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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Volleyball hosts No. 25 Illinois for its 3rd ranked opponent

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Marquette Volleyball in its 3-0 win over University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Sept. 11.

No. 19 Marquette welcomes the No. 25 Illinois Fighting Illini into the Al McGuire Center Saturday night for a Top 25 Matchup as part of the Marquette Invitational.

It is the third ranked opponent of the season that the Golden Eagles will face, but the first at home.

“I watched some of Illinois last weekend and they serve really aggressive, they’re physical,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “We’ll have our hands full for sure.”

Marquette enters Saturday’s match on a five-game winning streak and a 7-1 record, with its only loss coming to then-No. 6 Wisconsin.

The Golden Eagles jumped from No. 23 to No. 19 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings Monday after going 3-0 last week defeating Loyola University Chicago, LSU and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles lost just two sets across the three matchups.

“We’re starting to string together more high level plays,” Theis said. “(We’re) still not completely consistent, but we’re starting to see more.”

In the all-time series against Illinois, Marquette is 0-5. It’s most recent match was in 2019 when both teams were ranked in the Top 15, with Marquette being ranked No. 7 and Illinois being ranked No. 14 at the time. Saturday’s match marks the second straight ranked matchup between these teams in the regular season.

The Illini returns two players from that last matchup, redshirt senior setter Diana Brown and senior middle blocker Rylee Hinton. Meanwhile for the Golden Eagles, they have no players who played in the last matchup.

Prior to the match against Marquette, Illinois will play in-state foe Illinois State at 10 a.m. inside the Al McGuire Center before the nighttime match against Marquette.

A look at the Fighting Illini

Illinois comes into Saturday with a 5-3 record and are on a four-game win streak, which they’ll look to extend to one more game before playing Marquette. Their three losses have come against then-No. 9 Georgia Tech, Colorado and then-No. 14 Washington. In those losses, Illinois won just one combined set.

The service line is one of the areas where Illinois excels as it averages 2.1 aces per set, which ranks 33rd in the country through games Sept. 13.

In the 2022 Big Ten volleyball preseason poll Illinois was ranked 6th in a tie with Michigan. Junior outside hitter Raina Terry was the one player from Illinois to be named to the 2022 Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Team.

Illinois has a hitting percentage of .231 on the season and has held its opponents to hitting .196. The Fighting Illini also average 2.5 blocks per set while the Golden Eagles average 1.9 blocks per set.

Key Players

  • Reina leads Illinois in service aces with 16 and also leads them in kills per set with an average of 3.52. She’s ninth in the Big Ten in average points per set with 4.18.
  • Hinton has the most blocks this season for the Fighting Illini with 30. She also has experience against the Golden Eagles, as in the last matchup Hinton had four blocks and five kills.
  • Junior outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton is averaging 3.28 kills per set during Marquette’s five-game win streak. Hamilton is a  six rotation player for the Golden Eagles and is averaging 1.80 digs per set and has six service aces on the year.
  • Sophomore setter Yadhira Anchante leads the Golden Eagles in service aces this season with 13. The two-time National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 National Player of the Year is also Marquette’s primary setter averaging 10.03 assists per set.

How to Follow

This story was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at b[email protected] or on Twitter @benschultz52.

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