The Daily Illini

Illinois falls to Colorado in marathon match

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Illinois setter Jordyn Poulter (1) sets the ball to Ali Bastianelli (5) during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

Illinois setter Jordyn Poulter (1) sets the ball to Ali Bastianelli (5) during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois setter Jordyn Poulter (1) sets the ball to Ali Bastianelli (5) during the match against Arkansas at Huff Hall on Friday, August 26. The Illini won 3-0.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

The second and final match of the Big Ten/PAC-12 challenge for the Illinois volleyball team ended similarly to its first match; a close five-set defeat.

While there were parallels that could be drawn between Saturday’s thriller against No. 9 Stanford and Sunday’s marathon match against Colorado, the matches still had differences.

In both matches, the Illini lost sets one and three but won sets two and four.

The Buffaloes had momentum going in their favor heading into the match, coming off a win against Penn State on Saturday. The momentum held, with Colorado consistently finding holes in the Illini defense.

On the other side of the ball, the Illini offense looked out of sync and had trouble killing off points.

The second half was much more of a contest, as the Illini defense picked up behind the efforts of senior Katie Stadick and sophomore Ali Bastianelli. Coach Kevin Hambly turned away from the usual suspects to create more points offensively and found success in Bastianelli and sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter.

Bastianelli took more swings against Colorado than she had in any other match this season, and she did so only a day after her record-setting defensive performance against Stanford. Finishing with 10 kills on 21 attempts, she had the highest hitting percentage of any Illini who took more than 15 swings.

Poulter also had a standout performance that night. Playing in front of her family in her home state of Colorado, the Aurora native set a career high with nine kills. Poulter, the centerpiece of the Illini offense, has had a strong passing and high hitting percentage this season.

After trading sets into the fifth, neither team could pull away from the other on the way to 15 points. Eventually it was the Buffaloes that forced the first match point, but the Illini did not give up and rallied back to even the match at 14. Colorado and Illinois continued to trade points back and forth, forcing six match points before Colorado finally won, 19-17.

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