Women's Volleyball
Match Notes: Illinois to Face No. 4 Nebraska Live on ESPN2

The Illini are 7-9 all-time on ESPN/ESPN2, inlcluding defeating No. 1 USC on ESPN2 in the 2011 NCAA Semifinals.
The Illini are 7-9 all-time on ESPN/ESPN2, inlcluding defeating No. 1 USC on ESPN2 in the 2011 NCAA Semifinals.

Oct. 18, 2012


No. 25 Illinois (10-9, 4-5 Big Ten) vs. No. 4 Nebraska Huskers (16-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
Sunday, Oct. 21 • 2 p.m. • Huff Hall • ESPN2 • WDWS

TV: ESPN2 • Sam Gore and Karch Kiraly • WatchEspn
Radio: Illini Radio Network • Dave Loane and Mike Trame
          WDWS 1400 AM in Champaign • Online
LiveStats:Presented by GameTracker

The Huskers ride an eight-match winning streak into today's match, not having lost since their Big Ten opener at Penn State (1-3). As a team, Nebraska sits in the top three in the conference in five of the seven major stat categories, ranking second in blocks (2.87) and third in hitting percentage (.309), opponent hitting percentage (.182), assists (13.38) and kills (14.41). They also sit in fifth in the nation in hitting efficiency, 15th in kills and 19th in blocks.

All of Nebraska's hitters have an efficiency above .250, with Meghan Haggerty hitting .401 with 116 kills to go along with 60 blocks, including 11 solo. Gina Mancuso leads the team with 220 kills and 23 aces, and Hannah Werth has 193 kills and a team-high 204 digs. Hayley Thramer leads the team with 74 blocks, hitting .340 with 116 kills, and Lauren Cook ranks third in the Big Ten with 722 assists.

The Illini are 5-16-1 all-time against the Huskers, going 0-1 since Nebraska joined the Big Ten last season. Illinois is 3-2 against the Huskers in Champaign-Urbana, but host Nebraksa in Huff for the first time since 1994. Nebraska is one of just nine teams to have faced the Illini more than five times and earn a record above .500 (Central Michigan 4-3, Hawaii 8-1, Illinois-Chicago 9-3, Illinois State 29-27, LSU 4-3, Ohio State 37-35, Penn State 38-9, UCLA 10-0).

The Orange and Blue won their second-consecutive five-set match on Wednesday night, defeating Northwestern, 3-2. It marked the ninth time this season that the Illini have gone to five, while it was just the first 5-set match of the year for the Wildcats. NU took the first set, before Illinois went up 2-1 wtih a 25-14 victory in the third. The WIldcats battled back in the fourth, winning 25-17, but the Illini dominated in the fifth, earning a 15-9 victory to claim the match.

Three Illini freshman registered double-doubles, led by new setter Alexis Viliunas with 49 assists, 14 digs, four blocks and two aces. Liz McMahon had a dominating night at the net, hitting .324 with 18 kills and five block assists, and Jocelynn Birks put up a career-high three aces wtih 14 kills and 10 digs. The service line was the difference-maker in the match, as Illinois had a season-best eight aces and just five errors, while the Wildcats had a season-worst 14 errors and just four aces.

The Illini have appeared on local, regional and national television 144 times since 1988, compiling a 84-60 (.583) overall record. Nationally, Illinois is 33-27, including 7-9 on ESPN/ESPN2 and 10-12 on the Big Ten Network. The Illini are 1-3 on television this season, defeating Texas on the Longhorn Network, bute losing to Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan on BTN.

After the Illini fell into an uncommon four-match losing streak, Coach Hambly made a personnel change, starting freshman Alexis Viliunas over senior Annie Luhrsen at setter. Viliunas was on track to redshirt the season and take over setting duties next year, but in an effort to snap the skid and get the team where it needs to be, Viliunas entered the starting lineup on Oct. 13 at Michigan State.

Viliunas dazzled in her debut, keeping a calm sense of poise to lead the Illini all the way back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Spartans in five. The La Grange, Ill., native registered a double-double with 49 assists and 14 digs, went a perfect 3-for-3 on the attack, and stuffed a key block in the fifth to lead the Illini to victory. Viliunas was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Oct. 15 following her outstanding debut. She is the first Illinois freshman ever to earn a Big Ten weekly award for her first career appearance.

Redshirt freshman Jocelynn Birks erupted for 14 kills in the third set at Michigan on Oct. 10, the most in a single set since before 2002. Birks topped Rachel VanMeter's 13 kills registered in the fourth set against APSU on Sept. 2, 2005. Single-set breakdowns are not available for the majority of matches prior to 2002.

