Big Ten Freshman of the Week Jocelynn Birks needs 37 kills this week to become the 13th member of the Illinois 500-kill club.
Nov. 20, 2012
Northwestern Wildcats (16-13, 5-13 Big Ten)
Wednesday, Nov. 21 • 7 p.m. • Welsh-Ryan Arena • WDWS • WDAN
Iowa Hawkeyes (10-21, 2-16 Big Ten)
Saturday, Nov. 24 • 7 p.m. • Carver-Hawkeye Arena • WDWS • WDAN
ILLINI vs. THE WILDCATS
The Illini look for their 50th win over the Wildcats on Wednesday, earning a 49-27 overall record against Northwestern. Illinois is 20-10 all-time in Evanston. Illinois has won seven of the last eight matches against NU, including a 3-2 victory earlier this season on Oct. 17.
ILLINI vs. THE HAWKEYES
Illinois is 54-13 all-time against the Hawkeyes and 22-7 in Iowa City. Iowa is the only Big Ten team that the Illini did not host in 2012, but the Orange and Blue have won the last 12 matches in a row against the Hawkeyes, dating back to Nov., 2005.
LAST TIME OUT
The Orange and Blue closed out the home season in style with a 3-1 victory over Michigan on Senior Night. Jessica Jendryk and Tayler Onion both found themselves in the starting lineup for the first time, as Jendryk hit .571 with five kills and her first block assist and Onion tabbed two kills on three swings in the first set. Jocelynn Birks, who split time with Onion in the rotation, had a spectacular performance, tying her career high with 25 kills and adding 16 digs and two aces, an appearance which earned her her fourth Big Ten weekly award in Freshman of the Week.
BIRKS EARNS TWO BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK HONORS IN NOVEMBER
Jocelynn Birks was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Nov. 5 after leading the Illini to a 3-1 victory over Indiana. I marked the second time she was named Freshman of the Week, and the third Freshman of the Week honor for the Illini this season. Birks hit .392 against Indiana with 23 kills, five digs and four blocks, and had a double-double against No. 22 Purdue on Oct. 31 with 15 kills and 10 digs. Additionally, she tabbed a team-best four aces on the week, including three against the Boilermakers.
Birks earned her second honor in three weeks on Nov. 19, after averaging 5.22 kills per set against Michigan and Michigan State. She put up 22 kills and four blocks, two solo, against MSU, then registered a career-high 25 kills to go along with 16 digs and two aces against Michigan—while splitting time with Tayler Onion. Since the Big Ten began awarding Freshman of the Week in 2009, Birks is just the second Illini to earn at least three of the award, with Jennifer Beltran picking up four in 2010.
The Illini have found themselves in a tie-breaking fifth set 12 times this season. Nine of their 18 Big Ten matches have gone to five, and seven of their 12 home matches have needed five sets to establish a winner. Illinois is 4-8 overall, 3-6 in the Big Ten, and 2-5 at home in 5-set matches.
The 12 five-setters sets a new Illinois program record, topping the 2000 season when the Illini went 7-4 in 11 five-setters. The last time the Illini had double-digit 5-set matches was in 2007, when Illinois went 1-9 in the tie-breaking set. Illinois' record for 5-set wins in a season is seven, set in 2000 and matched in 2011 (7-0). The Illini's nine 5-set losses in 2007 were the most in school history.
ILLINOIS HAS SECOND-MOST WELL-ATTENDED SEASON
• 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.
• 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.
• Illinois played in front of over 2,000 fans in 21 of the 28 matches this season, including all 12 home matches. The Illini dazzled 3,000+ fans on seven occasions, five at home, and played in front of a crowd of 5,121 at Minnesota on Oct. 28.
• The Illini rank eighth in the nation in home attendance, with an average of 2,809 fans per match.
• Six of the top 10 teams attendance-wise are members of the Big Ten in Nebraska (2), Minnesota (3), Wisconsin (4), Penn State (5), Illinois (8) and Purdue (9).
• Illinois was 16-1 at home in 2011 and is 62-13 in front of the home crowd since the start of 2008. 11 of the 13 losses came to teams in the top 25, 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 HAS FORMIDABLE SCHEDULE
• 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 14 matches against teams ranked in this week’s top 25, having already played 15 matches against teams that were ranked at the time of the match. Those currently-ranked opponents are No. 1 Penn State, No. 3 Texas, No. 9 Louisville, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 13 Dayton, No. 14 Ohio State, No. 18 Iowa State and No. 22 Purdue. Additionally three of the Illini's opponents received votes in the most recent poll, in Michigan State (28th), Pepperdine (31st) and MIchigan (33rd).
• The Illini faced at least one ranked opponent in each of the first 12 weeks of the season. This past weekend marked the first time that the Orange and Blue did not face a ranked opponent, although both teams did receive votes. The Illini will close out the season at unranked Northwestern and Iowa.
• The Illini's schedule features four of the top five teams in the RPI, in #2 Penn State, #3 Texas, #4 Louisville and #5 Nebraska. The Illini went 1-4 against them, with a win at #3 Texas.
• Of Illinois' 18 opponents, five are in the RPI top 10, eight in the top 25, and 13 in the top 50. #177 UCF is the Illini's only non-conference opponent outside of the top 100.
• 15 of Illinois' 16 losses have come to teams in the RPI top 35, and five of the Illini's 12 wins were over top 50 teams, including a 3-2 victory at #3 Texas.