No. 25 Illinois volleyball gets back on track with three-set sweep of Indiana

Junior+outside+hitter+Jessica+Nunge+goes+up+for+a+kill+against+Minnesota+on+Nov.+6.+The+No.+25+Illini+took+down+the+Indiana+Hoosiers%2C+3-0%2C+on+Friday+night+at+Huff+Hall.

Angel Saldivar

Junior outside hitter Jessica Nunge goes up for a kill against Minnesota on Nov. 6. The No. 25 Illini took down the Indiana Hoosiers, 3-0, on Friday night at Huff Hall.

By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

Behind 20 kills from sophomore outside hitter Raina Terry, Illinois dominated from start to finish on Friday night, taking down Indiana in three sets (25-11, 25-18, 25-17) despite missing both Kennedy Collins and Kyla Swanson.

“As far as tonight goes, I think we did a lot of things well,” said head coach Chris Tamas. “We took really smart swings, we passed well, we served well, so we did all the things that we needed to do to get a nice solid victory.”

After falling behind 2-0 in the first set, the Illini used three straight kills from graduate student outside hitter Megan Cooney to get on the board.

Leading later in the frame 8-6, Illinois pulled away for good following an 8-0 run fueled by three kills apiece from redshirt freshman middle blocker and opposite hitter Maddie Whittington and junior outside hitter Jessica Nunge, an ace from Terry and a block from Whittington and redshirt junior setter Diana Brown to open up a 10-point lead.

With the Hoosiers cutting their deficit to nine farther along in the frame, Illinois took care of business by going on a 5-0 run to end the set, which included three kills from Terry, to give the Illini a 25-11 first-set victory.

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The big run midway through the first set put Illinois over the top, something that continued to be a factor throughout the match.

“When the momentum shifts and when it’s going your way, it’s a great feeling,” Cooney said. “I think when the whole team comes together and celebrates, it can kind of get in the other team’s head a little bit.”

Trailing 6-2 early in the second set, Illinois used a 6-1 run to turn the four-point deficit into a one-point lead, with five of the six points coming via four Terry kills and a Terry ace.

With the Hoosiers still keeping it close, the Illini put the visitors away for good, going on another 8-0 run to open up a nine-point lead. Two aces from senior defensive specialist Taylor Kuper, kills from Terry and Cooney and a block from Whittington proved pivotal in the big run.

Despite a late 4-0 Indiana run, Illinois closed the door on a Nunge kill and a Hoosier attack error to take a commanding 2-0 lead.

Illinois got right to work in the third, jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead via four Indiana errors and two kills each by junior middle blocker Rylee Hinton and Terry.

Though the Hoosiers cut their deficit to 13-10, the Illini used yet another long run — this time 7-0 — to take a 10-point lead and ultimately complete the sweep on a kill from Terry, her 20th of the night.

Alongside her 20 kills, Terry recorded two aces and seven digs while notching a .395 hitting percentage. Cooney also registered double-digit kills with 12 on a .455 clip to go with four digs and two blocks, while Nunge finished with eight kills on a .300 hitting percentage.   

Tamas praised the efficiency of his three outside hitters after the match.

“When you can do that, it’s always going to be a good night for you,” Tamas said. “Offensive efficiency is obviously something we aim for, and it’s not necessarily always about the pure kills, but it’s about the more efficient you can be, the better your offense is churning.”

Illinois, now sitting at 17-9 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play, returns to Huff Hall on Sunday afternoon against No. 10 Ohio State for the last match of its four-match home stand.

“Yeah, this win feels great, but the next one’s up soon, so I’m looking forward to that,” Terry said.

 

@JacksonJanes3

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