In her first two seasons at Illinois, Jennifer Beltran recorded the top two single-season digs performances in school history, ranking her fifth all-time in career digs entering the season (1,194). On Sept. 15, Beltran passed Lauren Harks `04 into fourth all time, when she recorded her first career double-double (11a, 18d) against Cincinnati. On Sept. 28, she vaulted over Mary Coleman '98 into third place, registering 12 digs at Indiana. One week later, on Oct. 5, Beltran passed Tracey Marshall '99 to move into second place, tabbing 25 digs against Ohio State. The junior libero has a ways to go before catching Ashley Edinger in the No. 1 spot (1,921), currently owning 1,514 career digs.

Illinois Career Digs
1. 1,921 Ashley Edinger 2006-09
2. 1,514 Jennifer Beltran 2010-
3. 1,426 Tracey Marshall 1996-09
4. 1,393 Mary Coleman 1995-98
5. 1,346 Lauren Harks 2001-04

Illinois Single-Season Digs
1. 623 Jennifer Beltran 2010
2. 571 Jennifer Beltran 2011
3. 564 Ashley Edinger 2007
4. 562 Ashley Edinger 2008
5. 520 Beth Vrdsky 2005

Additionally, Beltran is the active leader in the Big Ten in career digs, and sits in 21st all time in the conference.

Big Ten Career Digs
1. 2,791 Paula Gentil, MINN 2000-05
17. 1,553 Kim Kuzma, WISC 2007-10
18. 1,536 Pam Kavadas, IOWA 2001-04
19. 1,524 Juli Pierce, IND '04, 06-08
20. 1,516 Jessica Granquist, MINN 2008-11
21. 1,614 Jennifer Beltran 2010-

Senior middle blocker Erin Johnson has become one of Illinois' best blockers in school history, tabbing 24 solo blocks and 394 assists for a total of 418 blocks. She currently ranks eighth all-time in block assists and ninth in total blocks. She needs four block assists to move into seventh, but 33 to catch up to Michelle Bartsch '11 in total blocks. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native is the only active Big Ten player with 400+ career blocks.

Illinois Career Block Assists
1. 613 Johannah Bangert 2007-10
2. 452 Kristin Henriksen 1990-93
3. 442 Mary Eggers 1985-88
4. 422 Michelle Bartsch 2008-11
5. 413 Betsy Spicer 1997-00
6. 401 Sara Sorrell 1996-99
7. 398 Nancy Brookhart 1986-89
8. 394 Erin Johnson 2009-
9. 391 Denise Fracaro 1982-85
10. 339 Disa Johnson 1984-87

Illinois Career Total Blocks
1. 653 Johannah Bangert 2007-10
2. 562 Mary Eggers 1985-88
3. 550 Kristen Henriksen 1990-93
4. 522 Nancy Brookhart 1986-89
5. 497 Denise Fracaro 1982-85
6. 456 Betsy Spicer 1997-00
7. 455 Sara Sorrell 1996-99
8. 451 Michelle Bartsch 2008-11
9. 418 Erin Johnson 2009-

• 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 10th- and 17th-best crowds, respectively, of all-time at Huff Hall.

• After the first eight weeks of competition, the Illini rank sixth in the nation in home attendance, with an average of 3,069 fans per match.

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

• Including Wednesday's victory over Northwestern, the Illini have pulled a total of 20,790 fans over seven home matches in 2012, for an average of 2,970 per match, which is second only to the 1992 season, when the Illini set a then-NCAA record for season attendance.

• Illinois was 16-1 at home in 2011 and is 60-10 in front of the home crowd since the start of 2008. Nine of the 10 losses came to teams in the top 20, including three to No. 1 Penn State.

• 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.

Illinois' top all-time yearly attendance (by average)
    Total (Average)      Year         Record
1. 52,666 (3,098)         1992         16-1
2. 20,790 (2,970)         2012         3-4
3. 34,539 (2,657)         1993         11-3
4. 42,068 (2,475)         2011         16-1
5. 31,381 (2,414)         1996         8-5
6. 32,856 (2,347)         1995         10-4
7. 31,391 (2,242)         1991         13-1
8. 33,279 (2,108)         1988         16-0
9. 29,480 (2,106)         2009         14-1

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 lock-in promotion. To register or for more information, please contact Carrie Snyder in marketing at snyderc@illinois.edu or 217-333-6969.