Illinois volleyball suffers first losing weekend, falls to Stanford and Colorado


Austin Yattoni

Illinois setter Jordyn Poulter and middle blocker Ali Bastianelli attempt to block Stanford outside hitter Michaela Keefe’s hit during the match against Stanford at Huff Hall on Friday, Sept. 8. The Illini lost 3-0.

By Christian Evans, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s volleyball team lost both matches against Stanford and Colorado in the Big-Ten/Pac-12 Challenge, falling to 6-2 on the season.

In the seventh best attended match in history at 4,152, Illinois lost to No.4 Stanford in three sets (23-25, 23-25, 22-25).

Head coach Chris Tamas said that the team will just have to take this loss and learn from it.

“I think if we look back on film that we are going to see that we could have made a few plays here and there,” Tamas said. “But, it is also a good learning moment for us to play in this environment and have a couple freshman step in and returners played really well. Overall, I am proud of the play but I think, as always, there is room for improvement.”

Against Stanford, Illinois had a hitting percentage of .409 with nine blocks compared to Stanford’s eight, making it their seventh straight match this season the Illini had more blocks than their opponent.

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Sophomore Beth Prince had a career high 13 kills on a .440 hitting percentage and freshman Jacqueline Quade had 11 kills. Freshman Megan Cooney also contributed as she had five of the team’s nine blocks.

While Illinois competed well collectively, it was experience that made the difference in all three of those sets. The Illini had late leads in all three sets but Stanford’s experience kicked in as they closed the match out each time.

Junior Ali Bastianelli, who had 15 kills, a .619 hitting percentage and six blocks, said that the team has to stop digging holes for themselves.

“We know we were right there all three sets and if we can come back from down five or six points every time, it is just a matter of not letting that happen,” Bastianelli said.

After playing Stanford on Friday, Illinois faced Colorado on Saturday afternoon.

The match against Colorado was a slug-fest, with the Buffs ultimately beating the Illini in five sets (23-25, 26-28, 26-24, 25-12, 15-17).

Sophomore Beth Prince had a career high 25 kills in this match, almost doubling the career high she had just set the night before against Stanford.

Prince said that while the team struggled at first, they eventually found a rhythm because of junior setter Jorydn Poulter, as she had 60 assists on the day.

“We had to play around and find ways to exploit them, “ Prince said. “We weren’t successful right away but Jordyn kept putting the ball in the right to mess around with it and see what would work. We got into a rhythm and in the last few sets we scored on some big balls which made us able to chop in some different things and keep them on their heels.”

In the last set against Colorado, Illinois was down 10-6 but came back to tie the match at 15-15. Back to back kills sealed the win for the Buffs.

Tamas said that the team needed this learning experience this weekend as they are approaching Big-Ten play.

“Colorado is a good team,” Tamas said. “ We gave our all last night and I understand we are all tired but the good teams can push through and play back-to-back. It is a good lesson for us heading into our last tournament before Big-Ten play.”

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