Match Notes: Illini Host Ohio State, Top-Ranked Penn State
Oct. 3, 2012
Friday, Oct. 5 • No. 19 Ohio State at No. 21 Illinois • Huff Hall • 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 6 • No. 1 Penn State at No. 21 Illinois • Huff Hall • 7 p.m.
NO. 19 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (11-5, 2-2 Big Ten)
The Buckeyes are off to a solid start, accumulating just five losses, all to ranked teams. On opening weekend, Ohio State defeated Houston and Toledo, but lost in five to then-No. 20 Oregon, who is now ranked second in the nation. OSU went on to win the next six straight, includng a 3-2 win over then-No. 10 Dayton, and a 3-1 victory over Western Kentucky, who is now ranked 20th. The following weekend, Ohio State took a pair of losses to No. 18 Pepperdine and No. 11 Florida State, before opening conference play. The Buckeyes are 2-2, defeating Iowa and Wisconsin, but falling to No. 3 Nebraska and No. 10 Minnesota.
Statistically speaking, Ohio State ranks 35th in the nation in hitting percentage, attacking at a .252 clip, and is 53rd in the NCAA in assists (12.88/set). Senior outside hitter Mari Hole leads the Buckeyes with 245 kills, ranking 43rd in kills and 44th in points nationally, followed by oppositie hitter Emily Danks with 177. The senior has a team-best 24 aces, which is good for fifth in the Big Ten and 51st in the nation. Senior middle Mariah Booth leads the team in actack percentage, hitting .322 with 125 kills and adds 36 blocks, tied with Danks. Andrea Kacsits leads the team with 43 blocks, while setter Amanda Peterson has 474 assists. Davionna DiSalvatore mans the back row, ranking seventh in the Big Ten with 220 digs.
NO. 1 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (14-1, 4-0, Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions are back at the No. 1 spot in the AVCA Coaches Poll for the second-straight week and the 70th time in school history, second only to Nebraska (85 weeks at No. 1). Penn State is 14-1 on the year, losing only to Oregon State in five sets. The Nittany Lions have defeated five teams that are currently ranked, in Western Kentucky, Louisville, Stanford, Texas and Nebraska, with Stanford (9), Texas (2) and Nebraska (3) all sitting in the top 10 at the time of the match.
The five-time NCAA champions sit in the top 12 in the NCAA in four statistical categories, and lead the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage (.131). The Nittany Lions sit at fourth in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.320), fifth in kills (14.86), 10th in assists (13.67) and 12th in blocks (2.90). Individually, 2011 Second-Team All-American Katie Slay is second in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.466) and third in the Big Ten in blocks (1.33), ranking third on the team with 117 kills. Three-time Big Ten Setter of the Week Micha Hancock, ranks third in the nation in aces (0.63) and 13th in assists (11.73). Defensive specialist Dominique Gonzalez leads the team with 170 digs, followed by 2011 First Team All-American Deja McClendon with 136 and Hancock with 112.
THE ILLINI vs. THIS WEEKEND’S COMPETITION
The Illini will look to even their all-time mark against the Buckeyes on Friday, sitting at 35-36 all-time. Though under .500 overall, the Illini have taken the last nine-straight contests, including going 3-0 in 2011; Illinois won 3-0 on Oct. 8 in Columbus, 3-1 on Nov. 12 at Huff Hall, and 3-1 in Gainesville, Fla., in the NCAA Regional Semifinals. The Orange and Blue are 19-16 all-time against the Buckeyes in Huff Hall.
The Nittany Lions have the best winning percentage against the Illini out of all Illinois' opponents, owning a 37-9 record against the Orange and Blue. However, just three teams have more than nine wins over Penn State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Nebraska; Pittsburgh has defeated the Nittany Lions the most times, going 17-30 against them, but their last victory over PSU was in 1987, since which time Penn State has won the last 14 matches. Penn State has lost just 16 times since the start of 2007, with three of those losses coming to Illinois, including both matchups of 2011. Stanford is the only other team with three wins over the Nittany Lions in the past five seasons; the Cardinal defeated PSU, 3-2, on Sept. 15, 2007, and again on Sept. 11, 2010, between which time the Nittany Lions struck together a NCAA Division I Women's record 109-match winning streak.
ILLINOIS, PSU HAVE STREAKY HISTORY
Penn State and Illinois hold the top five Big Ten winning streaks of all time. The Nittany Lions hold the record with 65 consecutive conference victories, from Nov. 11, 2006, to Sept. 18, 2010, a record which was snapped at Illinois on Sept. 24, 2010. PSU has the second-longest (49, 1997-99), and third-longest (41, 2004-06) streaks, and the Illini hold the fourth (40, 1985-87) and fifth longest (25, 1992-93). Penn State defeated Illinois, 3-0, on Oct. 9, 1993, to end what was then the second-longest Big Ten streak, before subequently marking the top three.
FACING NUMBER 1
The Illini have faced the top-ranked team in the nation 15 times. Illinois lost the first 14 matchups, but won its most recent contest with the No. 1 team in the country on Dec. 15, 2011, knocking off USC in the Final Four to reach its first-ever NCAA Championship match. Prior to defeating the Trojans, the Illini had faced the No. 1 Nittany Lions seven times, Long Beach State once, UCLA twice, Nebraska once, and Hawaii three times (in that order) dating back to 1983.
LAST TIME OUT
The Orange and Blue took the show on the road last weekend, to face Indiana and No. 13 Purdue. After dropping the first set in Bloomington, the Illini stormed back to defeat the Hoosiers, 3-1, with set scoes of 25-12, 25-17, and 25-20. The Boilermakers took the first lead on Saturday night, winning the opening set, 25-20. Illinois evened it with a 25-22 win, but Purdue went up 2-1 with another 25-20 win. The Illini powered past the Boilermakers, 25-10, in the fourth set, but Purdue bounced right back in the fifth, to win 15-9 and take the 5-set victory.
Jennifer Beltran notched her 1,394th career dig against Indiana, to move into third place all time at Illinois, passing Coach Hambly's wife, Mary Coleman '98, on the list. Beltran needs just 15 additional digs to take over second place. Senior Erin Johnson tabbed her 400th career block in West Lafayette, to join an elite club of Illini blockers.
Illinois career digs list
Friday night's match against Ohio State will be the Illini's annual Breast Cancer Awareness match. Over the past two weeks, the Illini Networkers auctioned off 19 limited edition jerseys, raising a grand total of $4,253.50 to support the Young Survaival Coalition. 16 of the jerseys were sold via silent auction during the last homestand, and the remaining three were auctioned on eBay. The auction winners were each given the option to place the name of their choice on the back of their jersey to honor a friend or family member with cancer. Each member of the Fighting Illini will wear one of these jerseys in the match against Ohio State, before the jerseys are given to the auction winners. With the exception of Jennifer Beltran's libero jersey (navy with pink trim), all the jerseys game-worn jerseys will be pink. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show their support for the cause.