Illini Volleyball Advances To NCAA Round Of Eight
The Fighting Illini volleyball team is one win away from the Final Four after dispatching Marquette in straight sets Friday at Huff Hall in Champaign.
It’s the furthest the Illini have advanced in the NCAA Tournament since a national runner-up finish in 2011.
Junior Jaqueline Quade led the Illini with 12 kills. After the match she said the biggest difference in this year’s team is confidence.
“In prior years, I think, at least me personally, during tight situations I would doubt myself a lot," Quade said, "and I think this year just how hard we’ve trained and all the things we’ve done leading up to these moments, I think gives us total confidence just in each other and ourselves, that there’s not a whole lot of the doubting.”
Head coach Chris Tamas said senior setter Jordyn Poulter was the key to the Illini attack.
"Some setters have certain tendencies, they say they’re gonna set one way. Jordyn doesn’t have that," Tamas said. "You can literally put her anywhere, and she can distribute the ball where she needs to.”
Poulter finished the match with 27 assists. She was a first-team all-Big Ten selection this season, and the conference's co-Setter of the Year.
Despite an 11:00am weekday start, 3,330 fans packed Huff Hall to watch the match.
The Illini will face Wisconsin Saturday at 3:00pm. The winner advances to next weekend's Final Four in Minneapolis. Wisconsin beat San Diego 3-0 in the second match of the day.
Illinois and the Badgers split a pair of matches during the regular season, with each team winning on the other's home court.
With the win, Illinois improved to 31-3 this season, the team's first 30-win season since 2011.