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    Volleyball Match Notes for NCAA Regional
    Liz McMahon has had two strong games against Ohio State this year.

    Liz McMahon has had two strong games against Ohio State this year.

    Complete Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader | NCAA Tournament Central |

    Illinois heads to NCAA Regional

    For the fourth straight year and 13th time in school history, Illinois is heading to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The Illini won matches with Central Michigan and Marquette in straight sets at Huff Hall sending the Illini to the Gainesville, Fla., Regional. Illinois will meet fellow Big Ten member Ohio State on Friday with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship match against either host Florida or Michigan.

    Site: O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.

    Game Times: No. 3 Illinois (29-4) vs. Ohio State (21-14), 4 pm CT Friday; Michigan (22-12) vs. Florida (26-5), 6 pm CT Friday; Winners meet at 6 pm CT Saturday.

    Live video: The semifinal matches will be shown live on espn3.com with the final shown live on ESPNU. Sam Gore and Maria Taylor will be on the call.

    Live stats: Available via gametracker on fightingillini.com by proceeding to the volleyball schedule page or through the interactive bracket at ncaa.com

    Live audio: Illinois games will be aired on WDWS (AM-1400) with Dave Loane and Mike Trame on the call.

    Blog: Mike Koon will be providing a live blog via fightingillini.com throughout the tournament.

    Tickets: All-session tickets are available through gatorzone.com or by calling 800-344-2867.

    Practice Day Thursday: All four teams will hold an open practice for fans at the O'Connell Center. Illinois will practice from 12:15-1:45 ET.

    Gainesville, NCAA has Big Ten flavor

    The Big Ten led all conferences with eight teams receiving bids into the tournament. The league backed that up by advancing six teams into the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Big Ten teams went 8-0 in the first round and 6-2 in the second round for a combined 14-2 mark so far in the tournament.
    • Of the eight teams, only Big Ten champion Nebraska and Michigan State failed to reach the second weekend.
    • The Gainesville site has three of the six Big Ten teams left with Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan. Fifth-seeded Purdue and 13th-seeded Minnesota could meet in the regional final at Minneapolis while eighth-seeded Penn State meets UCLA at the Kentucky Regional.

    Illinois Tournament history

    Illinois is participating in its 20th NCAA Tournament in its history with this being Illinois' 13 Sweet appearance. The last time Illinois reached the Regional Final was 1992 and the Illini were in the Final Four in both 1987 and 1988.
    • This is the fourth straight year that Illinois has been a national seed and the highest for the Illini since seeding began in 1998. The Illini were the No. 9 seed in 2008, the No. 5 seed in 2009 and the No. 8 seed in 2010. Illinois has reached the Sweet 16 in 1985, `86, `87, `88, `89, `92, `95, `98, 2003, `08, `09, `10 and `11.

    Illini, Buckeyes have tournament history

    This will mark the third time that Illinois and Ohio State have met in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini defeated Ohio State in four sets in the 1989 regional semfinal in Lincoln, Neb. Illinois topped OSU in straight sets in the 1992 first round at Huff Hall.
    • Illinois is 3-1 all-time against Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament, having defeated Penn State in the 1988 First Round at Kenney Gym and lost to Wisconsin in the 1990 Mideast First Round at Madison, Wis.

    Other Illinois-Ohio State Series Notes

    • Illinois has a 34-36 overall record against Ohio State and has won eight straight against the Buckeyes.
    • Illinois defeated Ohio State in straight sets in Columbus earlier this year thanks to a hot offensive night. The Illini were especially potent in the second set, hitting .633 with a whopping 19 kills.
    • Illinois defeated OSU 25-18, 24-26, 26-24, 25-17 in Champaign. The Illini hit .390 in the victory.
    • In the two wins over the Buckeyes, Illinois hit a combined .371 while Ohio State hit just .235. The Illini has also out-blocked the Buckeyes, 21-11.
    • Freshman Liz McMahon was particularly potent against her home state school, hitting .513 with 23 kills and six blocks combined in the two victories.

    Illini make return trip to Gainesville

    Illinois is playing in Gainesville for the third time in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini lost to eventual national runner-up Texas in straight sets in the 1995 regional semifinal round. The Illini also played in the NCAA first and second rounds there in 1999, defeating UW-Milwaukee in four sets before dropping a heartbreaking five-set match to fourth-ranked Florida.

