No. 19 Illinois volleyball ends Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge winless

Junior+outside+hitter+Raina+Terry+prepares+to+serve+during+the+home+game+against+Maryland+on+Nov.+21.+The+Illini+fall+to+both+Colorado%2C+3-0%2C+and+No.+14+Washington%2C+1-3%2C+over+the+weekend.+

Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman/Illinois Athletics

Junior outside hitter Raina Terry prepares to serve during the home game against Maryland on Nov. 21. The Illini fall to both Colorado, 3-0, and No. 14 Washington, 1-3, over the weekend.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

Following two matches riddled with errors in the team’s second weekend of the preseason, Illinois fell to Colorado on Saturday, 3-0 (25-27, 18-25, 25-21) and to No. 14 Washington, 3-1 (12-25, 25-22, 22-25, 19-25).

Unhappy with the level of performance the Illini showed throughout the weekend, head coach Chris Tamas had a strong message about the next week of practice for the team.

“We’ve gotta get good,” Tamas said. “We’ve gotta get good at what we’re doing before we head out to conference.”

Boulder, Col., ended up being a tough place to play for the Illini. Illinois’ Saturday loss was due to a variety of factors, but attack errors ended up being the main difference between the two teams.

A close first set saw the two teams interlocked in a set that had no lead greater than two points. Anytime the Illini got on the board, the Buffalo followed suit, mainly by virtue of errors from Illinois. With 10 errors leading to points in set one, even just two fewer errors would have resulted in an Illini win.

Set two saw the Illini’s frustration begin to set in. Starting out strong, Illinois surged out in front, but only narrowly ended up winning the race to double digits. Immediately afterward, the Buffalo went on a 4-0 run, as a hot stretch of serving from Colorado senior libero Savannah Perry resulted in Illini errors and a service ace to top it off. Colorado went on to win the set and protect its lead 25-18. 

The third set from the Illini was a much stronger display than set two, but still not enough to take down the Buffalo on their home court. It was again Illinois who took the early advantage, as it led 13-8 early in the set. Attack errors from Illinois’ kill leaders last weekend, sophomore opposite Kayla Burbage and junior outside hitter Raina Terry began Colorado’s resurgence in the set, as the Buffalo came back to win the set 25-21.

A tough showing from IIlinois’ reliable core, as errors became impossible to overcome. Redshirt senior Diana Brown, who led both matches last weekend in assists, was unable to keep up with Colorado sophomore setter Taylor Simpson throughout the match. Due to the attack errors and general mistakes on the court, Brown tallied just 27 assists to Simpson’s 40.

Where the Illini faltered Saturday, they were much cleaner against the Huskies. Illinois managed to force Washington into eight more errors than Colorado the day before, while only tallying three more errors itself after nine came in the first set.

Set one was pure dominance from the Huskies. With not much to write home about from the Illini in set one, the one saving grace for Illinois was that it seemed to get its errors out of the way early, never repeating this feat of nine errors in a set again this match.

In set two is when Terry began to heat up. She led the match in kills during the second frame, while also leading her team to their first point on the board of the weekend. She ended up with a match-high 17 kills on 29 attempts, hitting at .483%.

When Terry is hitting well, the Illini seem to play their best volleyball.

“That’s the Raina that we know,” Tamas said. “She’s been working through some things but she’s been able to battle. She’s playing six rotations and she’s doing a great job.”

Illinois’ kill leaders managed to keep up with Washington’s for the rest of the match, but the Huskies’ dominance was too much, as they narrowly edged out the Illini in games three and four.

With a lot to clean up before Illinois’ first home match of the season and the approaching conference play later this month, the Illini will rest up this week before a three match weekend at the Dayton Invitational.

 

@DrewFriberg9

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