Strizak, Quade help win five set thriller, break Maryland streak

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Strizak, Quade help win five set thriller, break Maryland streak

Ali Bastianelli (5) spikes the ball down during the game. Illini won 3-0 against Rutgers.

Ali Bastianelli (5) spikes the ball down during the game. Illini won 3-0 against Rutgers.

Karolina Marczewski

Ali Bastianelli (5) spikes the ball down during the game. Illini won 3-0 against Rutgers.

Karolina Marczewski

Karolina Marczewski

Ali Bastianelli (5) spikes the ball down during the game. Illini won 3-0 against Rutgers.

By James Boyd, Staff writer

The Maryland volleyball team had not lost a game at its home arena since Nov. 14.

That streak came to an end when No. 24 Illinois defeated the Terrapins in a hotly-contested five-set match.

The win lifted the Illini to 10-5 on the season and 3-1 in the Big Ten, while the Terps dropped to 8-8 overall and 0-4 in conference play.

The Illini, coming off being swept at home by No. 1 Nebraska, showed some resiliency when it faced the defending national champions — even taking the lead in the second and third sets — but were unable to win a set against the Cornhuskers.

“We didn’t have much of a hangover (from the Nebraska match),” head coach Kevin Hambly said. “I thought, actually, we did a great job of coming out early. But I think we kind of relaxed and thought this would be easy. Every team is going to be tough to beat at home. No one rolls over.”

The Illini fell behind in the first set, 5-10, but went on a 5-1 run to tie things up at 11. The run consisted of one kill by sophomore Ali Bastianelli but was largely due to attack and service errors by Maryland.

The Illini briefly fell behind again 12-14, but a kill from freshman Jacqueline Quade and an ace by Bastianelli tied things up at 14. Maryland never regained the lead, and Illinois went on to win the first set, 25-18. The seven-point win would be the largest margin of victory for either team in the match.

For the rest of the day, Maryland and Illinois traded set victories. The Terrapins bounced back from their first-set loss to win the second, 25-22, but the real showdown happened in the third set.

Twenty-five points were not enough to determine who would break the 1-1 tie. The set featured 13 ties and nine lead changes between the Big Ten foes, but Illinois ultimately prevailed behind six kills by senior Michelle Strizak and Quade who added six kills of her own. An attack error by Maryland’s Liz Twilley ended the match at 30-28.

“It’s nice to get (Strizak and Quade) going,” Hambly said. “We haven’t had both of them going in a match. I wish we would’ve had more offense. We didn’t really get to the middle the way we wanted to. We didn’t pass well enough to really get ourselves in a great offensive rhythm, so we had to rely on the outside to get it done for us.”

In a 1-2 hole, Maryland won the fourth set to keep the match going, but in the end, its 0.174 hitting percentage and 31 errors didn’t provide the offensive spark needed to win the match.

It remained close until the final point, but Illinois won the final set, 16-14, and the match, 3-2. Quade said her team remained loose throughout the day despite several momentum swings.

The outside hitter tallied the second-most kills on the night with 18 — behind Strizak’s 20 — and after winning Big Ten Freshman of the Week earlier this season, she’s looking forward to facing the rest of what her conference opponents have to offer.

“It’s a tough win on the road,” Quade said. “Playing in the Big Ten is awesome. I mean, there’s competition every night. There’s no nights off.”

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