Illinois sweeps Maryland before heading on road trip


Austin Yattoni

Illinois setter Jordyn Poulter (left) and middle blocker Ali Bastianelli (right) attempt to block the ball during the match against Northern Iowa at Huff Hall on Friday. The Illini won 3-0.

By Rachel Spencer, Staff Writer

The Illini picked up another conference win at home yesterday while hosting the Terrapins.

Illinois swept Maryland in three sets, beating the visitors 25-14 in the first and second sets before having to battle it out in the third to walk away with a set score of 25-19. The win pushed the No. 6 Illini to a 19-3 overall record and an 8-3 conference record.

Snagging another conference win, even against a developing Maryland program, will prove important in setting the momentum for Illinois as it heads into a road trip that begins with No. 9 Nebraska.

Head coach Chris Tamas recognizes how a week with a Wednesday and Saturday meet can come with its own unique challenges regardless of the competition ahead.

“When you’re doing the Wednesday to Saturday or Wednesday to Sunday, you don’t get as many days to work on certain things because you’ve got to recover from the night before,” Tamas said. “You’ve got to be able to get ready for the next match; you don’t want to tire them out heading into the next match. So a lot of it for me is maybe we’re not in the gym quite as long but we’re still going hard and still trying to focus on the couple things that we think are going to help beat the next opponent.”

The evening’s matchup had several standout moments. Setter Jordyn Poulter got middle blocker Ashlyn Fleming on a strong start early on, allowing Fleming to snag six kills. For Fleming, the early showing from her and her teammates was the result of continuing to focus on their strategy.

“I think these last couple games we’ve really wanted to start right from the beginning and really step up to the teams and I think we did a really good job of that today and that was definitely a focus we talked about in serve and pass, just coming out strong and making sure we finish strong,” Fleming said. “We’ve had that pattern of kind of having that lull in the middle and I think that was one thing today we wanted to keep pressing and press all the way through the game.”

Poulter also got to step up against Maryland’s defense Wednesday night; the consistent setter showed even more physicality by taking a couple swings — and walked away with four kills at the end of the night.

Looking ahead, Poulter knows there won’t be a lot of downtime before heading to Nebraska and that it will take a lot of work to keep their run going.

“I think just trying to make sure that we hit it hard in practice the next couple days to prepare for them and hopefully (we’ll) bring our best volleyball to them in Lincoln,” Poulter said.