    Ward returns to former collegiate home

    Illinois senior All-American Colleen Ward transferred to Illinois after playing her first two years at Florida. Ward amassed 559 kills and 330 digs in two years with the Gators. She ranked 10th in the Southeastern Conference in kills (3.09 per set) and was named to the all-tournament teams at both the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational and the 31st Community Bankers Classic in 2009. She was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in 2008 and helped the Gators to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

    Illinois-Michigan Series Notes

    The Illini have seven victories in the last eight tries against Michigan and boast a 43-19 record in the all-time series against the Wolverines.
    • Illinois won both meetings with the Wolverines this year, doing so in four sets each time. Colleen Ward has 21 kills and hit .419 while Liz McMahon had 13 kills and hit .545 in the win in Ann Arbor. The Illini out-hit the Wolverines .361-.190 and won the blocking battle 12-2. Michelle Bartsch had 20 kills in the victory in Champaign.

    Illinois-Florida Notes

    The Illini are 3-4 all-time against Florida and are 2-2 in Gainesville. Illinois won the first three matches in the series with the Gators claiming the last four. The teams last met in the opening weekend of the 2002 season, a 3-0 victory by Florida.

    Offense comes alive late in the year

    The Illini have turned up the wick offensively late in the year. Since Nov. 11, Illinois is 7-1 and have hit a combined .315. The Illini have hit over .300 against six of the eight opponents -- Penn State (.340), Ohio State (.390), Michigan (.361), Iowa (.407), Central Michigan (.360) and Marquette (.311).

    Balance highlights early rounds

    • In victories over Central Michigan and Marquette, the Illini had a balanced attack, Michelle Bartsch combined for 20 kills in the two matches (hitting .264), while Colleen Ward (.321) has 19, Liz McMahon 14 (.407) and Erin Johnson 10 (.435)
    • The Illini out-blocked their first two opponents 25.5-5, paced by 13 blocks from Erin Johnson.

    Illinois plays competitive schedule

    Illinois played 21 matches against 14 teams who advanced to the tournament, including a tournament-leading eight from the Big Ten. The Big 12 and the Pac-12 each advanced seven teams to the post-season. Of those eight Big Ten teams, five received national seeds, including three in the top five - No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Illinois, No. 5 Purdue, No. 8 Penn State and No. 13 Minnesota. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State also received at-large bids. The other Illinois opponents who made the field were Dayton, Louisville, Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, and Tulsa.

    Illinois to host NCAA Regional in 2013

    Illinois will host an NCAA Regional in 2013 at Assembly Hall. Other 2013 Regional hosts are USC, Kentucky and Florida with the finals in Seattle.
    • In 2012, NCAA Regional sites will be Nebraska, Purdue, California and Texas with the finals in Louisville.
    • In 2014, NCAA Regionals will be in Minnesota, Washington, Iowa State and Louisville with the finals in Oklahoma City.

    Illinois leads final regular season RPI

    Illinois finishes the regular season No. 1 in RPI. Here are the top 10 plus Illinois opponents:
    	Team	Record
    1.	Illinois	27-4
    2.	Texas	22-4
    3.	Iowa State	22-5
    4.	Nebraska	24-4
    5.	UNI	32-1
    6.	Purdue	27-4
    7.	Hawaii	29-1
    8.	USC	25-4
    9.	Tennessee	27-3
    10.	Florida State	24-6
    11.	Penn State	23-7
    12.	Minnesota	18-11
    19.	Cincinnati	26-9
    20.	Florida	24-5
    23.	Michigan	20-12
    24.	Tulsa	27-6
    36.	Dayton	25-6
    37.	Michigan State	21-11
    38.	Louisville	23-8
    40.	Marquette	23-10
    45.	Middle Tennessee	21-11
    48.	Ohio State	19-14
    53.	UC-Santa Barbara	19-12
    55.	St. Mary's	17-12
    58.	Wisconsin	16-16
    59.	BYU	21-9
    61.	Houston	19-11
    74.	Central Michigan	19-13
    81.	Northwestern	16-15
    104.	Cal Poly	12-17
    143.	Indiana	9-23
    144.	Iowa	11-22
    

