COLUMBUS, Ohio — Illinois’ volleyball team took a long road in its quest to be considered for the NCAA tournament.
On Friday night, it arrived.
The Illini (15-12, 11-6 Big Ten) defeated Ohio State 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 25-20, their sixth consecutive victory. With the win, Illinois is guaranteed of finishing with at least a .500 record — the required mark to be eligible for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
“It was a win we needed to get,” UI coach Kevin Hambly said. “It makes us eligible for the tournament. ... It should mean we can stop worrying about that and be able to focus on getting ready for the NCAA tournament. You never know, of course, but we’re pretty confident about our place.
“I talked to the girls after the Iowa match and said, ‘We’ve got to win the next five matches,’ and for them to take that goal on, it’s a pretty big deal, especially with the teams that we’ve knocked off.“
Jocelynn Birks and Morganne Criswell each had 15 kills to lead the Illini, who play tonight at Penn State.
“We got to the middle early, and they were giving it up,” Hambly said. “We attacked, attacked, attacked, and then they started taking it away, and so we went away, and it opened up Jocelynn.”