No. 25 Illinois volleyball closes home stand with ranked matchup against No. 10 Ohio State


Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

Illini Volleyball team huddles and celebrates during the match against Indiana on Nov. 12. The Illini won against Indiana, 3-0, and will be up against Ohio State on Sunday.

By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

Coming off a sweep of Indiana on Friday, No. 25 Illinois welcomes yet another ranked conference foe to Huff Hall in No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

The Illini dominated from start to finish against the Hoosiers, with sophomore outside hitter Raina Terry registering 20 kills, redshirt freshman middle blocker/opposite hitter Maddie Whittington making four blocks and redshirt junior Diana Brown notching 39 assists in the 3-0 win.   

Despite entering Sunday’s contest with a 9-6 conference record, the Illini have yet to beat a ranked opponent at home, though they have come close in a five-set loss to then-No. 6 Purdue on Oct. 6.

Ohio State travels to Champaign with a 20-5 overall record and sits at 10-5 in conference play. It also is riding a two-match winning streak that includes a sweep over No. 9 Nebraska and a four-match road win over Northwestern on Saturday.

The Buckeyes boast several dangerous hitters, as it has four hitters with at least 200 kills: Gabby Gonzales (291), Emily Londot (284), Rylee Rader (221) and Mia Grunze (212). They also lead the conference with 14.75  kills per set and the third-best hitting percentage of .268. 

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Brown knows containing everyone isn’t possible, but she says the team’s defense is set up to limit the number of threats the Buckeyes pose. 

“I think the fact is that each of us has to be good on our own hitter, and that way we don’t really have to focus on one person,” Brown said. “Our defense is set up to take away the most surface area on the court. Now, you can’t defend everything, but as long as we are on the same page as the front players, I think we’re in a pretty good spot trying to defend four or five players.”

Rader sits second in the conference in hitting percentage (.450), just behind Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke, while junior setter Mac Podraza has the second-best assists per set average at 11.79 per frame.

Defensively, freshman middle blocker Arica Davis leads the team in blocks (112) and averages the sixth most blocks per set in the Big Ten (1.32).

Head coach Chris Tamas acknowledges that the Buckeyes are a talented team, though he thinks the Illini should focus on their play before looking across to the other side of the net.

“You can only pick your battles, and you hope you ‘chess match’ a bit better than the other team or the coach,” Tamas said. “But you also have to execute in that same breadth. Again, it always comes down to whether we can execute our side of the net first, and then, of course, we’ll try to do our best to slow down the other side of the net.”

Sunday’s match is scheduled for noon at Huff Hall.


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