    Illini Remain No. 7 in Coaches Poll

    Illinois checked in at No. 7 in the AVCA Coaches poll for the third week in a row. The Illini have spent the entire season inside the top eight, including four weeks at No. 1 -- Sept. 26-Oct. 17.
    • USC remained atop the poll after becoming the sixth different team to be ranked No. 1 this year a week ago. Illinois has been at the top spot for the most weeks. The Women of Troy, Penn State, California, Illinois, Nebraska and UCLA have all spent time in the top spot.
    • Despite seeing Ohio State drop out, the Big Ten still boasted six teams inside the top 25, including four of the top nine -- No. 2 Nebraska, No. 7 Illinois, No. 8 Purdue, No. 9 Penn State, No. 19 Minnesota and No. 22 Michigan. Non-conference foe Tennessee is No. 15 with Ohio State, Dayton, Michigan State, Tulsa, and Cincinnati receiving votes.

    Best Seasons in School History

    Illinois has a 29-4 overall record, in the midst of one its best seasons ever. Here is a look at the seasons with the fewest losses in school history:
    1985 -- 39-3
    1986 -- 36-3
    1988 -- 30-4
    1992 -- 32-4
    2009 -- 26-6
    1987 -- 31-7
    2003 -- 26-7
    1989 -- 27-8
    2008 -- 26-8
    

    >Illini creating quite a home court edge

    • The Illini rank 10th in the nation in home attendance at 2,475. The Illini had their second biggest crowd in Huff History with 4,261 vs. Purdue on Oct. 1, a night after drawing 3,108 vs. Indiana.
    • A crowd of 4,021 saw Illinois defeat Michigan State. That marked the first time since 1992 that the Illini have had two crowds of 4,000-plus in the same season. Capacity crowd at Huff is listed at 4,050.
    • Illinois was 16-1 at home in 2011 and 57-6 in front of the home crowd the past four years. Two of the losses have come to No. 1 Penn State.
    • In the years the Illini have qualified for the NCAA Tournament, they have a 258-47 home record (.846).
    • With the victories over C. Michigan and Marquette, Illinois is 22-3 all-time at home during the NCAA Tournament with the only losses coming to Stanford in the 1992 Regional Final, Ball State in the 1994 first round and Arizona in the 2001 second round.

    NCAA Attendance Leaders

    Team	Total	Dates	Avg.
    1	Hawaii	146,418	22	6,655
    2	Nebraska	72,355	16	4,522
    3	Wisconsin	49,281	13	3,791
    4	Minnesota	50,885	14	3,635
    5	Penn St.	54,009	17	3,177
    6	Texas	41,102	15	2,740
    7	Florida	44,116	17	2,595
    8.	Washington	33,187	13	2,553
    9.	Wichita St.	27,797	11	2,527
    10.	Illinois	42,068	17	2,475
    

    Illinois top all-time volleyball crowds

    		Opponent	Date
    1. 	7,632	Minnesota*	10/16/2009
    2.	4,316	Stanford$	12/11/1992
    3.	4,261	Purdue	10/1/2011
    4.	4,211	Ohio State$	12/3/1992
    5.	4,141	Penn State	9/24/2010
    6.	4,050	Ohio State	10/18/1991
    	4,050	Penn State	11/27/1992
    8.	4,021	Michigan St.	10/15/2011
    9.	3,905	Penn State	11/11/2011
    10.	3,513	Michigan St.	10/24/1992
    11.	3,497	Penn State	10/15/1993
    12.	3,419	Purdue	11/13/1992
    13.	3,391	Ohio State	11/12/2011
    14.	3,386	Michigan	10/23/1992
    15.	3,269	Indiana	11/14/1992
    $ NCAA Tourney; * At Assembly Hall
    

    Illinois' top all-time yearly volleyball attendance

    	Total (Average)	Year	Record
    1.	52,666 (3,098)	1992	16-1
    2.	34,539 (2,657)	1993	11-3
    3.	42,068 (2,475)	2011	16-1
    4.	31,381 (2,414)	1996	8-5
    5.	32,856 (2,347)	1995	10-4
    6.	31,391 (2,242)	1991	13-1
    7.	33,279 (2,108)	1988	16-0
    8.	29,480 (2,106)	2009	14-1
    9.	30,646 (2,043)	2010	14-1
    

    Beltran Surpasses 1,000 Digs Mark

    Jennifer Beltran became just the 10th Illinois player to tally 1,000 career digs. She set the single-season record with 623 last year and now has 1,073 for her career.
    • The 35 digs by Beltran at Purdue ranks as the most by a Big Ten player in a single match this season and tied the fourth-most digs by an Illinois player in school history. The feat came in only four sets, making it the most in program history by an Illini in a four-set match.

