Women's Volleyball
Illini Sweet 16 Notes

Rachel Feldman set an Illinois record for digs in an NCAA match with 26 vs. Dayton.
Rachel Feldman set an Illinois record for digs in an NCAA match with 26 vs. Dayton.

Dec. 8, 2009


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Illini reach NCAA Sweet 16: Illinois advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 with victories over IPFW and Dayton at Huff Hall. The Illini, the fifth seed in the tournament, will meet 12th-seeded Hawaii in the Stanford Regional Semifinal on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. CT. No. 4 Stanford plays No. 13 Michigan in the other match-up. The winners play at 10:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU for the right to advance to the Final Four.

Illinois tournament history: Illinois reaches the Sweet 16 for the 11th time in school history. This is the first time that the Illini have reached the round in back-to-back seasons since advancing five straight times from 1985-89.

Illinois vs. Hawaii: Illinois is 1-7 all-time against Hawaii with the only victory over the Rainbow Wahine coming in three sets at the 1992 Hawaii Invitational.
• This will mark the fourth time that Illinois and Hawaii have met in the NCAA Tournament. Hawaii defeated Illinois 3-0 in the 1987 National Semifinal at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. The Rainbow Wahine and Illini met again a year later in the Final Four with Hawaii prevailing, 3-1. Illinois traveled to the islands for the 2003 Sweet 16 and the 15th-seeded Illini fell to No. 2 Hawaii in three sets.

More on Hawaii: Hawaii brings a 30-2 record into the Regional Semifinal. The Rainbow Wahine's only two losses came to No. 2 Texas in four sets on Sept. 5 and No. 10 California in five sets on Sept. 6. Since then they have rattled off 28 straight wins. Hawaii also holds wins over No. 9 UCLA and No. 19 Saint Louis.
• Hawaii finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the coaches' poll. However, a No. 22 RPI rating kept the Rainbow Wahine from a higher seed.
• Hawaii is outside dominated with 5-11 outside hitter Kanani Danielson (.337) and 5-11 right side hitter Aneli Cubi-Otineru (.305) each hitting over .300.
Illinois history: Illinois is making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. The ninth-seeded Illini have advanced to their 11th Sweet 16 and have a 25-17 all-time record in the tournament, reaching the Final Four in both 1987 and 1988. Illinois hosted NCAA Tournament matches for the 12th time last weekend and holds a 20-3 record in home tournament matches.
• Illinois has played in five Regional Finals (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1992), winning two (1987, 1988).

Illinois-Stanford history: Illinois is 0-5 all-time vs. Stanford. The Illini and Cardinal met in an epic Regional Final at Huff Hall in 1992. In front of a Huff Hall record crowd of 4,316, the second-seeded Cardinal defeated No. 6 Illinois 17-15, 15-6, 17-15, 15-10 en route to winning the national title.
• Stanford and Illinois met last year at the Saint Louis Billiken Invitational with the Cardinal prevailing 25-15, 25-22, 25-22. The next day, Stanford fell to Saint Louis.

Illinois-Michigan history: Illinois leads the all-time series with Michigan, 40-18. The Illini have won six straight vs. the Wolverines, including a pair of matches this year.
• Michigan and Illinois have played some thrilling matches in recent years with three of the last six wins coming in five sets and two more in four sets.

Radio: The Illinois matches will be aired live on WDWS (AM-1400) and WDAN (AM-1490) with Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst) on the call.

TV: ESPNU will provide live coverage of all four regional finals with the Stanford Regional Final being carried live at 10:30 pm CT Saturday night. Anne Marie Anderson (play-by-play) and Cathy Nelson (analyst) are on the call.

Tickets: All session tickets for this week's matches can be purchased by going to gostanford.com. All session tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

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.

Ten Opponents in Tournament
Illinois is one of six teams from the Big Ten in the tournament four of which are still alive. Penn State, which is riding a 98-match winning, is the No. 1 overall seed and play No. 16 Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Minnesota (26-8), which also hosts a Regional, facing Colorado State, upset winners over Washington. Another Illinois opponent, third-seeded Florida State, meets Kentucky in Minneapolis.