Illinois falls in Sweet 16

Illinois falls in Sweet 16

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Illinois fought off three Michigan State match point opportuntiies, but an ace Autumn Bailey — a strength the entire match — gave the Spartans the fourth set victory and a 25-23, 18-25, 25-17, 29-27 victory in the Sweet 16 against the Illini.

Jacqueline Quade and Megan Cooney provided the offensive spark for Illinois with 16 and 14 kills, respectively. Brandi Donnelly paced the Illini with 22 digs, and Jordyn Poulter had 40 assists, seven digs, five blocks and three kills.

Donnelly is the only senior on the Illinois roster, with every other player set to return after a 23-11 finish this season.

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Michigan State's 25-17 victory in the third set has the Spartans back in the driver's seat against Illinois in the Sweet 16 matchup between Big Ten rivals. The Illini now have to win the final two sets to pull off the come-from-behind victory.

That is, of course, familiar territory for Illinois after winning each of its last three matches in five sets. 

Sophomore outside hitter Jacqueline Quade now leds the Illini with 10 kills. Megan Cooney has nine, Beth Prince eight and Tyanna Omazic seven. Michigan State's Brooke Kranda leads all players with 13 kills.

Listen along with Dave Loane on WDWS 1400-AM as the match continues.

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Illinois bounced back in a big way in the second set, taking an 18-10 lead on Michigan State. Then the Illini had to dig (no pun intended) a little deeper as the Spartans proved difficult to put away.

But back-to-back kills by freshman opposite Megan Cooney finished off a 25-18 second set victory to tie the Sweet 16 match at 1-1. Cooney leads the Illini through two sets with seven kills as part of a continued balanced attack that has Jacqueline Quade and Beth Prince with six kills each.

Illinois' lone senior — libero Brandi Donnelly — leads the team with 12 digs, while junior setter Jordyn Poulter has 17 assists.

The match will continue after the break on WDWS 1400-AM.

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Strong defense — particularly at the net with the combined block of Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli — had Illinois leading early in the first set of its Sweet 16 match with Michigan State.

The Spartans' persistent attack and tough serve turned the tide midway through, and they rallied for a 25-23 victory in the first set to take a 1-0 lead. Holly Tolliver led Michigan State with five kills, while Illinois had a balanced attack with Jacqueline Quade, Tyanna Omazic, Megan Cooney and Beth Prince putting down three kills apiece.

Keep following along with the match on WDWS 1400-AM.

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The Illini (23-10) are facing Big Ten rival Michigan State in today's Sweet 16 matchup in State College, Pa.

Dave Loane is on the call on WDWS 1400-AM. Listen to the match here.

The winner takes on Penn State at 7 p.m. Saturday.