    Illinois career digs list

    1. 	1,921	Ashley Edinger	2006-09
    2.	1,426	Tracey Marshall	1996-99
    3.	1,393	Mary Coleman	1995-98
    4.	1,346 	Lauren Harks	2001-04
    5.	1,172	Beth Vrdsky	2003-06
    6.	1,133	Sandy Scholtens	1985-88
    7.	1,117	Laura DeBruler	2007-10
    8.	1,097	Jennifer Beltran	2010-
    9.	1,092	Mary Eggers	1985-88
    10.	1,003	Petra Laverman	1988-90
    

    Illinois single-season digs list

    1.	623	Jennifer Beltran	2010
    2.	564	Ashley Edinger	2007
    3.	562	Ashley Edinger	1008
    4.	520	Beth Vrdsky	2005
    5.	488	Ashley Edinger	2006
    6.	474	Jennifer Beltran	2011
    7.	465	Tracey Marshall	1998
    8.	413	Michelle Bartsch	2011
    9.	396	Erin Borske	1995
    10. 393	Lauren Harks	2003
    

    Bartsch Moving Up Career Charts

    Michelle Bartsch is seventh on Illinois' all-time kills list with 1,570. Bartsch is also second in career attack attempts with 4,511.

    Illinois career kills list

    1.	1,833	Laura DeBruler	2007-10
    2.	1,761	Mary Eggers	1985-88
    3.	1,707	Mary Coleman	1995-98
    4.	1,678	Rachel VanMeter	2002-05
    5.	1,669	Nancy Brookhart	1986-89
    6.	1,657	Tracey Marshall	1996-99
    7.	1,570	Michelle Bartsch	2008-11
    8.	1,484	Bridget Boyle	1986-89
    9.	1,245	Betsy Spicer	1997-00
    10.	1,228	Shadia Haddad	1998-01
    

    Illinois career attack attempts list

    1.	4,806	Laura DeBruler	2007-10
    2.	4,564	Michelle Bartsch	2008-11
    	4,511	Rachel VanMeter	2002-05
    4.	4,374	Mary Coleman	1995-98
    5.	4,208	Tracey Marshall	1996-99
    6.	3,480	Bridget Boyle	1986-89
    7.	3,417	Mary Eggers	1985-88
    8.	3,329	Nancy Brookhart	1986-89
    9.	3,297	Shadia Haddad	1998-01
    10.	3,055	Kylie McCulley	2006-09
    

    Ranked Foes All Over the Schedule

    Illinois is 9-3 against ranked opponents so far this year. The Illini had a nine-week stretch in which the Orange and Blue played at least one ranked opponent each week.

    Dorn third among freshmen in blocks

    Anna Dorn is third in the nation in blocks among freshmen behind only Katie Dutchman of Northwestern (1.39 per set) and Katie O'Brien of Portland State (1.35). Currently Dorn is 31st overall in the country and third in the Big Ten at 1.29 blocks per set.
    • The Illini are 25th in blocks at 2.65 per set and 19th in hitting percentage (.260).
    Annie Luhrsen ranks 33rd nationally in assists (11.08).

    Luhrsen earns Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week

    Illinois setter Annie Luhrsen has been named the final Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week of the 2011 season. Luhrsen engineered an offense that hit .326 in posting victories over Northwestern and Iowa.

    The Wheaton, Ill., native averaged 13.7 assists per set for the week, posting 43 in a straight sets win over Northwestern and 53 in a four-set win over Iowa. She helped the Illini hit .407 vs. the Hawkeyes.

    Luhrsen ranks third in the Big Ten and 29th nationally in assists per set at 11.13. She holds the top two assists totals in a match by a Big Ten player this year with 68 and 66 against Dayton and Tulsa, respectively. She is the third Illini to win the honor this year, joining middle blocker Anna Dorn, who won it on Oct. 10, and Erin Johnson, who won it Sept. 26.

