McMahon keys sweep in volleyball
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The No. 4 Illinois volleyball team hit a season-high .392 Friday in rolling past the host school at the Middle Tennessee State Invitational.
Freshman right-side hitter Liz McMahon had eight kills in 10 swings as the Illini swept the Blue Raiders 25-21, 25-16, 25-18 to improve to 7-0.
Illinois' previous high in attack percentage this year was .298 against St. Mary's on Aug. 27.
Illini setter Annie Luhrsen (37 assists) found plenty of attack options against MTSU (2-4) as four of her teammates delivered eight or more kills.
"It was a really well-rounded game," UI coach Kevin Hambly said. "We finally got some production out of our right side. Lizzie did a really nice job and helped spread things out.
"Annie did great getting it to the middles and keeping the defense honest, and our outsides both hit over .300, so when you do all that it's going to be tough to beat."
Senior outside hitter Michelle Bartsch produced a match-high 14 kills for the Illini while hitting .303. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Week moved into the UI's all-time top 10 in kills with 1,205 for her career, overtaking Erin Borske (1,192).
Illini senior outside hitter Colleen Ward added 12 kills and hit .385. Ward also finished with a team-high nine digs.
Junior Erin Johnson and redshirt freshman Anna Dorn gave Illinois strong performances in the middle. Johnson had nine kills and two block assists. Dorn added four kills in seven swings to go with three block assists.
Junior defensive specialist Jackie Wolfe contributed three service aces to the win. Wolfe, who ranked second on the 2010 Illini in aces, entered Friday's match with one this season.
"Jackie finally got on a little bit of a roll tonight," Hambly said. "Over the last few years, she has been one of our best servers as far as point scoring, but she struggled a little bit at the start of this year. She did a nice job tonight of putting pressure on them and finding the seams."
Illinois will conclude the tournament today with matches against Cal Poly at 12:30 p.m. and Tulsa at 7:30 p.m.
In women's soccer:
Illini stumble. No. 20 Illinois yielded a season-high four goals in losing to No. 13 Pepperdine 4-2 at the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, La.
Sophomore forward Megan Pawloski scored the Illini's first goal in the 56th minute to cut Pepperdine's lead to 2-1, but the Wave responded with the next two goals to put the match out of reach. Redshirt freshman forward Jannelle Flaws added Illinois' final score on an assist from Pawloski.
"We were beaten by a team that was better in the penalty box on both ends and worked harder in the counter-attack moments in both directions," coach Janet Rayfield said after her Illini fell to 5-2-0. "We created some quality chances early but failed to capitalize and found ourselves playing from behind again. I hope we learn that, against top-level competition, the game is won and lost in the box."
Pepperdine improved to 6-0-1.
In women's cross-country:
Illini dominate. Led by winner Maddie Aufmann, Illinois had the top four finishers and five of the top six en route to the Bradley Open title in Peoria.
Aufmann finished the 3-mile race in 17 minutes, 13 seconds. The junior was directly followed across the finish line by teammates Katie Porada (17:17), Meghan Frigo (17:22) and Colette Falsey (17:23).
Nevolo ranked seventh. Illini senior Dennis Nevolo is ranked seventh in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason men's singles rankings, which were announced Friday. Nevolo earned his first All-America award last season.
Junior Rachael White is the top-ranked Illini in women's singles at No. 67. The UI women also had two ranked doubles teams, led by the No. 37 tandem of Breanne Smutko and Chelcie Abajian.