Freshman Bastianelli Hits .643 in Sweep
WICHITA, Kan. – In a contest that saw just one tie in its entirety, No. 7 Illinois handily took care of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the first match of the day at the Shocker Volleyball Classic. The Fighting Illini improved to 6-1 on the fall with the victory, while SDSU fell to 1-11 this season.
“It was nice to get some more people into the action,” stated head coach Kevin Hambly. “We were able to use Ali Bastianelli a little bit more and get her going more offensively and we got Lex out there as well, who, once she settled down, did a really nice job. It was good to get all of those girls out there and give Jocelynn and Jordyn some rest.”
To open the match, Illinois jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and never looked back, en route to the 25-15 first set victory. UI had two seven-point runs in the frame to secure the set. The Orange and Blue tallied 15 kills in the frame and just three errors on 37 attacks for a .324 hitting percentage. Michelle Strizak served up a pair of aces in the set, while Ali Stark posted a match-best seven digs.
The only tie of the match occurred in the second set as a Stark kill put Illinois on the board first followed by a Strizak attack error to make it 1-1. The Orange and Blue fired off four quick points before trading with the Jackrabbits a few times. SDSU used a timeout at 13-5 and then again at 18-6, but couldn’t find a way to stop Illinois. The Fighting Illini unit went on to take the set by a mark of 25-9, the first time holding an opponent to single-digits this season. The last time Illinois accomplished the feat was in the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 5, 2014, when Illinois beat Murray State by the same margin.
Ali Bastianelli opened the third set on a tear, posting two quick kills to give Illinois a 2-0 lead that it would never be in question. The Fighting Illini opened up a 16-7 advantage to force a SDSU timeout. Illinois went on another run to a 22-11 lead before Katie Roustio added the final touch with a kill to win the set 25-14.
As a unit, Illinois hit .412 in the match, and had three players record hitting percentages at .500 or better. Bastianelli led the effort with a .643 outing that included nine kills on 14 attempts, Stark posted a .583 reading with seven kills and Alexis Viliunas had one kill on two attempts. Bastianelli’s reading of .643 is the best individual mark by an Illinois player yet this year.
Additionally, Roustio turned in a .440 hitting percentage with 12 kills (career best) on 25 attempts. Katie Stadick hit .400 in the match with seven kills to one error on 15 swings.
Jordyn Poulter started the match at setter and recorded nine assists and then handed the job off to Viliunas, who finished with 29 assists in her first 2015 action.
Bastianelli had the lone solo block on the day for Illinois. Stadick had a hand in all seven of the Illini’s tandem blocks.
Illinois rattled the Jackrabbits’ serve-receive with a season best seven aces in the contest. Stark and Strizak both tallied a pair, while Danielle Davis, Allison Palmer and Brandi Donnelly each added one of their own. Donnelly also led the Illinois defense with 13 digs in the contest, followed by Davis and Stark who each tallied 11.
“Defensively I thought we did a really nice job and handled everything well,” shared Hambly. “All in all, the thing that I like most about the match is that we showed SDSU respect by playing hard and competing the entire time.”
Quick turnaround for Illinois, who will return to the Charles Koch arena for its second contest of the day to take on the host, Wichita State in an 8 p.m. CT nightcap that will air on ESPN3.