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Illinois Athletics | October 20, 2018

College volleyball: No. 7 Illinois tops No. 13 Michigan in five sets as Bastianelli becomes Big Ten career blocks leader

Illinois Athletics big ten volleyball

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.

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.

RELATED: No. 9 Wisconsin tops No. 5 Nebraska in five sets

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.

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.

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