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Illinois volleyball opens home season with a win

Illinois+opposite+hitter+Naya+Crittenden+spikes+the+ball+during+the+match+against+Arkansas+at+Huff+Hall+on+Friday%2C+August+26.+The+Illini+won+3-0.
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Illinois volleyball opens home season with a win

Illinois opposite hitter Naya Crittenden spikes the ball during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

Illinois opposite hitter Naya Crittenden spikes the ball during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois opposite hitter Naya Crittenden spikes the ball during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois opposite hitter Naya Crittenden spikes the ball during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

Illini volleyball’s freshman Jaqueline Quade has arrived.

The freshman outside hitter recorded a match-­high 15 kills in her first competitive match as Illinois beat Arkansas in three sets.

Quade spent most of the match on the floor for the Illini, playing all six rotations despite being inexperienced in the back row. She was unfazed however, and was a consistent offensive weapon for the Illini.

“I think the stats reflect how I feel she did, she did great,” Jordyn Poulter said of Quade. “She maintained a high level of composure for her first collegiate match.”

The Illini jumped to an early lead, cruising through the first set behind a strong performance from senior Naya Crittenden.

Crittenden put away five on nine swings in the first set, helping Illinois hold off a small rally by the Razorbacks. However, she was unable to keep her performance up throughout the match, finishing with six kills on sixteen swings.

“She made some errors trying to be overly aggressive on some plays, otherwise her hitting efficiency would have been much higher,” head coach Kevin Hambly said. “But if she and Jordyn (Poulter) can connect a little bit better, she could be a major weapon for us and really spread the offense out.”

Quade and Katie Stadick came alive in a dominant second set for the Illini. Stadick had four kills and Quade had eight in the second set alone as the Illinois offense was firing on all cylinders.

The Razobacks looked overwhelmed throughout the second set, and the Illini looked like a well-organized machine, constantly moving and creating clear chances. Quade brought the crowd to it’s feet when she sent a rocket off of an Arkansas player’s face to win a point, and again when she killed off the set with a thunderous spike that the Razorbacks couldn’t handle.

“It’s not a surprise.” Hambly said. “We’ve known that we’ve had a player for a while in Jackie, it was just a question of how it would look with the lights on. It looked pretty good with the lights on.”

The Illini faltered a bit in the third set, and errors allowed Arkansas to keep the set close all the way to the final play.

“We just got sloppy, the focus wasn’t there.” Hambly said. “We had seven errors in that last set, and we were playing pretty clean before that, but we just got a little sloppy.”

After a few lead changes late in the set, the Illini prevailed, and it was Quade again who put the match, away.

In addition to her team-­high 15 kills, Quade was second on the team in digs with eight. However, Hambly was quick to point out that looks can be deceiving.

“She has a lot to learn (on defense), she doesn’t have much experience there.” Hambly said. “It’s how many opportunities you have, and how many digs you get on those opportunities. She probably had the most opportunities of anyone, and she only dug eight balls.”

 

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@Jacob_Diaz31

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