Volleyball primed to move up to No. 1

MADISON, Wis. — Kevin Hambly is not worried about Illinois' lofty ranking, which currently sits at No. 3 in the country.

That could change when the AVCA poll is released Monday.

Illinois, which improved to 13-0 with a 3-0 sweep at Wisconsin on Sunday, could be primed for a move to the top of the polls after the top two teams — No. 1 Cal and No. 2 Stanford — both suffered not one but two losses to Pac-12 foes.

"We don't put much stock into it because it doesn't mean much right now," said Hambly of the possibility of being ranked first. "It would be nice to get the recognition if it were to happen and any publicity is good, so the fans and media will get excited about it."

The Illini, one of three D-I unbeatens along with No. 13 Purdue and Northern Arizona, has never been ranked higher than No. 2. That happened the week of Sept. 6, 1988.

On the court Sunday, the Illini breezed to a 25-18, 25-17, 25-22 victory against the Badgers thanks to 12 kills from Colleen Ward. Michelle Bartsch added 10 kills and 10 digs for her third straight double-double.

In women's soccer:

Penn State blanks Illini. No. 22 Illinois suffered its first shutout of the season Sunday, wrapping up a program-record five-game road stretch by losing 1-0 at Penn State.

The Illini (6-4-1, 0-2-1) had a 13-12 shot advantage, but the Nittany Lions got the lone goal of the match in the 39th minute.

"I am proud of the fight we showed today," Illinois coach Janet Rayfield said. "Through the first 20 to 25 minutes we played some of the best soccer we have played this season, but we need to make it count in terms of finding the back of the net.

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jgrout wrote on September 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The Pac-12 weekend road trips (played Friday night, Saturday night or Friday night, Sunday afternoon) to UCLA and USC and to Stanford and Cal are two of the most brutal in the nation... even Final Four-caliber visiting Pac-12 teams are often 1-1 (and sometimes even 0-2) on those weekends. Even so, going 0-2 should push Cal and Stanford down far enough in the AVCA poll to allow Illinois to become #1, but AVCA poll voters have minds of their own.