Illini volleyball raises over $4,000 for breast cancer

Pink is the new orange and blue.

Over the weekend, the Illini Networkers held their annual pink jersey silent auction against breast cancer. Fifteen special edition pink jerseys were auctioned off for a total of $3,616. The auctioned jerseys will be worn by Illinois against Ohio State on Oct. 20 as a part of the “Workout a Cure” event, and the winning bidders will be allowed to put any name on the back of the jersey as long as it’s not matching the name of the player wearing it. Supporters also donated an additional $517 to set this weekend’s total at $4,133.

The Illini are giving those who missed the auction a chance to make a donation through a series of eBay auctions, which are running from now until 3 p.m. on Sunday. Supporters can bid on a standard pink No. 3 jersey as well as two navy blue with pink trim libero jerseys, Nos. 2 and 10. The net proceeds will be donated to Mills Breast Cancer Institute in Urbana.

Illinois falls out of top 25

For the first time since the AVCA preseason coaches poll, the Illini won’t be included in the top 25. The team went into this past weekend ranked No. 24, but failed to get back to .500 after beating Iowa and losing to then-No. 12 Nebraska, which is now ranked No. 10. Illinois is now 5-7 overall after beginning conference play 1-1.

The Illini’s schedule remains tough after a challenging nonconference set of matches that included seven top-25 ranked opponents. Five of the team’s next six matches will be against ranked opponents; four of them are ranked in the top 15. Head coach Kevin Hambly has said a tough schedule is what’s best for his team, as it increases the team’s chances of getting an NCAA tournament bid.

Fans showing support

Attendance has been strong thus far for the Illini. Through four matches at Huff Hall, there have been 11,314 fans. A season-high 3,538 fans packed Huff Hall for the annual “Stuff Huff” match against Washington, the 11th highest total all-time at the venue. An average of 2,828 fans have shown up to games at Huff Hall this year, which would rank second all time in school history, behind the 1992 in which an average of 3,098 fans attended games.

If the home game at State Farm Center is included, then the Illini have averaged 3,675 fans per game. The match against Iowa at State Farm Center drew the second-largest crowd in team history, with 7,061 fans witnessing the Illini sweep Iowa. The attendance record was set in 2009, with 7,632 fans in attendance at a combined event with the basketball program.

“It was a great event here, and I was surprised and excited about the crowd turnout: 7,000 people,” Hambly said after Friday’s win against Iowa. “It’s a fun place to play. The court didn’t feel like a home match, but the crowd made it feel like it was.”

Blake can be reached at [email protected]