 9 a.m.
Illini Sports Network - Online Only

Saturday, Sept. 15 - No. 23 Illinois vs. Cincinnati - 7 p.m.
Illini Sports Network - Online and WDWS AM 1400 in Champaign

ILLINOIS Returns to Second Time warner cable texas invitational

Illinois heads to its second Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational after going 2-0 at the 2010 tournament. Ranked No. 5 at the time, the Illini upset No. 2 Texas, 3-0, then defeated Florida A&M, 3-0, to open the 2010 season, 5-0. Illinois' upset of the Longhorns snapped a 25-match home winning streak and handed Texas its first 3-set loss in seven years.

Illini History in Gregory Gym

The Illini have travelled to Texas four times, dating back to 1986, and have gone 3-1 (including the 2010 win over Florida A&M) in Gregory Gymnasium. Illinois defeated Texas, 3-2, on Nov. 22, 1986, in its first-ever trip to Austin shortly before closing out an 18-0 Big Ten slate and capturing the Illini's first of three-straight conference titles. After Gregory Gym reopened for volleyball competition in 1998, the Illini returned for three matches in 2010, sweeping the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational on Sept. 9-10, before dropping a heartbreaker to the Longhorns in five sets on Dec. 10 in the NCAA Regional Semifinals.

Illinois vs. the Tournament Field

The Illini have an all-time series record of 6-6 against Texas and are 8-3 all time against Cincinnati, including a 3-1 victory on the Bearcats' home court last weekend. The Longhorns have extinguished the Illini's NCAA title hopes twice, defeating U of I 3-0 in the 1995 NCAA Second Round and 3-2 in the 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinials. Meanwhile, the Illini defeated the Bearcats in the second round of the 2008 and 2010 NCAA Tournaments, and have won seven of their last eight matchups. Illinois will face UCF for the first time on Saturday. 


In looking at this week's AVCA rankings, the Illini would play at least one ranked team in each of the first 13 weeks of the season. Illinois has already played No. 11 Pepperdine, No. 15 Iowa State and No. 24 Louisville in successive weeks and met Dayton in the first game of the season, who entered the rankings the following week. This week the streak continues with No. 6 Texas, who sit at 6-2 after dropping matches to ranked Big Ten opponents No. 4 Penn State and then-No. 14 Minnesota the past two weekends. 

Illinois defeated No. 15 Iowa State on Aug. 31, marking the 12th-straight season and 18th of the last 19 that the Illini have posted a win over a ranked opponent.

The Big Ten has seven teams in the rankings with another two receiving votes. The conference has three of the top 10 teams, in No. 1 Nebraska, No. 4 Penn State and No. 10 Minnesota, followed by Purdue (14), Ohio State (21), Michigan (22) and Illinois (23). 

Tough Slate for CINCINNATI

Like Illinois, Cincinnati has had a difficult non-conference slate, already playing five ranked opponents. The Bearcats will look for their first victory over a ranked opponent this weekend, going 0-5 against No. 10 Iowa State, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 12 Florida State, No. 20 Illinois and No. 11 Purdue. 

ILLINOIS RANKED FOR 65th straight week

Illinois maintains its national ranking this week, checking in at No. 23 in the AVCA Top 25. The Illini have been ranked for 65 straight weeks dating back to the first playing week of 2008. The Illini used opening-weekend wins over No. 23 New Mexico State and No. 11 Oregon to return the rankings for the first time since 2004.

Birks off to hot start

Freshman Jocelynn Birks redshirted last season and thus had to wait a whole year to debut in an Illinois uniform. She has had a very positive start to the season, leading the Illini in kills, with 106, to go along with 29 digs and 11 blocks. 

Birks had eight kills in the opening set against Ohio, the lone Illinois win of the first weekend. Down 23-21 in that set, Illinois rallied to score the final four points to win it. Birks served the final three points, including a crucial ace.

The Willow Springs, Ill., native had breakout performance at Cincinnati on Sept. 7, smashing a team-season-best 25 kills with three block assists and an ace. 


Anna Dorn was named to the all-tournament team at the season-opening Dayton Flyer Classic. Dorn led the Illini with a .375 attack percentage to go along with 18 kills and nine block assists. The Munster, Ind., native led the Illini with six blocks vs. Pepperdine.

DORN, Birks Go All-Tournament in Cincinnati

Anna Dorn and Jocelynn Birks both made the all-tournament team at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge after a pair of solid performances in the front row. The duo combined for 51 kills and 16 block assists against Cincinnati and No. 24 Louisville in the Illini's 1-1 trip to Ohio. Birks punched a team-season-high 25 kills on Friday night and followed it up with a 13-kill performance on Saturday. Dorn was nearly flawless, hitting over .400 in both matches, while earning 13 kills with just two errors and stuffing 11 blocks, including a whopping eight against No. 24 Louisville.

