Final: Washington 3, Illinois 1
The Illini lost to the Huskies 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13 at Huff Hall in their second match of the Illini Classic.
More on tonight's will be posted later on IlliniHQ.
Third Set: Washington 25, Illinois 19
Hero: Krista Vansant.
The Illini continue to struggle to contain the talented Huskies outside hitter. Vansant had six more kills in 12 swings in the third set and is up to 16 kills, with only one error, for the match.
Goat: Liz McMahon
Tough set for the Illini outside hitter, who took 14 swings and cashed in on only two. She also had three errors.
What I'm thinking:
-- The Illini will need to go to five sets to pull this one out. They're 2-0 in five-setters this season.
-- Too many overpasses by Illinois in Set 3 (four, by my count) that Washington jumped on. That's one reason the outcome was in the Huskies' favor.
-- It's easy to see why Washington is so highly regarded as a serving team. Have made it tough on Illinois much of the night from behind the serving line.
-- The streak of never having lost a Stuff Huff match is on the line from here on out for Illinois.
Second Set: Illinois 25, Illinois 22
Hero: Anna Dorn
The Illini middle hitter played a major role in helping to even this match. She had four kills in five swings (with one error) and recorded two block assists.
Goat: Washington's defense
Wasn't much of it as Illini attack ran roughshod, racking up 16 kills in 34 swings and hitting .382. Illinois had hit .182 in Set 1.
What I'm thinking:
-- After the second set, the Illini have to believe they belong on the court with No. 6 Washington. Outplayed them significantly. Final score is deceiving because Illinois had a hard time closing it out after leading 24-18.
-- Liz McMahon, who had 23 kills against Arizona State earlier today, got off to a slow start in this match but is gaining steam. She had five kills in 10 swings in Set 2 and is up to eight kills for the match.
-- We mentioned Illinios' serving problems in Set 1, but Washington is now up to seven service errors, although the Huskies also have five aces. No surprise there. Washington leads the nation in aces.
First Set: Washington 25, Illinois 21
Hero: Krista Vansant
The Huskies outside hitter is a hitting a highly efficient .455. In 11 swings, she has five kills and no errors.
Goat: Illini servers.
Illinois already has three service errors. Against a team that leads the nation in aces -- and had two in this match -- that won't do.
What I'm thinking:
-- As expected, Anna Dorn is back on the court for Illinois. The middle blocker was withheld from today's first match as coach Kevin Hambly continues to be careful with her comeback from knee surgery.
-- Defensive specialist Julia Conard was in the opening rotation for Illinois and is doing the job. She has a match-high seven digs.
-- Another typically big crowd for the Illini's annual Stuff Huff promotion. It's unseasonably cold outside, but with all the body heat in here, it's toasty inside.
Quite a stunner in the second match of the day at the Illini Classic. Just a few hours after absorbing a grinding five-set loss to Illinois, unranked Arizona State swept No. 2 Texas 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 at Huff Hall.
Given the circumstances, and given the Longhorns' lofty ranking, this was completely unexpected. If this wasn't a fluke, Illinois' victory over the Sun Devils looks all the more impressive.
It also puts a different spin on the No. 14 Illini's matchup with Texas on Saturday night. If ASU could beat the Longhorns -- and beat them decisively -- is there any reason to think Illinois can't have a similar outcome? We shall see.
In the meantime, the Illini faced a difficult task that will begin in about a half-hour. See below.
It's worth noting that Sun Devils star hitter Macey Gardner, who had such a rough performance against Illinois that she was benched after the third set, came back with a vengeance against Texas. Gardner belted 17 kills and hit .389.
The No. 14 Illini will go for their second win of the day tonight as the Illini Classic continues at Huff Hall.
After outbattling Arizona State in five sets earlier Friday, Illinois (4-2) will take on No 6 Washington (4-0). This is a quick stop for the Huskies, who plan to be in Chicago on Satuday to watch their Washington football counterparts play Illinois at Soldier Field.
Then, before flying back to Seattle, the Huskies will play a second volleyball match on Sunday against Loyola in Chicago.
Illinois' serve-receive game will need to be on its toes tonight. Entering the week, Washington led the nation in service aces with 34. In two exhibition matches last weekend against the Canadian National Team, the Huskies had 15 aces.
Illinois' own serve game played a big role in the win against Arizona State. Led by senior defensive specialist Courtney Abrahamovic, who had three aces, the Illini racked up seven. The Illini have totaled at least seven aces in each of their last three matches.
Tonight is the annual Stuff Huff Promotion, which last year drew 3,770 fans. The Illini had a surprisingly large crowd for their first game of the day, which started at 10 a.m. Helped by hundreds of grade-school students from Urbana, as well as a turnout by students, faculty and staff in the UI's Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, the match against Arizona State drew 1,658 fans.
Besides serving, Washington is potent on the attack, too. The Huskies' .351 hitting percentage entering the week ranked second in the NCAA. Sophomore middle blocker Melanie Wade is hitting .509 and ranks sixth nationally.
After the ASU match, coach Kevin Hambly -- who notched his 100th career win at Illinois -- indicated that middle blocker Anna Dorn would be in the lineup against Washington. Hambly is trying to reduce the stress on Dorn's surgically repaired knee had decided not to play her in more than one match per day. He did the same thing when Illinois played twice Aug. 30 to open the season.