The Daily Illini

Illinois volleyball opens Big Ten season with five-set victory over No. 10 Purdue

Naya+Crittenden+jumps+to+spike+the+ball+against+Iowa+last+year+at+Huff+Hall.+Illinois+won+3-0.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Illinois volleyball opens Big Ten season with five-set victory over No. 10 Purdue

Naya Crittenden jumps to spike the ball against Iowa last year at Huff Hall. Illinois won 3-0.

Naya Crittenden jumps to spike the ball against Iowa last year at Huff Hall. Illinois won 3-0.

Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illin

Naya Crittenden jumps to spike the ball against Iowa last year at Huff Hall. Illinois won 3-0.

Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illin

Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illin

Naya Crittenden jumps to spike the ball against Iowa last year at Huff Hall. Illinois won 3-0.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

 

Heading in to their match at Purdue, Illinois volleyball head coach Kevin Hambly had stressed that his team needed a big win under its belt.

The Illini got one in a tightly contested five-set win over the No. 10 Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The first set, while close, went to Purdue. Outside hitters Michelle Strizak and Jacqueline Quade struggled to terminate, and the team as a whole looked a little out of sync. In the past, dropping the first set has been a death sentence against the Boilermakers, who hadn’t lost a game where they won the first set in three years.

“I just felt like the team didn’t try and take the first set,” Hambly said. “They hoped Purdue would give it to us.”

In the second set, the Illini held the Boilermakers to a mere .056 hitting percentage en route to a 25-20 win.

Set three was the closest of the match, with 15 ties and seven lead changes, but a Purdue attack error at 23-23 gave the Illini the opportunity to run away with the set, and Quade took full advantage, slamming down the final point of the set.

The freshman from Fort Wayne, Indiana, got off to a rocky start in her return to her home state, committing a few attack errors and giving up a service ace. Quade said after the game that she was nervous early in the match, but she shook those nerves off and came up with some crucial kills for the Illini in the final set.

“She was really influential (late in the match),” Hambly said. “If we don’t have her, we probably don’t win.”

Hambly said the same of the way the Illini’s servers played during the match. The Illini served up seven aces in total, but it was the way that the servers attacked the Boilermakers and threw them off their game that Hambly appreciated most.

“I don’t think we win that match if we don’t serve aggressively,” Hambly said. “Players like Danielle Davis and McKenna Kelsay really went for it.”

The Illini were in the driver’s seat in set four, leading by as many as four late in the set, but six straight Purdue points changed the momentum of the match, and sent it to a fifth set.

“It really came down to the little things,” opposite hitter Naya Crittenden said. “I’m just really glad that in the fifth set, the team came out ready to fight.”

In the final set, the Illini came out strong and built a 2-0 lead behind two blocks by sophomore Ali Bastianelli. Purdue managed to catch the Illini, however, and the match was very much up for grabs until two Purdue errors put Illinois up 14-11. The match ended on a third straight error for the Boilermakers, and with it coach Hambly got his season’s first marquee win.

“Toughness and grit, that’s a big deal,” Hambly said. “I think we overcame a lot, and some individuals overcame a lot, we had some struggles but we played through it and that was great.”

[email protected]

@Jacob_Diaz31

Leave a Comment
The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871