No. 4 Illini Volleyball routs Wildcats for season sweep

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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.

Sophomore Megan Cooney also led with 10 kills on a team-high .533 attack clip, with junior Jacqueline Quade adding nine kills on a .500 hitting percentage.

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.

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

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