Head coach Kevin Hambly and the Illini take a 24-5 record in the NCAA Tournament.
Dec. 1, 2009
Champaign, Ill. -
Illini host NCAA First & Second Rounds
Illinois will serve as host to NCAA First & Second Round matches for this year's NCAA Tournament. The matches will be Thursday, Dec. 3 & 4 at Huff Hall.
The bracket: The NCAA seeds the top 16 national seeds then places them in sub-regionals based on geography. Illinois is the No. 5 overall national seed and the No. 2 seed in the Stanford Bracket. Stanford is the No. 4 overall national seed. The other two seeded teams in that Regional are No. 12 Hawaii and No. 13 Michigan.
The schedule: Illinois (24-5) meets IPFW (20-11) at 7 p.m. Thursday night. Dayton (29-3) faces Milwaukee (16-14) in the first match of the night at 4:30 p.m. The winners of those matches square off in the second round on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Advancement: The winners advance to the Regional in Stanford, Calif., which is Dec. 11-12. The Regional Championship will be at 10:30 p.m. CT on Dec. 12 and broadcast live on ESPNU. The Final Four is Dec. 17 & 19 in Tampa Fla., which will be aired on ESPN2.
Radio: The Illinois matches will be aired live on WDWS (AM-1400) and WDAN (AM-1490) with Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Trame (analyst) on the call.
Video Streaming: All three matches in Champaign will be streamed live on fightingillini.com.
Tickets: All session tickets for this week's matches in Champaign are currently on sale. Reserved tickets are $12, general admission tickets are $10, and student/youth tickets are $6. They can be purchased at the Athletic Ticket Office or by calling 866-Illini-1. Single-session tickets will be sold only at the door and are $7 for general admission and $5 for student/youth.
Illinois history: Illinois is making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. The ninth-seeded Illini advanced to their 10th Sweet 16 a year ago, defeating Milwaukee and Cincinnati at Huff Hall before falling to No. 8 California in the Regional Semifinal. The Illini have a 23-17 all-time record in the tournament, reaching the Final Four in both 1987 and 1988. Illinois is hosting NCAA Tournament matches for the 12th time and holds an 18-3 record in home tournament matches.
Illinois in the rankings: Illinois is ranked eighth in this week's AVCA Coaches Poll and No. 7 in the Volleyball Magazine Top 20. The Illini have been ranked every week this year and are ranked in the Top 10 for the eighth consecutive week. They were at No. 5 for the past four weeks.
More on Illinois' overall season
Illinois wrapped up second place in the Big Ten, marking the best Big Ten finish for the Illini since tying for second in 2003. It is the first time Illinois has finished in sole possession of second since 1985. The Illini won Big Ten titles in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1992.
Only a handful of Illinois teams have had better regular seasons than the 2009 version of the Illini. Only the 1985 (38-2), 1986 (34-2), 1988 (27-3), and 1992 teams (30-3) lost five or fewer during the regular season.
Making a return trip
Milwaukee is playing in NCAA action in Champaign for the second straight season. The Panthers played Illinois in the first round a year ago, falling 25-8, 25-16, 25-20.
The Panthers are playing in Huff for the third time in four years, having participated in the 2006 State Farm Illini Classic. The Panthers went 1-2 in the tournament. Illinois is 4-0 all-time vs. Milwaukee, including a straight sets victory that year.
More Series Notes
Dayton is also familiar with the Illini, having met Illinois in the last three seasons. The Flyers came back from two match points to defeat the Illini in five sets in the Championship of the Dayton Flyer Classic in 2007 then took care of the Illini in five sets last year at the Tennessee Comcast Classic. The Illini won in four sets in 2006 and hold a 4-3 series advantage.
Illinois is 1-0 all-time against IPFW, having defeated the Mastodons 30-23, 30-19, 30-18 at the 2007 Dayton Flyer Classic.
Ten Opponents in Tournament
Illinois is one of six teams from the Big Ten in the tournament. Penn State, which is riding a 96-match winning, is the No. 1 overall seed and will be searching for its third straight national title. Minnesota (24-8), which also hosts a Regional, is the tournament's overall No. 11 seed. No. 13 Michigan (24-9) hosts Niagara while Ohio State (24-9) hosts Cincinnati in first-round Michigan State (17-15) travels to Lexington, Ky., and plays Kentucky as part of the Minneapolis Regional. A total of 10 Illinois opponents made the field, including Florida State, which earned the overall No. 3 seed. Besides FSU and the five other Big Ten schools, 2009 foes Cincinnati, Ohio, Saint Louis and Louisville all advanced to the NCAA Tournament.