Illinois volleyball continues road schedule at No. 6 Ohio State


Sydney Laput

Junior outside hitter Raina Terry hits the ball over the net as Northwestern tries to block on Sept. 24.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

A couple of weeks fraught with top-10 opposition and close losses has Illinois still looking for its first ranked win over halfway into the season. Next up for Illinois on this journey is a road match in Columbus, Ohio, against No. 6 Ohio State.

With this, the Illini enter week two of shortened schedules, something that will remain a constant for the rest of the season.

Last week saw Illinois split its matches, sweeping Rutgers at home before dropping to No. 10 Minnesota on the road. In these matches, junior outside hitter Raina Terry continued putting up numbers against the best in the country, leading the kill count against Minnesota (15) and dropping double digits against Rutgers (10).

However, it wasn’t just Terry that had good hitting performances last week. The Illini overall had a decent hitting week and looked much cleaner than previous weeks, despite the sweep loss against the Golden Gophers. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Brooke Mosher tallied eight kills against Minnesota and 12 against Rutgers, while sophomore opposite Kayla Burbage got some time at outside hitter this week, delivering nine kills against Minnesota and 11 against Rutgers.

“It just shows how versatile we are,” Terry said after the team’s match against Rutgers. “We can trust pretty much anyone to put the ball away, it doesn’t have to be just a one person show. It’s everybody, it’s a team effort.”

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The Buckeyes are 11-5 so far this season, with a 7-1 conference record as well. The team dropped in five sets against No. 3 Nebraska for its only B1G loss this season, but took down Minnesota last week just days before Illinois got swept.

With the Buckeyes, plenty of standout players are evident, but the team’s dedication to strong defense is what sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Against Minnesota, Ohio State tallied 38 digs and 10 blocks as a team, while Illinois only had 31 and six respectively. 

Hitting accurately against a Buckeye team meant to thwart hitters like Terry, Burbage and Mosher is a must, as accurate hitting in big moments has been a problem all season for Illinois.

“I think we are halfway in between keeping it in and wanting to hit it. You can’t do that,” head coach Chris Tamas said. “You’ve got to be able to do one or the other, and I prefer to hit it … It’s a mental thing.”

A win over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night would be huge for the team’s postseason hopes. Having not registered a ranked win yet and boasting an even 7-7 preseason record, postseason play is not confirmed yet for the Illini.

That all could change with a win at 5 p.m. Wednesday, as the No. 6 Buckeyes look to keep climbing the national rankings and the Illini look to take down the hot league contenders.



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