Hambly: 'I still like this team'

Hambly: 'I still like this team'

CINCINNATI — The Illinois volleyball team's season-long quest to rise above .500 was thwarted again Saturday.

No. 24 Louisville outbattled the No. 20 Illini 25-18, 23-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-9 in the finale of the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.

Illinois (3-4) split its two Challenge matches. The Cardinals (8-1) went 2-0 while extending their winning streak to six.

"I still like this team," UI coach Kevin Hambly said. "We just have to mature."

All four Illini losses have come against opponents currently in the Top 25, with two of the setbacks coming in five sets.

Two Illini were named to the all-tournament team: sophomore middle blocker Anna Dorn and redshirt freshman outside hitter Jocelynn Birks.

Dorn had nine kills in 17 swings and had eight block assists against Louisville.

"Anna was a beast up there. They couldn't touch her at times," Hambly said.

Birks followed her 25-kill performance on Friday against Cincinnati with a team-high 13 kills.

Senior outside hitter Lola Arslanbekova led Louisville with 22 kills but committed 13 hitting errors. With Dorn, Erin Johnson (eight blocks) and Liz McMahon (eight blocks) at the forefront, Illinois outblocked the Cardinals 16-9.

"Our block was good at times and, more importantly, in order to give ourselves a chance, we held Lola down," Hambly said. "Anna and Liz both had really good matches and did a great job of doing what they were supposed to against Lola. ... We just didn't execute in other phases of the game."