Match Notes: Illini Host No. 22 Purdue in 'Halloween at Huff'
Oct. 30, 2012
No. 22 Purdue Boilermakers (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten)
TV: Big Ten Network Mike Wolfe and Liz Tortorello Nelson
ILLINI vs. THE BOILERMAKERS
Illinois is 42-35 all-time against Purdue, 25-12 in Champaign-Urbana and 18-4 in Huff Hall.The Illini won the first 10 contests with the Boilermakers in Huff Hall along with the last four straight. The Orange and Blue have won seven of the last 10 matchups, but lost three of the last four, all on the road.
Illinois lost 3-2 at Purdue on Sept. 29, with set scores 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 10-25, 15-7. The Illini hit a season-best .370 with a season-high 73 kills, but too many errors in the fifth set led to the first of three-straight heartbreaking 5-set Big Ten losses. Jocelynn Birks and Ali Stark both recorded double-doubles, and Annie Luhrsen put up a season-best 62 assists, while the Illini out-blocked the Boilermakers 10-4.
LAST TIME OUT
The Orange and Blue struggled on the road this past weekend, falling 3-1 at Wisconsin and 3-0 at No. 10 Minnesota. The Illini took the first set from the Badgers, but lost the second. They were in position to win the third, but ended up falling 25-23, then dropped the fourth, 25-22. The Illini used both Viliunas and Luhrsen equally in the match. The experienced Luhrsen returned to the starting lineup at MInnesota for the first time since the Penn State match, and though the Illini had late leads in the second and third sets, Illiniois fell 3-0 (25-19, 26-24, 25-22).
ON THE BIG SCREEN
The Illini have appeared on local, regional and national television 145 times since 1988, compiling an 84-61 (.579) overall record. Nationally, Illinois is 33-28, including 7-10 on ESPN/ESPN2 and 10-12 on the Big Ten Network. The Illini are 1-4 on television this season, defeating Texas on the Longhorn Network, but losing to Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan on BTN and Nebraska on ESPN2.
CHANGING THE SET
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.
Viliunas and Luhrsen split time at Wisconsin on Oct. 26, with Viliunas starting the match and playing the majority of the first and third sets, and Luhrsen playing the second and fourth sets. Luhrsen returned to the starting lineup at Minnesota on Oct. 28. The Illini are 8-10 with Luhrsen starting and 2-2 when Viliunas starts.
ILLINOIS DROPS OUT OF RANKINGS
After 70 straight weeks in the AVCA Top 25, the Illini dropped out of the rankings on Oct. 22. The Orange and Blue used 2008 opening-weekend wins over No. 23 New Mexico State and No. 11 Oregon to jump into the rankings for the first time since 2004, where they remained for 70-straight polls until Oct. 22, 2012, when they fell to 29th with a total of 30 votes. The Illini were ranked No. 25 when they defeated Northwestern in five and fell to No. 4 Nebraska, 3-0, at home for their final week in the top 25.
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, 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 1,550 career digs.
Additionally, Beltran is the active leader in the Big Ten in career digs, and sits in 18th all time in the conference.
JOHNSON BREAKS INTO BLOCKING TOP TEN
Senior middle blocker Erin Johnson has become one of Illinois' best blockers in school history, tabbing 24 solo blocks and 407 assists for a total of 431 blocks. She is currently in sixth place all-time in block assists and ranks ninth in total blocks. She needs six block assists to move into fifth, and 20 total to catch up to Michelle Bartsch '11. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native is the only active Big Ten player with 400+ career blocks.
LUHRSEN EIGHTH ALL-TIME IN ASSISTS
Senior Annie Luhrsen ranks eighth all-time at the University of Illinois in career assists, with 2,421. She is one of just nine setters to reach the 2,000-mark at Illinois. The Wheaton, Ill., native registered an additional 1,165 assists her freshman year at UConn, bringing her combined career total to 3,586.
ILLINOIS HAS BEST FIRST WEEK CROWD
• 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.
• Through the first 10 weeks of competition, the Illini rank sixth in the nation in home attendance, with an average of 3,002 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 Illini have pulled a total of 24,012 fans over eight home matches in 2012, for an average of 3,002 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 60-11 in front of the home crowd since the start of 2008. 10 of the 11 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.