Illini volleyball watch parties turn from elated to stunned

Illinois volleyball fans came out to three different Final Four watch parties across Champaign on Thursday. Their mood turned after winning the first two sets, and fans filed out in stunned silence after the Illini lost to Nebraska in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

'It's kind of a bittersweet match'

MINNEAPOLIS — John Cook knows a thing or two about volleyball. The Nebraska coach has his team in a third national championship match in four years after Thursday's five-set win against Illinois, and the Cornhuskers will be playing for their fifth title since he took over the program in 2000.

Stunning ending to season leads to outpouring of emotions for Illini

MINNEAPOLIS — Jordyn Poulter tried to fight the tears that welled in her eyes.

It was a hit-or-miss proposition.

They were there even if most of them — through some real effort — ultimately remained unshed.

Postcards from the beat writer: 'A fire hazard in the making'

MINNEAPOLIS — The pep rallies for each team at the Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis was a fire hazard in the making. Fans from each Final Four team poured into the sports bar starting before 4 p.m. with BYU supporters, creating a logjam as they passed each other entering and exiting the venue. It also led to some interesting interactions.

Quick reaction: Nebraska 3, Illinois 2


Illinois looked unstoppable in the first two sets as Jacqueline Quade demolished Nebraska. But the Cornhuskers refused to yield and ultimately stunned the Illini in five.


LIVE! Final Four

MINNEAPOLIS — Illinois looked poised to advance to its first national championship match since 2011. But a 2-0 lead on defending champions Nebraska didn't hold up. The Cornhuskers rallied, taking a 22-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-11 victory to advance to Saturday's championship match against Stanford.

UI Volleyball vs. Nebraska: NCAA National semifinal

Nebraska defeated Illinois in five sets in their NCAA volleyball tournament semifinal match at Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.

Tamas, assistants in line for raise

Illini coaches are set to get raises or contract extensions at Friday's special meeting of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in Chicago. Besides LOVIE SMITH's two-year contract extension, announced last month, here are a few highlights:

Tamas validates he was right man to lead turnaround

MINNEAPOLIS — A little more than 48 hours passed between the time Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman emailed Chris Tamas to gauge his interest in interviewing for the open Illini volleyball job and the former Big Ten assistant landing his first head coaching job.

What's on their wish lists?

Men's basketball

At the top of their wish list is ... another win over rival Missouri. The Illini seek six straight wins over the Tigers on Dec. 22. Mark Smith switching sides added some juice to what might have been an otherwise dull game. Mizzou is 6-3 but hasn't beaten anyone of substance, and Illinois (3-7) is off to a slow start.