Terry shines as Illinois volleyball earns two home wins in first conference weekend of season

Junior+outside+hitter+Raina+Terry+prepares+to+hit+the+ball+during+the+game+against+Maryland+on+Friday.+The+Illini+won+both+back-to-back+home+games+against+Maryland%2C+3-1%2C+and+sweeping+Northwestern%2C+3-0.+

Sydney Laput

Junior outside hitter Raina Terry prepares to hit the ball during the game against Maryland on Friday. The Illini won both back-to-back home games against Maryland, 3-1, and sweeping Northwestern, 3-0.

By Adam Rosen, Staff Writer

In their first two Big Ten matchups of the season, the Illini (5-5) took on the Maryland Terrapins (9-3) and the Northwestern Wildcats (11-1) in front of a packed home crowd at Huff Hall, where it came out victorious in both matches. Illinois edged out Maryland 3-1 before sweeping Northwestern on Saturday, 3-0. 

With a brand new scoreboard in tow and plenty of Illini fans in the building, the Illini got set to face off against Maryland on Friday night at 8 p.m.

However, the Illini would be without their star senior outside hitter Jessica Nunge, as she arrived with crutches, wearing a cast on her right foot on Friday night after an injury in practice that morning. They also faced off against one of the best blockers in the nation in Rainelle Jones, who led the NCAA in blocks per set last season (1.73). 

In the first set against Maryland, Illinois fed off the packed orange and blue crowd, as the team battled its way to a 25-15 first-set win. Junior outside hitter Raina Terry led the Illini with six kills on 12 total attacks while redshirt freshman setter Brooke Mosher followed with four kills on seven attempts. 

After getting dominated in the first set, the Terrapins took charge and showed off their superb defense, with five blocks in the set as they won set two 25-18. The Illini played from behind most of the set, while Terry and Mosher continued to have standout performances. 

The Illini once again dominated the third set winning it 25-15, taking a 2-1 lead. This came as the Illini didn’t record a single block, showing off their ferocious offense. Redshirt senior setter Diana Brown’s trickery towards the end helped the Illini clinch the set.

After an incredible back and forth, the Illini came back and took set four 25-23 and won the match. An overall fantastic night from the entire team overcame Maryland’s stout defense. The home crowd helped push the Illini over the edge after a 20-23 deficit towards the end of the set.

Sophomore opposite Kayla Burbage spoke about her first experience in front of Huff Hall as a new player to the program this year.

“It’s almost surreal, you hear about how electric Huff Hall is from other people or past people that have been in the program,” Burbage said. “But until you’re actually here, you don’t realize the magnitude of it, so walking in and seeing all the fans pouring in, it’s really awesome.” 

The Illini played their second match of the weekend against their in-state Big Ten rival, the Northwestern Wildcats, on Saturday at 7 p.m. 

The first set turned into a back-and-forth bout between the two teams, and despite Illinois losing an 8-point lead early on, they managed to hang on and win the set 26-24, led by Terry with five kills.

During the second set against the Wildcats, the Illini were ferocious on defense, totaling five blocks, as they took the set 25-18, to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Illini closed the set out on a 7-1 scoring run. 

The Illini went into the third set looking for a sweep, which they achieved in another close 25-20 win. Led by redshirt senior setter Diana Brown’s incredible double-double, the Illini started Big Ten play with a 2-0 record.

Terry had another big performance in match two of the weekend, as she put up 14 kills and five blocks.

The Illini went into the third set looking for a sweep, which they achieved in another close 25-20 win. Led by redshirt senior setter Diana Brown’s incredible double-double, the Illini started Big Ten play with a stellar 2-0 record, much to head coach Chris Tamas’ liking.

“I’m ready to hang banners right now,” Tamas jokingly said. “Any win in the Big Ten is huge whether it’s at home or on the road.”

The Illini (7-5) host Purdue next Friday at Huff Hall before traveling to Madison to battle the Wisconsin Badgers.

 

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