Bastianelli Breaks Career Blocks Record as No. 7 Illini Blanks Wildcats
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The No. 7 Illinois volleyball made quick work of Northwestern in a 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 2513 sweep on Saturday (October 6) night at Huff Hall, with the victory highlighted by senior Ali Bastianelli breaking the Illinois all-time total blocks record.
Entering the match, Bastianelli needed only three blocks to break Johannah Bangert’s record of 653 total blocks and after tying the mark with stuffs in the opening set, the senior made history with her next block in the third. The Marysville, Michigan native now owns 656 blocks in her Illini career.
Junior Jacqueline Quade paced the Illini (15-2, 4-2 B1G) with a match-high 11 kills on a .269 hitting percentage, while Bastianelli and sophomore Megan Cooneyeach added seven kills – with the senior posting a .545 hitting percentage and the sophomore registering a .312 attack clip. Junior Ashlyn Fleming also recorded five kills with no errors on seven swings for a .714 hitting percentage.
Bastianelli led all players with five blocks on the night, with Quade equaling a season-high with four stuffs in the win.
Senior Jordyn Poulter notched her 31st career double-double and seventh of the season with 26 assists and 11 digs, while leading the Illini to a .372 team hitting percentage.
As a team, the Illini totaled seven service aces with Poulter and sophomore Emmaline Walters each turning in two.
Defensively, sophomore Morgan O’Brien posted a match-high 14 digs in the match as the Illini held the Wildcats (10-8, 0-6 B1G) to a .034 team hitting percentage.
The Illini got out to a quick 4-1 start behind the serve of O’Brien, but the Wildcats came back to knot things at 7-7. The Illini then strung six-straight points together to build a 13-7 lead following a Fleming kill. NU responded with three-unanswered points, before UI used a 10-1 run – including four points on the serve of O’Brien and four on the serve of freshman Taylor Kuper – to take a 23-11 advantage, before a Bastianelli finished off the first at 25-13.
A kill from redshirt-junior Beth Prince and back-to-back Poulter aces broke an early 6-6 tie in the second set as the used a 5-1 run to grab an 11-7 edge following a Fleming kill. The Wildcats pulled within two at 13-11, but three-straight scores on back-to-back Bastianelli kills and a Quade and Bastianelli block pushed the lead back to 16-11. From there, the Illini used four-straight points to take control at 24-16 as Fleming wrapped the 25-17 second set with a kill.
The Illini continued their dominance into the third with an 11-4 start to the set, before four-straight scores pushed the lead to 15-6 on a NU attacking error. Another Wildcat error gave the Illini a 10-point edge at 20-10 as the two teams traded points until a Bastianelli and Cooney block sealed the sweep with a 25-13 set win.
Illinois returns to the road next weekend with a trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a Friday (October 12) night match at No. 5 Minnesota, before heading to Madison, Wisconsin to take on No. 6 Wisconsin on Saturday (October 13). Both matches are set for 7 p.m. CT.