    Ward, Bartsch Post 20-20 Matches

    Colleen Ward had 20 kills and 20 digs while hitting .283 in just three sets as Illinois defeated Northwestern on Oct. 19. That performance comes after amassing 22 kills while hitting .538 in a five-set victory over Michigan St.
    • The fact that it came in a three-set match made that all the more impressive. That has only happened three other times -- by Erin Borske (20 kills, 23 digs) vs. Minnesota on 10/21/95), Tracey Marshall (29 kills, 21 digs) vs. Louisville (9/13/96) and Tina Rogers (32 kills, 22 digs) vs. Southwest Missouri State on 12/1/93.
    • That marked the third 20-20 performance by an Illinois player in a match. Michelle Bartsch had a pair of such matches in back-to-back days at the State Farm Illini Classic.
    • Bartsch had 21 kills and 23 digs vs. Tennessee and 24 kills and 20 digs vs. No. 21 Dayton. Prior to that there were only two 20-20 matches by an Illini in the past nine years, both coming in 2008 (Laura DeBruler and Kylie McCulley).
    • Bartsch is just the sixth Illini with multiple 20-20 matches, joining Erin Borske (four times), Mary Coleman (six), Petra Laverman (four), Tracey Marshall (six) and Kelly Scherr (two). Two others did so back-to-back nights (Laverman and Coleman).

    Illinois against Top-10 Teams

    For the third-straight season, the Illini have defeated two top-10 opponents on the schedule, now with three top-10 wins overall. Illinois has seven wins over top-10 teams in the last three years -- #6 Michigan and #6 Minnesota in 2009, #2 Texas and #2 Penn State in 2010 and #9 Minnesota, #8 Penn State and #9 Penn State this year. That surpasses the combined total of top-10 wins from the previous 16 seasons, as Illinois had six top-10 wins from 1993-2008.

    Winning Five-Set Matches

    Illinois is 6-0 in five-set matches this season. In the first two contests that went the distance, the Illini won after dropping the first two sets, defeating Dayton to win the State Farm Illini Classic and bettering Tulsa to take the Middle Tennessee Invitational. A week later, the Illini out-lasted Louisville, another team receiving votes in the poll, in five sets. Illinois also owns two five-set wins on the road during Big Ten play with victories over Minnesota and Penn State after losing the first set. Illinois took the first two sets from Michigan State, only to have battle to a fifth set to defeat the Spartans.
    • Last year Illinois played nine matches that went the distance, posting a 5-4 mark in those matches, winning five straight at one point.

    Near Record Crowd See Illini Top Boilers

    A crowd of 4,261 attended the Illini's match against Purdue and an additional 500 people were turned away at the door. The mark was the second largest crowd in Huff Hall history for volleyball. The record of 4,316 was set on Dec. 11, 1992 when the Illini fell to Stanford in the NCAA Regional Final. Huff Hall has undergone some renovations and that has meant a loss in seats in the north balcony. Were it not for that, it most certainly would have been the record.
    • Illinois has had five crowds of 3,000 or more during the last two years, including a sellout of 4,141 vs. Penn State on Sept. 24, 2010 and 3,108 in the Illini's win over Indiana on Sept. 30.
    • The largest home volleyball crowd in school history was 7,632 when the Illini defeated Minnesota in the Assembly Hall on Oct. 16, 2009.

    Big Ten honors four Illini with postseason honors

    For the second year in a row, Illinois senior outside hitters Michelle Bartsch and Colleen Ward have been named All-Big Ten. Right side hitter Liz McMahon was named to the All-Freshman team while senior defensive specialist Rachel Feldman was Illinois' representative on the conference's Sportsmanship Team.

    Bartsch earned MVP honors for three tournaments - the BYU/Nike Invitational, the State Farm Illini Classic and the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. She ranks seventh on the Illinois career kills list with 1,550 and is tied for second in career attacks with 4,511. Her 398 digs this season are the eighth most by an Illinois player in a single-season. Bartsch, who was named Big Ten co-Player of the Week on Sept. 26, became just the sixth Illinois player with multiple 20-20 performances when she did so in back-to-back days (vs. Tennessee and Dayton). The Maryville, Ill., native ranks sixth in the Big Ten in both kills (3.86 per set) and points (4.42 per set).

    Ward also has topped the 1,500 kills mark for her career, combining her numbers at both Florida and Illinois. She was named to the all-tournament team at both the BYU/Nike Invitational and the State Farm Illini Classic. She has had double-digits in kills in 27 of 31 matches with 18 double-doubles. Ward ranks seventh in the conference in kills at 3.66 per set and eighth in the league in points (4.10). The Naperville, Ill., native had 20 kills and 20 digs in a straight sets victory over Northwestern, marking just the second time in Illinois history that a player has had a 20-20 performance in a three-set match.

