After losing their first game of the Iowa State Challenge to #14 San Diego on Saturday, the Illinois Fighting Illini came out with a vengeance as they took the loss out on the #11 Iowa State Cyclones with a 3-0 sweep on Sunday.
After a slow start to begin the first set, the Illini got things working to comeback and win the set, 25-23, then cruised to win the next two sets, 25-19 and 25-16.
Illinois was hitting on all cylinders as the team hit a season-best .303 in the match. They were led by senior Courtney Abrahamovich with three hits, along with two hits each for Liz McMahon and Ali Stark.
Sophomore outside hitter Jocelynn Birks and redshirt freshman middle blocker Maddie Mayers also had a big day for the Fighting Illini.
Birks had 11 kills and eight digs on the day, and Mayers racked up nine kills and contributed to all eight of the team’s blocks after being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week early this week.
After the match, Illini head coach Kevin Hambly said:
“Iowa State served really tough. “We hit .300, which is a good number and what you want to hit, but we sided out at 56% and we scored at 60% which is not great volleyball to watch. It was a good defensive match, a good defensive struggle. It felt like an old Big Ten basketball game… just grinding it out and being physical. The good thing is that we can win matches like that, we have the ball control as far as the defensive control to give us that.“
Illinois is now 3-2 on the season, and will come back home for the Illini Classic this week. The Illini will play a total of three matches against the Arizona State Sun Devils, Washington Huskies, and Texas Longhorns.
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