Illinois volleyball releases Big Ten schedule for 2023 season


Sydney Laput

The Illinois volleyball team huddle after their victory against Rutgers on Oct. 12, 2022. The Illini announced their Big Ten schedule for the 2023 season this morning.

By Adam Rosen and Kiran Bond

Just a day after announcing their schedule for the nonconference portion of the season, the Illini released the much anticipated Big Ten schedule for volleyball. The conference sent six teams to the NCAA tournament a year prior and is consistently one of the best in the nation. Illinois has made 29 postseason appearances, four of which have come under seventh-year head coach Chris Tamas, who boasts a 115-67 record since coming to Illinois.

Tamas’ Illini went 10-10 in conference play last year, and battled through a lot of adversity. From injuries to hard-fought losses, the Illini have much to learn from their 2022 season that could bode well for them as they go through another gauntlet.

The Illini will play 20 conference games over the course of two months, the season spanning from late September to late November. The Illini will play seven teams twice and six teams once.

After their final non-conference games in West Lafayette, the Illini will quickly return to Indiana as they travel to Bloomington for a match-up with the Hoosiers on Sept. 20. Last season, the Illini and Hoosiers only faced off once, with the latter taking the victory in four sets. Both teams were similar last year in terms of their record, with both finishing at .500 overall, but in conference play, Indiana won nine of 20 conference games to Illinois’ 10 of 20.

The Illini will return to Champaign for three successive matches. First up on Sept. 24 are the Michigan State Spartans, who were swept by Illinois in 2022, winning just one set out of seven in the two matches. The Spartans finished last year near the bottom of the conference with a 4-16 record in the Big Ten.

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On Sept. 29 and 30, Illinois hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Iowa Hawkeyes, respectively. Penn State finished fifth in the conference a year before and Illinois got its first ranked win of the season over Penn State on Oct. 26 in Huff Hall. Iowa struggled in 2022, tying with Michigan State for the second-worst conference record and a 10-21 overall mark. The Illini swept the Hawkeyes on their senior day last season.

The Illini will go back to West Lafayette on Oct. 4, this time to face the Purdue Boilermakers, who feature Eva Hudson, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Hudson was a key contributor to the five-setter in Champaign last season, where Illinois fell to Purdue in a tightly contested match.

The Illini return to Huff Hall on Oct. 7 to face the Wisconsin Badgers, the 2021 national champions. The Badgers were dominant last year, winning all but one of their Big Ten matches last season, with two of those wins coming against the Illini.

On Oct. 13, the Illini will travel to Columbus, their farthest destination of the season to date, and face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes were one of the classes of the Big Ten last season, finishing 15-5 and tied for third in the conference. They won their only match against the Illini via a 3-0 sweep.

Two days later, the Illini are back at Huff Hall to take on the Rutgers Scarlett Knights, who finished last in the Big Ten a year ago with just a 2-18 record in the conference.

Back-to-back road matches will see the Illini on the east coast with matches in Maryland and New Jersey on Oct. 20 and 22, against the Maryland Terrapins and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, respectively. Maryland went 7-13 in conference games last season, finishing near the bottom of the conference and losing twice to Illinois last season.

The Illini are back at home for their next three matches. The team will play against the Hoosiers and Boilermakers on Oct. 25 and 28.

On Nov. 1, the Illini face their in-state rivals for the first meeting of the season, the Northwestern Wildcats, who finished 7-13 last year. The Wildcats split their two matches against Illinois, both matches ending in a 3-0 victory by the home side.

Down the home stretch of the season, Illinois travels for three matches in a row. First, the Illini will head up to Madison, Wisconsin on Nov. 4 for a rematch with the Badgers.

They will follow up with a trip to Iowa City on Nov. 10 to go up against the Hawkeyes.

The last match of this road trip comes on Nov. 12 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers the 2021 runner-ups for the national championship, and the second-best team in Big Ten play a year ago with a 16-4 mark.

Illinois’ final home matches will be against Ohio State and Michigan on Nov. 17 and 18, respectively.

As Illinois closes out the Big Ten Schedule, the team will take a trip to Minneapolis on Nov. 24, where they will play the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This match will be another return for Tamas to the school he was an assistant at 11 years prior.

The final match of the season will be in Evanston, against the Wildcats on November 25.

Illinois has a mixture of long homestands and long road trips scheduled for 2023. The season ultimately will be decided in those matches, and with plenty of experience mixed with talent, the Illini are sure to fill Huff Hall for another season in 2023.


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