Illinois falls to No. 3 Nebraska in a sold-out Huff Hall, falls to 4-6 in conference play

Senior+middle+blocker+Kennedy+Collins+prepares+to+hit+the+ball+over+the+net+during+the+first+set+against+No.+3+Nebraska+on+Saturday.+The+Illini+falls+to+the+Cornhuskers%2C+3-0.+

Sydney Laput

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Collins prepares to hit the ball over the net during the first set against No. 3 Nebraska on Saturday. The Illini falls to the Cornhuskers, 3-0.

By Adam Rosen, Staff Writer

Illinois volleyball has had its fair share of ups and downs this season, sitting at 9-11 with a 4-6 record in conference play. But Illinois’ most formidable challenge would come in its annual Stuff Huff event, which hosted the No. 3 Nebraska Cornhuskers (18-1, 10-0). The Illini have struggled to beat the Cornhuskers in their history, with an 8-33-1 record. The record would continue in the favor of the Huskers as the Illini were swept in three sets.

Senior outside hitter Jessica Nunge, who had not played in over a month before playing against Ohio State on Wednesday, made her return to the starting lineup. Nunge spoke about the mentality she had and how her teammates helped her during her injury rehab.

“I definitely leaned on my teammates a lot,” Nunge said. “Their support meant everything to me and they were with me through it all which helped me get back to it.”

As the Illini looked to follow along with the recent trend of knocking off ranked teams. Back at home, they had a sold-out Huff Hall to support them, even with the large presence of Nebraska fans.

What started as a close set one turned into a rout in favor of the visitors, as the Cornhuskers closed out the set on an 8-1 run to win it 25-14. Junior outside hitter Raina Terry led the Illini with five kills and a .833 hit percentage.

Set two started as a close battle similar to the first set, but once again Nebraska showed why they are the number three team in the nation, winning set two by a score of 25-16. The Illini were once again led by Terry who had six kills in the set.

Looking to avoid their third sweep in a row, the Illini had to get it going in set three. Illinois refused to go down without a fight, as they had shown all year, but the effort fell short, as Nebraska took set three 25-22, handing Illinois its third straight sweep.

The match featured the sixth appearance of the season from redshirt freshman middle blocker Sarah Bingham, who attempted a couple of serves. Head coach Chris Tamas spoke about giving opportunities to his players tonight.

“A part of it is what we have in terms of injuries right now,” Tamas said. “It gives them an opportunity to grow in that position as well, and we are seeing some really nice things.”

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Collins talked about how electric the crowd was.

“It is always fun when Huff is packed,” Collins said. “It was good to see everybody come out and support us and I hope we get crowds like that.”

Illinois fell two games below .500 with another ranked team, No. 13 Penn State coming to Huff on Wednesday. The Illini have yet to win a ranked match in conference play.

 

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