Illinois ousts Indiana, looks ahead to Purdue

Illinois%27+Brandi+Donnelly+passes+the+ball+during+the+match+against+Northwestern+at+Huff+Hall+on+Saturday%2C+October+15.+The+Illini+won+3-0.
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Illinois ousts Indiana, looks ahead to Purdue

Illinois' Brandi Donnelly passes the ball during the match against Northwestern at Huff Hall on Saturday, October 15. The Illini won 3-0.

Illinois' Brandi Donnelly passes the ball during the match against Northwestern at Huff Hall on Saturday, October 15. The Illini won 3-0.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Brandi Donnelly passes the ball during the match against Northwestern at Huff Hall on Saturday, October 15. The Illini won 3-0.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Brandi Donnelly passes the ball during the match against Northwestern at Huff Hall on Saturday, October 15. The Illini won 3-0.

By James Boyd, Staff writer

Before every home match, as the Illinois Volleyball team prepares to play, “We Ready” by Archie Eversole and Bubba Sparxxx is blasted through the speakers at Huff Hall.

The lyrics in the song read, “We ready, we ready, we ready, for y’all,” and on Friday night it was clear that Illinois was ready to take on Indiana in the team’s ninth conference match.

A balanced offensive attack and stout defensive performance by the Illini sent the Hoosiers home with a straight sets loss (25-18, 25-19, 25-20). It was Indiana’s second consecutive loss and seventh Big Ten loss overall.

Senior Allison Hammond leads Indiana in kills this season with 253, including 11 against Illinois, but she only managed to record a .162 hitting percentage. The Hoosiers as whole could only muster up a .148 team hitting percentage against an Illini defense anchored by junior Brandi Donnelly. Donnelly recorded a team-high 16 digs.

“When we look at the defense, we look at what (the opponents) hit against us, what they’re hitting efficiency is.” head coach Kevin Hambly said. “We held them under .150 which is pretty good. You know, I think they got some stuff going in the third. But otherwise I thought we played really good, defensive volleyball.”

Hambly added that Indiana is a tough team to prepare for because of how fast it runs its offense, but for the third match in a row Illinois held its opponent to a hitting percentage lower than .200.

On the offensive side, the Illini didn’t win any set against the Hoosiers by double-figures. Each was relatively close from start to finish and several players chipped offensively in so that Illinois could earn its fifth straight-sets victory in Big Ten play.

One of those players was senior Katie Stadick. Sporting a white bandage on her left hand and a knee brace on her left knee, the Illini’s middle blocker didn’t show any signs of injury on the court.

She recorded seven kills and a team-high four block assists. Stadick has been battling with injuries since fracturing her left thumb during preseason, but neither her or her coach is concerned about her health going forward.

“(My thumb) is definitely improving,” Stadick said. “It wasn’t the greatest at the beginning of the season, but its healing nicely and it’s still there. (My bandage) was actually a lot bigger against Purdue and Nebraska. It was like this huge, hard plastic thing and I’m just down to the tape now.”

Stadick said that her team’s spread out attack against Indiana was a positive takeaway from the match. She said that sophomore Jordyn Poulter did a great job of making sure that every one of the team touched the ball.

Poulter led the way for the Illini with 35 assists and her play did not go unnoticed by Hambly.

“I think we’ve had good balance all season,” Hambly said.  “As long as we pass we have good balance. I thought Jordyn felt comfortable setting everybody. She ran some offense that I thought was pretty nice and put our hitters in some really good situations. It’s what you expect from her.”

Illinois will have a quick turnaround and will face Purdue in less than 24 hours.

The last time the two conference foes competed against each other was in West Lafayette, Indiana. Illinois left Holloway Gymnasium with a five-set victory.

Since then the Boilermakers have gone 2-6 in conference and will be looking to redeem themselves against an Illinois squad that is 6-2 in that span.

“Everyone’s coming here trying to get a win,” Hambly said. “Everywhere we go we’re trying to get a win. We don’t worry about the revenge. We just worry about being the best team we can tomorrow.”

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