ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The No. 23 Illinois volleyball team battled, before falling in a four-set (17-25, 26-28, 25-23, 23-25) setback to Michigan on Wednesday (November 24) in Cliff Keen Arena.
The Illini (19-11, 11-8 B1G) had three players with double figure kills, led by season-high 22 kills from sophomore Raina Terry – just one kill off a career-high – to go along with nine digs, while graduate student Megan Cooney turned in 16 kills on a .256 hitting percentage and junior Jessica Nunge added 12 kills on a .360 attack clip.
Redshirt-junior Diana Brown registered her 38th-career double-double and 14th of the season with 49 assists and 10 digs, with senior Taylor Kuper posting a match-high 20 digs – the 16th 20-dig match of her career and freshman Caroline Barnes also notching 10 digs in the match. At the net, juniors Kennedy Collins and Kyla Swanson led the team with two blocks each.
After trading points to open the match, the home team used a 7-1 run to build an 8-2 advantage, before pushing their lead to 13-3 with five unanswered scores. The two teams then exchange points over the next several rallies until three-straight UI scores started a 7-3 run to pull the visitors to within 22-16 following a Terry kill. The Wolverines responded by converting three of the final four points to take the opening stanza, 25-17.
Michigan continued its momentum into the second with an early 5-1 edge, but four-straight points from the Illini equaled the score at 5-5. It was back-and-forth from there until the two teams traded runs as three-straight scores from the home team broke a 10-10, but the Illini came right back with a 3-0 run of their own to again knot the score at 13-13. Michigan then answered with a 4-0 rally to take a 17-13 lead. Trailing at 18-14, the Illini then stormed back with a 7-2 run to take a 21-20 advantage, highlighted by three-straight Nunge kills. Michigan then took three of the next four points for set point at 24-23, but back-to-back Illini points gave the visitors a set point of their own. UM responded with back-to-back scores for its second set point of the stanza, but a Terry kill stalled the rally until two-straight Wolverine kills sent the home team to the 28-26 score in the second.
The Wolverines scored the first three points of the third set, but the Illini quickly tied things up at 5-5, before the home team responded with a 6-2 run to take an 11-7 advantage. The Illini answered right back with their own 5-1 run as a Nunge ace knotted the score at 12-12. From there, the period saw 11 ties until Illinois broke a 23-23 tie with a Collins solo stuff combined with an UM hitting error for a 25-23 win in the third.
Four-straight points for Michigan started the fourth as the home team built a 9-4 advantage. Back-to-back kills from Collins and Nunge brought UI within two at 9-6, but the Wolverines responded with a 7-2 run to push ahead at 16-8 midway through the period. Despite the deficit, the Illini used a 5-2 run to cut the UM lead to five at 18-13. The Wolverines continued to lead at 20-14, but the Illini again battled back with another 6-2 run to pull within two at 22-20 following a Kuper ace. After the two team exchanged service errors, an UM kill set up match point at 24-21. Kills from Terry and Nunge would fight off two match points, before Michigan finished off the 25-23 set and the 3-1 win with a kill of their own.
Illinois next wraps up its Michigan road trip on Friday (Nov. 26) as the Illini travel to East Lansing, Mich., to take on Michigan State in its regular season finale at 6 p.m. CT.
wraps up the regular season with a trip to the state of Michigan, traveling to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on Wednesday (Nov. 24), before heading to East Lansing for a Friday (Nov. 26) night match against Michigan State. First serve for both matches is set for 6 p.m. CT.
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