Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Doorstep

The Illini volleyball program has been on trajectory to land in a national championship game for the past few years. And with a win over USC in five sets Thursday night to make it to Saturday's national title game, Coach Kevin Hambly has his team on the doorstep of their first NCAA title.

The semifinal match was tough. USC held on to win the first set 27-25, but with strong blocking and powerful hitting, the Illini took the next two sets. In the forth set, the Trojans took control near the end to force a fifth set. The Illini fought hard to pull even, and finally pull ahead 10-9 with fantastic hitting from freshman Liz McMahon. The Illini ended up winning the final set - and the entire match - on an incredibly long, hard-fought set-point volley.

The whole match was intense, and very well played. Senior outside hitters Colleen Ward and Michelle Bartsch did their thing, combining for 49 kills. But this was a team win, with key contributions all around the court.

As tired as I am after watching that match, I can only imagine that the girls are exhausted, but they have 2 days to get ready to play UCLA for the NCAA title. The Lady Bruins swept Florida State in the first match of the evening.

So Saturday, after enjoying the annual United Center basketball game, be sure to catch the national championship game.

Go Illini!


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