EVANSTON, Ill. – The No. 4 Illinois volleyball team routed Northwestern in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-14) victory to earn the season sweep and extend its win streak to 10 matches on Wednesday (November 14) night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Illini (25-3, 14-3 B1G) were paced by senior Ali Bastianelli with 10 kills on a .500 hitting percentage, while also totaling a match-high four blocks to become the first-ever Illini and only the third-ever Big Ten Conference player to register 700 or more total blocks and currently owns 702 career blocks in her four years.
As a team, the Illini recorded a .408 hitting percentage – including a .591 clip in the second set and a .500 mark in the third – as senior Jordyn Poulter handed out 33 assists, while adding seven digs and three blocks.
Defensively, sophomore Morgan O’Brien led all players with 12 digs, while junior Ashlyn Fleming and redshirt-junior Beth Prince also turned in a match-high four blocks to help hold the Wildcats (15-14, 5-12 B1G) to a -.025 hitting percentage.
It was a side-out start to the match as the two teams traded points until the Illini used a 7-0 run – with six points on the serve of Quade – to build an 18-12 edge. The two teams then traded points until the Illini – leading at 21-15 after a solo stuff from Prince – scored on the next four of five rallies to take the first at 25-16.
The Illini were quick out of the gate in the second with three-straight points to start the set en route to building a 12-2 lead on a 6-0 run that included three Quade kills and a Fleming ace. After a Bastianelli kill pushed the advantage to 15-5, the Wildcats used three-straight scores to close with 15-8. The Illini then responded with an 8-3 run – jump-started on the O’Brien serve – to finish out the second with a 25-11 win.
It was a familiar story in the third as the Illini scored the first-four points of the set and led at 14-3 after a service ace from freshman Taylor Kuper. The Wildcats would string together three-straight points to bring their deficit to 17-10, but the Illini used a 5-2 mini run to push the advantage back to double digits at 22-12. A pair of Bastianelli kills then set up match point as a kill from senior Blayke Hranicka sealed the sweep with the 25-14 set victory.
Illinois next flies east for a Saturday (November 17) showdown with Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, at 6 p.m. CT.