    McMahon was named to the all-tournament team at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge and had 25 kills and 14 blocks while hitting .426 at the Middle Tennessee State Invitational. She is hitting .281 with 209 kills and 102 blocks in her freshman campaign. She had a career-high 20 kills and seven blocks while hitting .576 in the five-set win at Louisville and a career-best 11 block assists in the win against No. 20 Michigan.

    Feldman has been a three-year regular at libero and defensive specialist, playing in 84 career matches for the Illini. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten performer has 561 career digs. She has saved her best performances for the post-season, posting a season-best 13 digs vs. Cincinnati in the NCAA second round a year ago and setting an Illini record for digs in an NCAA match when she tallied 26 in a second round win over Dayton in 2009.

    Illinois Sweeps Season Series from Penn State for First Time Ever

    Illinois won the season series from Penn State for the first time in school history. After enduring nearly a three-hour match in topping the Nittany Lions in five sets at State College, the Illini took care of Penn State in three sets in Champaign.
    • Illinois became the first Big Ten team to sweep the season series against PSU since 2001, when Ohio State accomplished the feat.

    Signees Mayers and Viliunas Named All-America

    Both Illinois recent signees, 6-4 middle blocker Maddie Mayers (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger H.S.) and 6-0 setter Alexis Viliunas (LaGrange, Ill./Lyons Township H.S.) have been named to the Sixth Annual Under Armour High School All-America Second Team. The All-America list announced by the American Volleyball Coaches Association includes 24 players on each the first and second teams and 52 players named honorable mention. Both Viliunas and Mayers are also ranked in the top 80 of the class according to prepvolleyball.com.

    Viliunas is ranked 34th in prepvolleyball.com's list of Senior Aces. A four-year starter Lyons Township, she led the Lions to the 2010 IHSA Class 4A state title. This season, Viliunas had 272 kills, 37 blocks, 278 digs, 551 assists and 43 aces for a team that reached the supersectional round of the tournament. She holds the school's career assist record with over 2,100. Viliunas was named all-state special mention by the Chicago Tribune in both 2009 and 2010 and second team all-state by both the Champaign News-Gazette and the Chicago Sun-Times both years. She is a three-time Suburban Life All-Area performer, playing for coach Joann Pyritz.

    Playing for 1st Alliance (coached by Sue Keck), Viliunas helped the 18U team to third place at the AAU 18 Open Nationals, winning the AAU All-America award for the division. She was named an AAU All-American in 2009 and 2010, helping the 17U team to fifth place at the USAV Nationals 17 Open Division in 2010 and third place at AAU Nationals in 2009. Viliunas was also selected to the USA Select Team. Her brother, Eddie, is a tight end on the Illinois football team.

    Mayers, who is ranked 76th in prepvolleyball's list of Senior Aces, was named to first team All-Northeast Indiana the last two seasons and first team All-Summit Athletic Conference for three straight years, playing for John Minnick. The Saints won the pre-season SAC championship during her first three seasons in high school, also claiming the SAC title in 2009. During her senior season, Mayers had a .500 attack percentage with 276 kills, 87 blocks, 84 digs and 45 aces.

    Team Loaded with Top 60 Talent

    The Illini have 11 players on the roster who were top 60 products in their respective classes. Liz McMahon, the No 3 player inteh class is the highest ranked recruit in school history. McMahon (No. 3 in the class), Jocelynn Birks (26), Morganne Criswell (33) and Ali Stark (53) joins middle blocker Anna Dorn (6), outside hitter Colleen Ward (7), outside hitter Michelle Bartsch (16), outside hitter Jazmine Orozco (33), outside hitter Jessica Jendryk (45), middle blocker Erin Johnson (57) and libero Jennifer Bonilla (60) as top 60 players.

    Dorn Honored by Big Ten after Tying Block Assist School Record

    Anna Dorn was named Big Ten Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week on Oct. 10, earning her first career conference honors following stellar performances at Ohio State and Penn State. The Munster, Ind., native recorded 13 block assists against PSU, matching the school record held by Kellie Hebeisen and Johannah Bangert, who did it twice. It also ranks as the most blocks by a Big Ten player in a single match this season.