The Buck Stops Here

Illinois put up 16 blocks against No. 24 Louisville on Sept. 8, the most since stuffing 17 in back-to-back matches against Penn State and Michigan in October of 2011. Anna Dorn, Erin Johnson and Liz McMahon contributed eight blocks apiece, a feat that has been matched just once since the institution of rally scoring in 2001. The first instance came in a 3-1 victory over Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, where Johnson, Michelle Bartsch and Johannah Bangert manned the front row; Johnson contributed six block assists and two solo blocks, Bartsch had eight block assists and Bangert stuffed 10 block assists as the Illini combined for 18.5 total blocks. 

Double Trouble

Annie Luhrsen recorded the first double-double of the season against Ohio, notching 48 assists and 12 digs. It marked the 13th double-double of her career, all with 10+ assists and digs. Erin Johnson is the only other current player to earn a career double-double, having recorded 11 kills and 10 blocks at Minnesota on Sept. 23, 2011.

Annie Luhrsen (12)
vs. Ohio (8/25/12) - 48a, 12d
vs. UCLA (12/17/11) - 47a, 14d
vs. USC (12/15/11) - 66a, 11d
vs. Iowa (11/26/11) - 53a, 12d
at Michigan State (11/18/11) - 38a, 13d
vs. Ohio State (11/12/11) - 46a, 13d
at Nebraska (10/22/11) - 48a, 10d
at Northwestern (10/19/11) - 37a, 10d
vs. Michigan State (10/15/11) - 41a, 10d
at Penn State (10/8/11) - 44a, 15d
vs. Louisville (9/17/11) - 49a, 10d
vs. Tennessee (9/2/11) - 45a, 11d
vs. UCSB (8/27/11) - 50a, 13d

Erin Johnson (1):
at Minnesota (9/23/11) - 11k, 10b


Jennifer Beltran entered the season ranked fifth in career digs in school history with 1,240, on pace to become the all-time leader in that department. She owns the top two single-season digs marks in school history.

Illinois career digs list
1. 1,921 Ashley Edinger 2006-09
2. 1,426 Tracey Marshall 1996-99
3. 1,393 Mary Coleman 1995-98
4. 1,346 Lauren Harks 2001-04
5. 1,292 Jennifer Beltran 2010-present
6. 1,172 Beth Vrdsky 2003-06
7. 1,133 Sandy Scholtens 1985-88
8. 1,117 Laura DeBruler 2007-10
9. 1,092 Mary Eggers 1985-88
10. 1,003 Petra Laverman 1988-90 

Illinois single-season digs list
1. 623 Jennifer Beltran 2010
2. 571 Jennifer Beltran 2011
3. 564 Ashley Edinger 2007
4. 562 Ashley Edinger 1008
5. 520 Beth Vrdsky 2005
6. 488 Ashley Edinger 2006
7. 466 Michelle Bartsch 2011
8. 465 Tracey Marshall 1998
9. 396 Erin Borske 1995
10. 393 Lauren Harks 2003 


• Illinois played Iowa State on Aug. 31 in front of the best opening night crowd in school history, where 3,770 fans filled Huff Hall. The Illini drew 3,269 the following afternoon. Those were the ninth- and 15th-best crowds, respectively, of all-time at Huff Hall.

• After the first three weeks of competition, the Illini rank fourth in the nation in home attendance, with an average of 3,520 in both matches against Iowa State.

• After No. 1 Hawaii, the rest of the top five are all members of the Big Ten (Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota). The same was true for the entire 2011 season (Hawaii, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State).

• Illinois has sold about 1,250 (750 reserved and 250 general admission) season tickets.

• The Illini ranked 10th in the nation in home attendance at 2,475 in 2011. 

• The Illini had their second biggest crowd in Huff History with 4,261 vs. Purdue on Oct. 1, 2011, a night after drawing 3,108 vs. Indiana. 

• Illinois was 16-1 at home in 2011 and  is 58-7 in front of the home crowd the past five years. Two of the losses have come to No. 1 Penn State. ast year, a crowd of 4,021 saw Illinois defeat Michigan State. That marked the first time since 1992 that the Illini have had two crowds of 4,000-plus in the same season. Capacity crowd at Huff is listed at 4,050. 

• In the years the Illini have qualified for the NCAA Tournament, they have a 258-47 home record (.846). 

• Illinois is 22-3 all-time at home during the NCAA Tournament.

2012 NCAA Attendance Leaders 
Rk Team Total Dates Avg.
1 Hawaii 62,205 9 6,912
2 Penn State 9,826 2 4,913
3 Nebraska 27,732 6 4,622
4 Illinois 7,039 3 3,520
5 Minnesota 12,245 4 3,061


• Illinois plays 13 different teams (eight of them twice) that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Of those, 12 advanced to the second round, eight reached the Sweet 16 and three were in the Elite Eight. In total, the Illini play 14 matches against Sweet 16 teams. 

