Final: Illinois 3, Purdue 0
The No. 25 Illini (14-12) extended their winning streak to five with a 25-18, 25-18, 25-21 Big Ten victory against No. 18 Purdue.
Morganne Criswell belted a match-high 11 kills to lead an Illini attack that hit a season-high.389.
Middle blocker Maddie Mayers was near perfect on the attack, the Illini redshirt freshman finishing with seven kills in eight swings.
Libero Jennifer Beltran had nine digs to lead Illinois to a 32-25 edge in that area.
The Illini improved to 10-6 in the Big Ten with the win.
Check back later for a complete game story.
Set 2: Illinois 25, Purdue 18
Hero: Liz McMahon
The Illini right-side hitter went 4 for 6 on attack attempts and added two block assists..
Goat: Purdue hitters
The Boilermakers finished with a meek .156 attack percentage in Set 2. The Illini's defense at the net (four blocks) had something to do with that.
What I'm thinking:
-- Could Illinois be heading for a sweep of the No. 18 Boilermakers? If so, they'd finish the weekend with a 6-0 run in sets win after sweeping Indiana.
-- Even in November, it sure gets toasty in Huff Hall when there's a big crowd.
-- Morganne Criswell (nine kills) is getting plenty of help from a diverse Illini attack. McMahon, Jocelynn Birks and Maddie Mayers each have six kills. Mayers is hitting a torrid .857 with six kills in seven swings.
-- Purdue's Catherine Rebarchak is one of the hardest hitters I've seen in college volleyball. And I've been covering the Illini since 1996.
Set 1: Illinois 25, Purdue 18
Hero: Morganne Criswell
The junior outside hitter belted six kills in 10 swings and fueled the Illini's set-winning surge. With Illinois leading 14-12, Criswell had a hand in her team's next five points with four kills and a block assist.
Goat: Purdue servers
The Boilermakers gave Illinois five points with service errors.
What I'm thinking:
-- Illini attack was on fire in Set 1, hitting .500 in 26 swings.
-- Illinois getting the middle blockers involved in the attack. Maddie Mayers and Anna Dorn have combined for four kills in five swings.
-- Huge crowd tonight. There were multiple promotions for free youth admissions tonight, and anyone who attended the UI-Ohio State football game got in free with their ticket stub. Purdue has a sizeable student section here, too. Not as large as UI's Spike Squad, of course.
-- Boilermakers weren't shabby on offense either in Set 1, hitting .312. Purdue boasts some really powerful hitters.
Welcome to our live report from Huff Hall for tonight’s Big Ten volleyball match between No. 25 Illinois and No. 18 Purdue.
Despite those national rankings, the Illini (13-12) hold the upper hand on the Boilermakers (16-10) in the conference race. Winners of its last four league matches, Illinois enters tonight alone in fourth place in the standings at 9-6. Purdue, coming off a loss Friday night at Northwestern, stands in a three-way tie for seventh place at 7-8.
While the Illini have been on the rise recently, the Boilermakers have lost three in a row and four of their last five. Before this slide, Purdue had won four straight, including an impressive victory at Nebraska, currently in second place and ranked No. 9.
When the Illini and Boilermakers met on Oct. 11 at Purdue, Illinois lost in four sets, but that hardly hints at what a battle it was. The Boilermakers prevailed 29-31, 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 in a match that UI coach Kevin Hambly felt was the Illini’s for the taking, but his team didn’t produce at critical moments.
He will tell you Illinois has become better at that since, and the recent winning streak is proof.
Friday night’s victory against determined Indiana was the most recent example, the Illini pulling out a hard-fought 28-26, 25-18, 25-22 decision at Huff Hall.
During the match, senior libero Jennifer Beltran recorded 13 digs to increase her season total to 405 — a figure that ranks 10th on the UI single-season digs list. Beltran, the program’s career record-holder for digs, now owns four of the top 10 single-season marks in school history.
Ashley Edinger (2006-09) appears on the same list three times, but no other players are in the top 10 more than once.
Speaking of accomplished liberos, Carly Cramer returned to the Purdue lineup Friday night following a two-match absence with an unspecified injury. The redshirt senior led the Boilermakers with 23 digs against Northwestern.
Purdue has won four in a row and five of the last six meetings with Illinois, so the Illini should be motivated to halt that trend tonight. Of course, the fading Boilermakers have plenty of incentive, too, as they try to get back on track.
We’ll provide updated reports after each set, so be sure to check back periodically.