LIVE! Marquette

LIVE! Marquette

FINAL BOX SCORE

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois exceeded expectations a year ago when it made the Sweet 16 in Chris Tamas' first season as coach. The Illini have done so again all season. From their second-place finish in the Big Ten (again not projected) to Friday's Sweet 16 victory against Marquette and a spot in the Elite Eight for the first time since the 2011 run to the national championship match.

Illinois methodically took the Golden Eagles apart on Friday at Huff Hall for a 25-19, 25-21, 25-16 sweep. Jacqueline Quade led the way with 12 kills, Ashlyn Fleming had 10, Ali Bastianelli and Beth Prince finished with seven apiece and Megan Cooney chipped in six in the epitome of a team effort.

The Illini (31-3) will play Wisconsin at 3 p.m. Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.

The Badgers cruised past San Diego on Friday afternoon, winning 25-13, 25-16, 25-10.

Illinois and Wisconsin split the season series, each winning on the road. The Illini's victory, on Oct. 13 in Madison was win No. 1 on the current 16-game winning streak.

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Illinois 2, Marquette 0

Marquette made it a little bit closer in the second set (Allie Barber got going), but Illinois still managed to pull off a 25-21 victory to take a 2-0 lead on the Golden Eagles. Jacqueline Quade is still leading the way for the Illini with 10 kills, but the balance behind her is building. Ali Bastianelli and Beth Prince have six kills apiece, and Ashlyn Fleming and Beth Prince have four each.

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Illinois 1, Marquette 0

Illinois is fine with a balanced attack and can pull that off more often than not. Sometimes, though, you've just got to feed the hot hand (and sometimes you have to). In the first set? That was junior outside hitter Jacqueline Quade. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native had eight kills in the first set to lead the Illini to a 25-19 win. Ali Bastianelli, who had the winning kill, chipped in five on five swings with no errors (a 1.000 hitting percentage).

Illinois' block also played a factor in the first set win. The Illini had 2 1/2 total team blocks, and even if they didn't get the block a touch was often just as good. It helped neutralize 6-foot-5 Marquette outside hitter Allie Barber, who had three kills and two errors on 12 swings (a .083 hitting percentage).

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Good morning everybody. That's right. A hearty good morning from Huff Hall where third-ranked and third-seeded Illinois is about 30 minutes away from first serve against No. 14-seeded Marquette in the Sweet 16 at Huff Hall.

The Sweet 16 round has sort of been a roadblock for Illinois save for the 2011 season and Mike Hebert's teams in the late 80s and ealry 90s. This was as far as the Illini got last year in Chris Tamas' first season — a Sweet 16 loss to Big Ten rival Michigan State.

There's another Big Ten team here in Champaign, but a potential third match with the Badgers wouldn't come unless both teams win today. The Illini and Marquette are up first with an 11 a.m. first serve (not ideal) followed by Wisconsin and San Diego.

It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd makes it to Huff. The Spike Squad will be out in force, and I imagine the Networkers, too, but an 11 a.m. start means the more casual fan will probably be at work. But you play the hand that TV deals, and today's start time was 100 percent decided by the folks at ESPN.

While you're waiting for first serve (and then more updates right here) catch up on our coverage from this week. We're all in at the N-G on the Illini in the NCAA volleyball tournament.

Ashlyn Fleming has filled key need for Illini

Beat writer Scott Richey breaks down the regional field

Huff Hall is the place to be today

Asmussen: Spike Squad supplies electric vibe at Huff

Mike Hebert's letter to the Illini

Shorter, focused practices help Illinois stay fresh

Jordyn Poulter's leadership as integral as her skill

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