The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois volleyball drops both legs of weekend doubleheader

The Daily Illini Photo File
Middle blocker Kennedy Collins in position to volley the ball against Maryland on Sept. 23, 2022. The Illini suffered a defeat from Notre Dame and Oklahoma on Thursday and Friday.

After going 4-1 through its first five matches of the season, Illinois volleyball was tasked with going on the road for the Irish Invitational. On top of the hosting Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-2), the Illini matched up with the Oklahoma Sooners (3-1). Both squads had the reputation to qualify as Illinois’ most difficult opponent yet and unfortunately, this was reflected in the final scores. The Illini took the floor for just six sets across the two matches, summing to 3-0 losses in both.

Illinois kicked off its first set fairly even with Notre Dame, even jumping out to an early 3-0 advantage. This back-and-forth was ultimately broken by three consecutive points for the Irish which pushed the count to 14-9 and forced a timeout out of head coach Chris Tamas. The Illini fought back, going on a pair of 3-0 and 4-0 runs that resulted in a 17-point stalemate late in the set. 

Notre Dame fired back with a 4-0 run of its own that completely blew the set open for an eventual 25-21 victory. This result appeared to be a momentum shifter, as the second set was entirely less contested from the jump. 

Early deficits of 4-0, 7-2 and 13-6 meant that even when Illinois ripped off five straight points late in the set (17-15), Notre Dame still ended up cruising to a final score of 25-19.

Despite the third set being the most competitive one by far, Illinois was fighting an insanely uphill battle overall. Through 20 serves, the score sat at 10-10 and neither team had led by more than two points so far. Even after the Irish jumped out to a set-high three-point lead following back-to-back service aces, the Illini were able to recover and even claim an 18-17 advantage. 

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    But it was ultimately Notre Dame who powered through the stalemate to claim its third and final set (25-22).

    There was little time for the Illini to recover, as less than 24 hours later they found themselves opposite the Sooners. Although Illinois was able to hang with Notre Dame for significant stretches in its first match, this was not the case for round two.

    Oklahoma was dominant in the first set, with attacking and service errors from Illinois adding to the disparity. The final margin ended up being nine, with nine of Oklahoma’s 25 points coming from Illinois attacking errors.

    Illinois tightened things up in the second set, even led by as much as 12-8 through about half of the set. During that time, Illinois had greatly reduced its amount of errors while Oklahoma had begun to suffer its fair share of them. But down the stretch, attacking errors were the downfall of Illinois. With the Sooners holding a 17-16 advantage, they closed out on an 8-6 run with the difference being two Illinois attacking errors.

    The match was decided in a mostly quiet third set, with Oklahoma jumping out to a 3-0 lead and keeping Illinois at bay for the entire rest of the set. The lead got as big as eight, but was cut down to five by the end for a final score of 25-20.

    Junior hitter Raina Terry tallied a team-high 35 kills across both matches while graduate blocker Kennedy Collins racked up 15 digs and redshirt freshman blocker Cari Bohm totaled eight blocks. Freshman libero Lily Barry also picked up an impressive four service aces. 

    Illinois volleyball will be back in its home state this Tuesday for a 6 p.m. match at Bradley. 



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    About the Contributor
    Conor Blount, Assistant Sports Editor
    My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.