Undefeated Illini Volleyball comes back in five-set thriller over Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Despite a two-set deficit, the No. 8 Illinois volleyball team fought its way back to earn a come-from-behind five-set (24-26, 22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 15-8) victory over Indiana on Sunday (September 23) afternoon in University Gym.

With the win, the Illini improve to 13-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference, while the Hoosiers drop to 10-3 and 1-1 in league play.

The Illini had four players register double-digit kills with sophomore Megan Cooney and redshirt-junior Beth Prince each turning in a match-high 16 kills – with Cooney hitting at a .433 clip to go along with four blocks. Junior Jacqueline Quade registered her sixth career double-double and second of the season with 15 kills and 14 digs, while senior Ali Bastianelli added 13 kills on a .391 attack clip and a match-high seven blocks.

As a team, the Illini posted a .270 hitting percentage, with senior Jordyn Poulter tallying her 28th career double-double and fifth of the season after handing out 52 assists to go along with 15 digs.

Defensively, the Illini also had four players reach double figures in digs as Quade and Poulter were joined by freshman Taylor Kuper with a season-high 15 digs and sophomore Morgan O’Brien with 13 digs and three aces.

It was a back-and-forth opening set as both teams traded three-point leads as the Hoosiers grabbed an 11-8 edge on an Illini service error. Four-straight points propelled the Illini back in front at 12-11 and from there the set saw eight ties until a Hoosier ace gave the home team their first set point at 24-23. A Prince kill tied the score at 24-24, but back-to-back points put IU ahead with a 26-24 set win.

In another closely contested period, the Illini grabbed a fast 6-2 start, before the Hoosiers knotted the score at 8-8. A Cooney kill gave the Illini a 14-11 edge midway through the second, but a 9-2 run from the home team sent IU to a 20-16 advantage. The Orange & Blue continued to battle as back-to-back Prince kills on the serve of sophomore Kylie Bruder brought the Illini to within 20-19. After Indiana committed three-straight errors to tie the set at 22-22, the home team strung together three-straight scores to take the set, 25-22 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.

It was a side-out third period with 12 ties until the Illini broke a 14-14 tie with four-straight points en route to an 8-2 run – capped by back-to-back Bastianelli blocks – to take a 22-16 lead. The two teams then traded points, before a Bastianelli kill was followed up by a Prince and Bastianelli block to keep the Illini alive at 25-18.

After the Illini bolted out to a 7-3 edge in the fourth, the Hoosiers battled back to knot things at 10-10. The visitors responded by taking three of the next four points as a Poulter and Bastianelli block made it 14-11, before a 9-3 run pushed the advantage to 23-15. Poulter then sent the match to the decisive final set after winning a joust at the net to wrap the fourth at 25-17.

Back-to-back Quade kills started off the fifth as the Illini took an early 3-0 advantage, before the Hoosiers drew even at 5-5. The Illini then scored the next four of five points as a Kuper ace made it 10-6 in favor of the visitors. Indiana closed within 11-8 after a kill, but the Illini rattled off four-unanswered points to complete the comeback with the 15-8 fifth set victory.

Illinois returns to Huff Hall for a four-match homestand, starting on Friday (September 28) against Iowa for Hawaiian Night, before facing off against defending national champion and No. 3-ranked Nebraska for Stuff Huff on Saturday (September 29). Both matches are set for a 7 p.m. CT first serve.

For more Fighting Illini volleyball news, stay tuned to FightingIllini.com and follow @IlliniVBall on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook.

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Author: Admin