Live from Huff Hall: Illini sweep Iowa State 3-0
No. 19 Illinois dominated the third set to finish off a sweep of No. 15 Iowa State 25-16, 25-22, 25-16 Friday night in the Illini Classic.
Redshirt freshman Jocelynn Birks led a balanced Illini attack with 13 kills, while Liz McMahon contributed 11 kills and Morganne Criswell 10.
The Illini hit .343 while holding Iowa State to .096.
Illinois won the blocking battle, 7-4, behind Ann Dorn's five block assists.
The Illini and Iowa State (1-3) will square off again at 4:30 p.m. today in the finale of the Classic.
Illinois won Set 2 25-22 to take command of the the best-of-five match, 2-0.
The Illini rode the hot arm of Morganne Criswell. The sophomore outside hitter belted six kills in 10 swings, raising her match-high total to nine kills.
Illinois took the lead for good at 11-10 on a Jocelynn Birks kill, which started a 3-0 Illini run. Liz McMahon followed with a kill and Annie Luhrsen with an ace.
Iowa State drew within one point five times after that, the last at 22-21. Then, Birks and Criswell responded with consecutive kills to put Illinois with a point of winning the set, and Criswell later belted a set-clinching kill.
Led by Criswell's .562 attack percentage, Illinois is hitting .333 for the match. Iowa State is at .131.
Illinois scored 11 straight points to take control of the first set en route to a 25-16 win.
The Illini trailed 15-12 before going on their extended run. Liz McMahon, who started the surge with a kill, contributed two kills and three block assists as Illinois built its lead to 23-15. Dorn had a kill and four block assists.
After Iowa State's Rachel Hockaday ended the Illini run with a kill, Illinois quickly finished off the set with back-to-back kills by Dorn and Morganne Criswell.
Illinois hit .345 in the first set and outblocked the Cyclones 5-2. Iowa State, which had nine hitting errors, had a .068 attack percentage.
Welcome to our live updates on Illini volleyball from Huff Hall.
The No. 19 Illini will play their home opener tonight against No. 15 Iowa State in the Illini Classic. There's a new format this year for the tournament. Instead of four teams playing a round-robin or championship-bracket schedule, Illinois and Iowa State are the only teams entered and will square off tonight and Saturday (4:30 p.m.).
Before tonight's match, Illinois will unveil the NCAA Championships runner-up banner they earned last December in San Antonio while advancing to the national title match for the first time in program history.
Tonight's also is the seventh annual Stuff Huff Match. With this being a holiday weekend and many student headed home, it's uncertain how big of a turnout this match will have. Might need more of a turnout from the C-U community and area towns to make up the difference.
Fans entering the Huff Hall gym for the first time this school year will immediately notice some changes. The old banners that used to hang from the rafters have been replaced by new, more modern-looking ones. Besides volleyball, there are banners for wrestling and gymnastics, which also hold theri home matches here.
The north wall has eye-catching orange panels for each sport, listing that program's All-Americans, national award winners and national champions. The lower south wall is covered with the words Fighting Illni on either side of the central exit door. Thre also is a new-look scoreboard on the south wall and a smaller scoreboard iat the north end on the front of the elevated photographers' well.
Illinois and Iowa State both enter with 1-2 records following season-opening tournaments last weekend. This will be their first regular-season meeting in 30 years, bugt the teams have played the past few years in the spring, with those matches played in the Quad Cities.
For most Illini fans, this will be the first chance to see outside hitter Jocelynn Birks, who redshirted as a freshman last season. Birks led the Illini with 44 kills in three matches last at the Flyer Classic in Dayton, and she ranks fourth among Big Ten players in kills per set with 4.40.
Sophomore middle blocker Anna Dorn was the lone Illini to make the Flyer Classic all-tournament team. Dorn hit .375 with 18 kills and nine block assists in the three matches.
We'll provide updates after every set of the match tonight so be sure to check back. For what it's worth, Illinois never has lost a Stuff Huff match since the promotion started in 2006.