Illinois volleyball earn two much-needed victories on road

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Sydney Laput

Setter Brooke Mosher jumps to spike the ball against Maryland on Sept. 23. The Illini defeated Michigan State Spartans on and Michigan Wolverines during the team’s Big Ten matches during today and Friday.

By Adam Rosen, Staff Writer

Illinois volleyball (13-13, 8-8) entered another weekend road trip with matches against the northernmost Big Ten teams, the Michigan State Spartans (10-16, 1-14) and the Michigan Wolverines (15-11, 6-10) where the Illini reigned victorious in both matches.

The Illini picked up the win against the Spartans handily, with a straight sweep. Then won a four set match against the Wolverines to get back to .500 on the season and in conference.

The Illini tipped off first against the Spartans in East Lansing. Set one was a heated matchup, as the Illini took it 25-23. Freshman setter Brooke Mosher and senior middle blocker Rylee Hinton led Illinois with four kills each, as the Illini had a hitting percentage over .400.

In set two against the Spartans, the Illini fell into a large deficit before making it a close one late. The Illini pulled out a comeback, ending the set on an 11-4 run. Mosher added five more kills, running her total on the night to nine, as the Illini had all the momentum.

Set three was another close one between the two sides. However, the Illini once again pulled ahead, winning the set 25-22, and taking the match in a straight sweep over the Spartans. Mosher added four more kills to total 13 on the night, as the Illini got one of potentially two much-needed wins.

The second match of the weekend took place just about 100 miles southeast, as Illinois took on the Wolverines, who received votes in the most recent AVCA poll.

Set one was an even close battle between the Illini and Wolverines, as neither team could pull away. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Collins led the way with six kills on eight attempts for Illinois as it took the first set 29-27, after multiple runs by the two teams. 

Once again, the teams kept it close in set two, as it stayed a one-point set for the majority of it. However, the Illini pulled away to take the set 25-21 and moved closer to another sweep to close out the weekend. Junior outside hitter Raina Terry added to her impressive season as through two sets she registered 10 kills.

The Illini looked to sweep the Wolverines and complete a successful trip to Michigan in set three. The story of the set was point streaks, as both teams compiled runs of at least 4-0 in the set. Though it was the Wolverines who pulled it out and stayed alive in the match with a 25-22 win. Terry added five more kills in the set.

The Illini still had the upper hand, but the Wolverines held the momentum after staying afloat in the match. The set was close once again, but it was the Illini who took advantage of a poor hitting performance from Michigan to win the set 25-19, winning the match 3-1. 

Head coach Chris Tamas spoke about how the team’s set one victory against the Wolverines, as well as the emotions going into the final two home matches of the season. 

“All set ones can be a bit nerve-wracking getting used to a new environment, we have not played the greatest in set ones, and we talked about making sure we still do what we do,” Tamas said. “We get to go back home and celebrate the senior week and hopefully we can get another two back at home.”

Mosher spoke about the mindset from the team’s perspective going into the final home matches, knowing winning is the only option if they want to make the tournament. 

“I think we feel good, especially after this win, it was such an amazing win for us,” Mosher said. “We have a lot of momentum going into it and we know that all we have to do is just keep doing what we are doing, playing free and playing hard.”

The Illini head back to Huff Hall for the final home matches of the year, with the first coming against the Spartans again on Friday.

 

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