Illinois volleyball leaves Panther Invite with polished record

Graduate+Student+Megan+Cooney+sets+the+ball+during+their+volleyball+game+against+Valparaiso+Aug.+28.+Megan+Cooney+had+13+kills+during+their+game+as+they+ride+the+high+back+to+Champaign.

Photo Courtesy of UIUC Volleyball Twitter

Graduate Student Megan Cooney sets the ball during their volleyball game against Valparaiso Aug. 28. Megan Cooney had 13 kills during their game as they ride the high back to Champaign.

By Enji Erdenekhuyag, Staff Writer

The Illinois volleyball team is off to a successful start. The Illini racked up three wins at the Panther Invitational in Milwaukee this weekend.

A five-setter with the University of California, Santa Barbara was first up on the campaign for Illinois on Friday. The match teetered back-and-forth with terse turnarounds, but the Illini came out on top.

After dropping the first set, 25-23, Illinois secured the second, 32-30, with a block from Kyla Swanson and Raina Terry. UCSB took the third, 25-22, and Illinois returned the favor with a 25-22 fourth-set win. Illinois then secured the match, scoring 15-8 in the fifth frame. Taylor Kuper had a defensive showout, notching up 17 digs, while Kennedy Collins led offensively with 17 kills on a .520 hitting percentage. 

Riding the momentum, Illinois then defeated host Milwaukee, 3-0, on Friday. Though the Panthers trailed the Illini in the first, they kept clawing back — that is until Illinois pushed past with a 25-18 set win. 

Milwaukee clung on, leading during both the second and third sets, but Illinois finished both, 25-21 and 25-23. Terry and Brown were the high-hitters of the match: Terry secured 13 kills, and Brown hit a match-high 32 assists. 

On Saturday, the Illini came away with another sweep against Valparaiso. Megan Cooney chalked up 13 kills on a .370 hitting percentage. Kuper was a big defensive presence on the courts, tallying 14 digs. Brown upped her previous performance and hit 35 assists. With these efforts, Illinois outplayed Valparaiso, 25-20, 25-16 and 25-20. 

With an undefeated start to its season, Illinois will prepare to play in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge against Washington and Colorado. The matches will be hosted at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, respectively, at Huff Hall.

 

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