CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — No. 7 Illinois volleyball pulled out a gutsy five-set (25-22, 24-26, 26-24, 23-25, 15-13) victory over No. 13 Michigan Friday night at Huff Hall.
The Illini (17-3, 6-3 B1G) had four players reach double figures, with senior Ali Bastianelli leading the way with a career-high 19 kills on a .417 hitting percentage to go along with a match-high seven blocks. With those seven stuffs, the Marysville, Michigan native became the Big Ten Conference and Illinois career block assists leader with 618 block assists.
Congrats to @Big_Al_5 on becoming the all-time @B1GVolleyball & @IlliniAthletics career block assists leader!#KidBlock now owns 6️⃣1️⃣8️⃣ block assists and 6️⃣7️⃣3️⃣ total blocks. 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/1yzAAsMSEc— Illini Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) October 20, 2018
Joining Bastianelli in double figures was junior Jacqueline Quade with 18 kills, redshirt-junior Beth Prince with 14 kills and junior Ashlyn Fleming with 13 kills on a .476 hitting percentage.
Senior Jordyn Poulter moved into third place program history with 4,493 career assists after handing out a career-high 63 assists to go along with 17 digs, four blocks, four kills on a .571 attack clip and two service aces. It was her second-straight double-double, 10th of the season and 33rd of her career.
As a team, the Illini posted a .235 hitting percentage — including a .545 attack clip in the fifth set — while holding the Wolverines (17-3, 6-3 B1G) to a .185 hitting percentage.
Defensively, sophomore Morgan O'Brien notched a team-high 22 digs, with freshman Taylor Kuper adding a career-high 18 digs in the win.
Huff Hall was rockin' tonight with that fifth set magic. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/vIvo7uviDl— Illini Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) October 20, 2018
After both teams split the first four sets, the match entered the decisive fifth set with the Illini grabbing an early 4-2 lead on a Fleming kill. The Wolverines answered with three-straight points, before a Prince kill tied things at 5-5. With the score still tied at 7-7, the Illini took a 10-7 advantage on the strong serve of sophomore Kylie Bruder. A Quade kill put the Illini ahead at 11-8, but a 5-2 run from the visitors tied the score at 13-13. The Illini responded with Quade kill to set up match point, before taking the 3-2 victory on a Wolverine attack error.
After a block from Poulter and Bastianelli put the Illini up early at 5-3, the home team continued to lead at 12-8 following an UM hitting error. The visitors then used an 8-2 run to take a 16-14 advantage, but UI responded with three-straight points — capped by a Poulter ace — to pull ahead at 17-16. From there it was back-and-forth with six ties until the Illini broke a 22-22 tie with three-straight scores to finish off the opening set, 25-22.
The Illini again grabbed a quick edge as Poulter and Bastianelli teamed up for a block for the 10-6 lead. The Wolverines then strung five-straight points together for the 11-10 advantage, with the home team answering back with five-straight points of their own to retake the edge at 17-14. Another 4-1 UM run then tied things up at 19-19 as the two teams traded points before a Fleming kill gave the Illini set point at 24-22. The Wolverines then fought back with four-unanswered scored to tie the match with a 26-24 set-two win.
The Illini scored the first four points of the third en route to an 8-3 lead, before pushing their advantage to 11-5 on a Quade and Fleming stuff. The visitors battled back with a 10-2 run to take a 15-13 lead midway through the period. UI then tied the score five times, before the Wolverines broke a 20-20 score with three-straight points, but the Illini jumped on an UM service error with back-to-back Bastianelli and Quade kills and a Kuper ace to earn set point at 24-23. A Kuper service error then tied the score at 24-24, before back-to-back kills from Poulter and Bastianelli sealed the 26-24 win in the third.
It was a tight start to the fourth as an Illini service error gave the visitors an 11-9 edge, before a 6-1 run — including five-straight scores — propelled the Illini to a 14-11 advantage. UI continued to hold its lead with a Fleming kill making it 18-15 before Michigan retook the edge with seven-straight points for a 22-18 score. The Illini pulled within one three times, but the Wolverines finished off the 25-23 fourth set with a kill.
Illinois continues its three-match homestand on Saturday (October 20) when the Illini host Michigan State for the annual Pink Match in Huff Hall. First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT and all fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match.