Illinois volleyball conquers the Cardinal Classic


Austin Yattoni

Jordyn Poulter sets the ball to Ali Bastianelli during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Aug. 26. The Illini won 3-0. This season, in the Cardinal Classic, Bastianelli had eight blocks against Kent State. The team’s record is now 6-0.

By Christian Evans, Staff writer

The Illinois volleyball team continued its undefeated start to the season by sweeping the Cardinal Classic, as they beat Kent State, Western Kentucky and Louisville all in straight sets to improve the record to 6-0.

Against Kent State, it was Illinois’ defense that made the difference. Junior Ali Bastianelli had eight blocks and freshman Megan Cooney had four blocks, while the Flashes only had three collectively. On the season, Illinois has 72 total blocks in six matches, compared to its opponents’ 15.

Bastianelli, who made the All-Tournament team, said that the key to the Illini’s defense was their ability to serve the ball.

“We served so well this weekend and we got all the teams we played out of system, which made it really easy on the block,” Bastianelli said. “Especially with Western Kentucky, they run a fast offense and they were not able to do that because of our serving.”

Against Western Kentucky, Illinois set a school record with a .652 hitting percentage for the match. Bastianelli led the team with a .917 hitting percentage, while sophomores Beth Prince and Jacqueline Quade contributed with 12 and 9 kills, respectively.

Junior and tournament MVP Jordyn Poulter set her teammates up well against Western Kentucky. The Illini had 42 assists compared to the Hilltoppers’ 34.  Poulter also led the Illini to a .336 hitting percentage overall in the Cardinal Classic.

Sophomore Beth Prince said that the team’s dedication has lead to their efficiency.

“We have been working really hard in practice and I think that is starting to translate into matches,” Prince said. “As we are getting more consistent passing, Jordyn can really spread out the ball and that leads to success for us.”

While Illinois beat Louisville in straight sets, the match was competitive up until the end. The Cardinals led the Illini 16-15 in the final set and the Illini retaliated, scoring 10 of the match’s final 14 points.

It was once again a team effort for the Illini as Prince, Bastianelli, Quade, and Blayke Hranicka all had 6 or more kills. Freshman Morgan O’Brien also had a career-high three aces against the Cardinals.

Head coach Chris Tamas said he could not be more pleased with the team.

“I think whenever you can start 6-0, your confidence is high,” Tamas said. “We talked after the match a little bit and I said whenever I give interviews like this, it is all about the team and it really is. They have been doing a really nice job.”

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