    Illinois single-match block assists list

    1.	13	Anna Dorn	10/8/11
    		Johannah Bangert	10/23/09
    		Johannah Bangert	10/9/09
    		Kellie Hebeisen	9/14/91
    5.	12	Johannah Bangert	8/30/08
    		Shelly O'Bryan	11/30/02
    		Paula Prentice	10/4/96
    

    Illini Boast Nation's Third Ranked Recruiting Class

    Illinois' 2011 four-person class is ranked No. 3 nationally by prepvolleyball.com, coming on the heels of the fifth-rated class in 2010. The members of the Class of 2007, who just completed their Illinois careers, were the sixth-best in the nation.

    Illinois is ranked behind only Texas and four-time defending national champion Penn State. The Illini went 1-1 against both teams a year ago. Rounding out the top 10 are Washington, UCLA, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pepperdine and USC. The Big Ten has six total teams in the top 30 - Illinois (3), Wisconsin (7), Nebraska (13), Purdue (14), Ohio State (24) and Minnesota (30).

    Who is That at Libero?

    Fans may recognize the face, but not the name at libero. Playing last year as Jennifer Bonilla, her birth name, the Reseda, Calif., native changed her name to Jennifer Beltran right before the season. Beltran grew up in a tough area of Los Angeles and befriended her kindergarten teacher Gustavo Beltran, who got her on the right path and into volleyball. Over time, the young then Bonilla began living with Gustavo and his wife Virna and eventually adopted them as her parents. For the complete story visit http://www.fightingillini.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/090910aac.html.
    • Beltran was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last year and set the Illinois single-season digs record with 623.

    Big Ten honors Bartsch, Johnson

    Michelle Bartsch was named the Big Ten co-Player of the Week on Sept. 26, marking the second such honor this season for the senior from Maryville, Ill. Bartsch had a pair of double-doubles with 23 kills and 10 digs in a five-set victory at No. 9 Minnesota and 10 kills and 10 digs in a three-set triumph at Wisconsin. Bartsch shared the honor with Gina Mancuso of Nebraska.

    Junior middle blocker Erin Johnson was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26. Johnson hit .435 with 11 kills and a career-high 10 blocks in the win over Minnesota and earns the honor for the first time in her career. Johnson ranks third in the conference in hitting percentage at .387, which is on pace to rank among the best in school history for a single season.

    Bartsch earns third tournament MVP

    Michelle Bartsch earned MVP honors at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. That marked her third MVP honor of the season, also claiming that distinction at the BYU/Nike Invitational and the State Farm Illini Classic. Bartsch had 22 kills and 20 digs combined in victories over Cincinnati and Louisville.
    • Illinois won its 21st State Farm Illini Classic in the 28-year history of the event. The Illini now have a 61-7 all-time record in the history of the tournament.

    Illini win State Farm Illini Classic

    • For the third time in the last eight years, the championship match against a ranked opponent went five sets and for the third time Illinois claimed the victory. Spotting 21st-ranked Dayton (4-2) a two-set advantage, the Illini stormed back for an 18-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-12 victory in a match that didn't end until nearly 11 pm.
    Erin Johnson and Colleen Ward joined Bartsch on the all-tournament team. Johnson hit .324 with 32 kills and 11 blocks for the tournament. Ward hit .241 with 49 kills, 42 digs and six blocks.

    Bartsch earns State Farm Illini Classic MVP

    Michelle Bartsch was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Sept. 5 after earning MVP honors at the State Farm Illini Classic.

    Bartsch became just the third Illinois player with a 20-20 performance since 2002 and the first in three seasons when she tallied 21 kills and 23 digs in a four-set victory over Tennessee on Friday night. It didn't take her long to repeat the feat, with 24 kills and 20 digs the following night in a thrilling five-set comeback win over Dayton to help Illinois to its sixth straight State Farm Illini Classic title. Bartsch nearly made it three straight 20-20s with 19 kills and 16 digs in a four-set victory over Houston Saturday morning, despite being subbed for several rotations in the third set.

    • Bartsch was named the MVP of the BYU/Nike Invitational. Bartsch and Ward each had 40 kills in three victories Bartsch had nine of her 13 blocks in the victory over St. Mary's and had 34 digs for the tournament. Ward added 32 digs in the 10 sets.

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