• The schedule features 17 matches against teams ranked in this week's top 25. Those ranked opponents are Nebraska (1), Penn State (4), Texas (6), Minnesota (10), Louisville (12), Purdue (14), Pepperdine (18), Dayton (20), Ohio State (21), Michigan (22) and Iowa State (25). Additionally, Northwestern and Michigan State are receiving votes.


Ali Stark had 21 kills and 14 digs and Liz McMahon had 16 kills and eight blocks to pace the white squad to a five-set victory over the orange squad Saturday night in front of 1,490 fans at Huff Hall. The final set scores were 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12.

Stark led the white squad as the redshirt-freshman hit .250 in 48 swings on the night. Sophomore Jocelynn Birks also played well, recording 11 kills, four aces and three digs. As usual, Illinois played a defensive minded game with several long rallies. The Illini had 159 digs on the night, paced by junior libero Jennifer Beltran's 29 digs.

The Illini were also eager to see how the Illinois freshmen would respond, as they were led by Kathryn Polkoff's five kills while Alexis Viliunas added 23 digs.


lllinois junior Jennifer Beltran and sophomore Liz McMahon have selected Preseason All-Big Ten by the conference coaches. Both Beltran and McMahon are former members of the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, but this is the first overall All-Big Ten honor for both.

Additionally the conference coaches ranked the top six teams in the league and Illinois checked at No. 5. Defending conference champion Nebraska is the pick to repeat followed by Penn State, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State.

A three-year starter at libero, Beltran ranks fifth on the Illinois career digs list with 1,292 having posted the top single-season digs marks for the program in the last two seasons (623 in 2010 and 571 in 2011). She had 32 digs vs. USC in the national semifinal match

The 6-6 McMahon made a splash as a freshman, starting on the right side. She was named to the all-tournament team at the 2011 Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. She hit .545 with 13 kills in a win at No. 23 Michigan and hit .407 with 14 kills combined in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.


Illinois had its best season in school history in 2011, reaching the NCAA championship match for the first time ever. The Illini topped No. 1 ranked USC in five sets in the national semifinal match before falling in four sets to UCLA in the championship match.

• Illinois has made 20 NCAA Tournaments, 13 Sweet 16s and three Final Fours in school history.

• Illinois has been made a national seed in the NCAA Tournament four straight years. The Illini were the No. 9 seed in 2008, the No. 5 seed in 2009, No. 8 seed in 2010 and the No. 3 seed in 2011 (the highest by the Illini since seeding began in 1998). Illinois has reached the Sweet 16 in 1985, `86, `87, `88, `89, `92, `95, `98, 2003, `08, `09, `10 and `11.


Illinois has 23 All-America honors among 14 players in school history. Of those, six players have earned 11 honors with Kevin Hambly on staff. Three of the five first-team All-Americans have come under Hambly (Laura DeBruler, Colleen Ward, Michelle Bartsch), two of whom are now members of the coaching staff.


The Sept. 21 match with Minnesota is Community Church Youth Group Night. All registered youth groups will have the opportunity to meet with the University of Illinois Campus Crusade for Christ organization who will host a discussion prior to the match about continuing your faith into college. Also, the first 500 fans will receive an "Ace-Block" fan.

The Sept. 23 match with Wisconsin is Youth Day/Camper Reunion Day/Team Day. All 2012 summer campers who pre-register will receive free admission to the match. Organized youth volleyball teams may pre-register for free admission to the match as well. Prior to the match, the Decatur Scovill Zoo will provide a petting zoo for fans of all ages.

The Oct. 5 match against Ohio State is Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to support those affected by breast cancer. 

Men's volleyball shares the stage with the women on Sunday Oct. 21. Following the nationally-televised match against Nebraska, two of the top men's team in the nation square off as Lewis University meets Loyola (Chicago).

The Illini meet Purdue on Halloween night. Fans are encouraged to wear costumes to the match and participate in "spooktacular" events beforehand.

The Nov. 3 match against Indiana is Girl Scout Night. Whether or not they are scouts, girls eighth grade and below  are invited to spend the night in the second annual lock-in following the match. Participants will enjoy dinner and activities, will sleep overnight at the University of Illinois facilities, then wake up to an exclusive breakfast with the entire volleyball team.

When the Illini football and volleyball teams are home on the same weekend, fans are once again able to use their ticket stub from the football game for admittance to volleyball. This offer is available on Sept. 23 (vs. Wisconsin) and Nov. 17 ( vs. Michigan).

Pre-registration is required for the church youth group, camper reunion, team day and lock-in promotions.  To register or for more information about any of our promotions or events, please contact Carrie Snyder in the marketing department at snyderc@illinois.edu or 217-333-6969.