Notes: Illini To Visit Neighbors to the East
ILLINOIS VS. THE FIELD
The Fighting Illini are 42-36 all-time against Purdue and 15-20 in West Lafayette. Friday's match will take place at Mackey Arena, traditionally Purdue's basketball facility, which has a seating capacity of 14,123. Purdue is 9-4 all-time at Mackey, going 3-2 in 2012. Similarly to the Illini, the Boilermakers held the 2012 NCAA Regional at Mackey Arena, and thus hosted some matches there during the regular season. Purdue held the Active Ankle Challenge at Mackey Arena, going 3-0 against unranked teams to claim the tournament title. The Boilermakers then hosted No. 2 Penn State on Nov. 17 in front of a crowd of 5,520 and fell 3-1. Purdue then saw its 2012 tournament run come to halt on Dec. 7, falling to No. 11 Minnesota, 3-1, in the Regional Semifinals.
Of the 13 volleyball matches held at Mackey Arena, two of them were against Illinois back in the mid-80s. Purdue set its attendance record at 10,645 on Oct. 29, 1985, in a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan, then defeated Illinois in five one week later on Nov. 5 in what would prove the deciding match for the 1985 Big Ten title. The Illini exacted revenge one season later, as Mike Hebert came home with his first win in West Lafayette on Oct. 22, defeating the Boilermakers, 3-2, to remain undefeated in Big Ten play en route to the Illini's first-ever Big Ten title.
The Illini are 58-17 all-time against Indiana, including 24-8 in Bloomington. Illinois enters the weekend riding a four-match winning streak over the Hoosiers, and have won 10 of the last 11 matchups. The sole loss in that streak was a disappointing one, when Indiana defeated Illinois in Bloomington, 3-1, on Nov. 26, 2010, to eliminate the Illini from Big Ten title contention after the devastating loss of First Team All-American Laura DeBruler. Despite finishing under .500 in the Big Ten that year, the Hoosiers had an exciting home season, going 8-2 in Big Ten play with wins over five of the six teams ahead of them in the standings.
ON THE SMALL SCREEN
As a program, Illinois has played on television 150 times over its history. The Illini are 87-63 all-time on the small screen, including 33-37 on national TV. On Oct. 5, Illinois pulled out an exciting come back over No. 14 Michigan to defeat the Wolverines in front of a national TV audience on the Big Ten Network. The win snapped a six-match BTN losing streak and marked the Illini's first win on BTN since 2011. The Illini are now 11-15 on the Big Ten network and 1-1 on television in 2013.
ILLINOIS HAS NATION'S TOUGHEST SCHEDULE
• According to the NCAA RPI, Illinois has played the nation's most difficult schedule so far this season. The Illini have faced seven teams in the RPI top 25 and 11 of their 14 matches were against teams in the top 50. Illinois' opponent Texas, ranked #1 in the RPI, is the only other team to have faced more than four top-25 teams, going 6-1 against them for the #2 SOS. Additional opponents San Diego (#8) and Penn State (#9) also sit in the top 10.
• Based on this week's AVCA Coaches Poll, the Illini face six of the top 10 teams, 14 of the top 20, and have 23 (of 30) matches against teams that are receiving votes.
• Huff Hall will be the site of many great competitions, as five top-10 opponents will come to Champaign. The Illini opened the home season in style with visits by then-No. 2 Texas, No. 6 Washington, and Arizona State, who was receiving votes that week but has since jumped to No. 16. The Illini hosted then-No. 12 Nebraska on Sept. 28, who has since entered the top 10, and awaits visits by No. 4 Penn State and No. 7 Michigan State.
• The Illini have faced 10 ranked opponents thus far. Illinois defeated then-No. 18 Florida State and then-No. 17 Kentucky opening weekend, but fell 3-1 to the host LBSU, who was receiving votes. Illinois split with a pair of ranked foes the following weekend in Ames, falling to No. 14 San Diego, 3-1, but sweeping No. 11 Iowa State. The Orange and Blue defeated Arizona State, which was receiving votes and moved to No. 18 in the following poll, in their home opener, then dropped matches to No. 6 Washington and No. 2 Texas. Illinois fell 3-0 at No. 15 North Carolina on Sept. 20 and at home to No. 12 Nebraska on Sept. 28. Illinois then went 1-1 on the road, falling at No. 9 Michigan State (3-0) but defeating No. 14 Michigan, 3-2. The Illini are 4-6 against teams ranked at the time of the match.
• According the first RPI of the season, Illinois will face 11 of the top 25 teams and have just two opponents ranked outside the top 100. The Illini dropped a close match to #1 Texas in five, and also take on #5 Penn State, #7 Nebraska and #9 Michigan State twice, along with #8 San Diego (L, 3-1).
• Based on the RPI, Illinois' best victory came over #23 Kentucky (3-2), with five of the Illini's six victories coming over teams ranked in the top 60. Alternately, seven of Illinois' eight losses were to teams in the top 35, while Long Beach State has dropped to 107.
• 15 of Illinois' 21 opponents participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including three of the Final Four teams (Texas, Penn State, Michigan).
• The Fighting Illini faced three 2012 conference champions in their non-conference slate: Texas (Big 12), Florida State (ACC) and San Diego (West Coast), and went 1-2.
ILLINI TOP THE ATTENDANCE CHARTS
• At the 2013 Illini Classic, the Illini averaged 2,613 fans, with a total of 3,538 fans attending the "Stuff Huff" match vs. No. 6 Washington. That mark sits just behind the 2012 "Stuff Huff" match in 11th all-time at Huff Hall.
• Illinois hosted Iowa on Sept. 27 at State Farm Center in the Big Ten season opener. The event drew a crowd of 7,061, the second-largest crowd in school history and the largest crowd ever for a volleyball-only event (the record, set in 2009 at 7,632, was held in conjunction with basketball's Illini Madness promotion).
• The following evening, 3,476 fans came to watch Illinois take on No. 12 Nebraska, the 14th-largest crowd in Huff Hall history.
^NCAA Tournament; *held at State Farm Center
• The Illini drew a total of 33,713 fans over 12 home matches in 2012, for an average of 2,809 per match, which is second only to the 1992 season, when the Illini set a then-NCAA record for season attendance. The Orange and Blue hosted the NCAA Regional that season, which featured three of the all-time top-five crowds at Huff. Through the first five weeks of 2013, Illinois is averaging 3,675 fans, which is nearly 600 higher than its best season ever.
• Illinois is 2-3 at home this season, with all three losses coming to teams in the top 15. The Illini are 64-16 in front of a home crowd since the start of 2008. 14 of the 16 losses came to teams in the top 25, including three to No. 1 Penn State.
• Through the first six weeks of the season, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in average attendance (3,675) and seventh in total accumulation (18,375).
• Five of the top 10 teams attendance-wise are Big Ten teams: Nebraska (1), Illinois (4), Minnesota (5), Penn State (7), Wisconsin (9).
BELTRAN MOVING UP DIGS CHARTS
In her first two seasons at Illinois, Jennifer Beltran recorded the top two single-season digs performances in school history. She followed with a 500-dig season in 2012, good for sixth all time. Beltran entered her final season in second place all-time with 1,694 career digs. With 205 digs so far in 2013, the libero needs just 23 more to pass Ashley Edinger '09 and become the Illini's all-time career digs leader.
Additionally, Beltran is eighth in the nation among active players and the active Big Ten leader, ranking 13th all time in conference history. With 500 digs in 2013, a figure she's met in each of her first three seasons, Beltran can finish second all time in the Big Ten record books.
*First two seasons at Creighton