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Friday December 9, 2011NCAA Gainesville Regional Semifinal: Illinois 3, Ohio State 1

Gainesville, Fla.

Illinois and Ohio State dueled for each point of the match, but the Buckeyes fell short, falling 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-19) to the Fighting Illini in the first match of the Gainesville Regional Semifinal. Ohio State’s Emily Danks had a match high of 20 kills, and teammate Amanda Peterson led both teams with 50 assists. Illinois’ Jennifer Beltran registered a match-high 26 digs, and teammate Michelle Bartsch earned a team-best 18 kills. The Fighting Illini out-blocked Ohio State by one, with a team total of seven blocks.

 

Overall Match Notes

·         The Fighting Illini battled back after dropping the first set to defeat the Buckeyes, 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-19)

·         Illinois improves to 30-4 on the season, while Ohio State finishes the year, 21-15.

·         Both teams totaled 59 kills in the match, with Ohio State outdigging the Illini, 64-63, but Illinois led 7.0-6.0 in blocks, 6-2 in service aces and outhit the Buckeyes .233-.201.

·         The Illini defeated the Buckeyes for the third time in as many meetings this season, running their winning streak over Ohio State to eight straight matches

·         With the win, Illinois maintains its edge on the all-time series, 38-34.

 

Illinois Team Notes

·         The Fighting Illini advance to the NCAA Regional Final for the first time since 1992 and the fifth time in program history

·         Illinois has played in the NCAA Regional Semifinals in each of the past three seasons, but lost all three matches

 

Illinois Individual Notes

·         Michelle Bartsch led the Illini with 18 kills, adding eight digs, an assist and a service ace for a total of 19.0 points.

·         Colleen Ward was a dig shy of a double-double, earning 18.0 points on 15 kills, nine digs, two blocks, two aces and two assists.

·         Annie Luhrsen earned 43 of the Illini’s 51 assists in the match.

·         Jennifer Beltran led the back row with 26 digs, while Rachel Feldman added 10 more and four assists

 

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Ohio State Team Notes

·         The Buckeyes fell in the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the second year in a row.

·         Ohio State has not advanced to the Regional Finals since 2004.

 

Ohio State Individual Notes

·         Emily Danks earned a double-double, leading both teams with 20 kills and adding 10 digs, two aces and two assists, while hitting .405.

·         Mari Hole also earned a double-double, with 12 kills and 12 digs, while adding two solo blocks and four assists.

·         Amanda Peterson helped the Buckeyes earn more assists than Illinois, tallying 50, while hitting .625 (5-0-8) and stuffing three blocks

·         Sarah Mignin anchored the Buckeyes’ defense, earning 21 digs, and Davionna DiSalvatore added another 13.

 

Post-Match Quotes

Illinois Head Coach Kevin Hambly

Opening Statement

“I’d like to congratulate Ohio State on getting into the Sweet 16 and the way they played tonight. We’ve seen them a lot and they played at a really high level. It wasn’t our best match, but I’m proud of the girls for figuring out a way to win. That’s what it’s about. We talked about that a lot; we’re not always going to be at our best but we have to be the best we can be on this given night. I felt like they had to fight through some things and figure out a way to win and I’m proud of the effort tonight. I’m proud they persevered.”

 

On how team is different from his past few Sweet 16 teams:

“I think we have more talent. I think we are also tougher. We talked about needing to play tougher, to be tougher and to define what that is. Toughness is staying in the moment and fighting the distractions. When people think of tough, they think of something physical – taking a punch, or fighting an ankle sprain. To me, real competitive toughness is when things aren’t at your best, and you’re being distracted by your performance or getting blocked, and you fight through that and perform and execute well. I thought tonight was definitely not our best match and they had to fight really hard to make that happen. We struggled at times, but I‘m proud of how tough they were.”

 

On mistakes in match:

“We made more errors than we have the past few weeks. Our blocking was a little bit sloppy. We didn’t serve as tough as we normally do. I think everything was just out of sync. I think they were nervous. It’s a big match. It’s the NCAA tournament and they looked jittery, especially in the first set.  I think it showed up in our play because we made errors that are uncharacteristic of this team. We’ve been very low-error, especially in the last three weeks. We’re going to have to play that way tomorrow so I hope we got over the nerves and are able to keep up the tough play.”

 

On difference in preparation versus Florida or Michigan:

“We know Michigan, we’ve played them several times and they’re a great team. We’ve only seen Florida on tape. It’s a challenge with Florida because we know nothing about them. We have 26 videos of Michigan, so we know what they’re going to do and they know what we’re going to do. It’s going to be about execution. With the Florida match, we’re going to have to figure out things on the fly and make adjustments, the same way we had to do in the first two rounds. We're prepared for both and we know Florida as well as we’re going to know them.”

 

On Jennifer Beltran’s performance:

“I asked her where she was on the first set because she wasn’t making plays and she talked about how nervous she was. After that, she made some plays that I’ve been seeing her make all year. She really steadied us out. We made some mistakes on blocking on defense and she erased those mistakes with great plays. I credit her to being extremely tough because I thought she was really struggling tonight in that first set.”

 

On the class of seniors and them carrying Illinois through tonight:

“Colleen (Ward) certainly didn’t have her best match, but she had some big kills and big serves. I thought (Michelle) Bartsch was really steady for us. At one point, it was 15-14 in the fourth set and she was the only one that had a kill. She had six kills when no one else was scoring. She kept us in that set and gave us a chance to figure things out.”

 

Illinois Senior OH Michelle Bartsch

On Ohio State’s performance:

“They gave it their all tonight. They out-worked us through a lot of points in our match. We didn’t play the best that we could, but I’m glad we found a way to win. We’re ready for the next step.”

 

On scoring with different types of plays:

“That’s what I’ve been working on the entire season. It’s nice that it’s actually happening now. I’ve worked really hard to be able to take different shots.”

 

On the team’s performance tonight versus the past three seasons:

“It’s a whole different feel. It’s a different group of girls and I think we’re a really tough team and we’re going to face a lot of adversity and we know that. We played really well tonight.”

 

Illinois Sophomore L Jennifer Beltran

On the Illinois defense:

“Defense is something we emphasize a lot with our team. It’s something that wins matches. It’s something that we work on a lot, so I had to show up.”

 

On playing Ohio State again:

“When it gets to tournament time, you see a different team. Even if you’ve played them before, they’re going to come out with different tricks or new things. That’s what we have to expect because everyone’s going to bring their best.”

 

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Ohio State Head Coach Geoff Carlston

Opening Statement

“I brought my two seniors up here because when they first got here, our first season we were 3-17. These guys have taken me for a great ride and I really appreciate everything they’ve done, so they belong up here even though they may not want to be up here. It was a great match. After going to game four, statistically, everything was equal – it was insane. Congratulations to Illinois for moving on. I thought we were prepared; our players played awesome. I thought they had some big plays and big moments. I think they (Illinois) will be a worthy representative if they make it to the Final Four. I’m really proud of our players and our team. I’m disappointed obviously, as they are, but I think we had a great season and I’m really proud of how these two players, and especially and what our team, did as a whole.”

 

Ohio State Senior L/DS Sarah Mignin

On her career at Ohio State:

“I can’t describe it – it’s been a long four years. I’m a nursing major so it’s really hard to balance the two, but I did it. I only did it because of the coaches and the girls I had beside me. My first year as a freshman, we went 3-17, and I usually don’t like to say that because it’s really embarrassing. Going from a team that was 3-17 and didn’t even make it to the tournament, we lost in the second round the second year, and now here we are going to the sweet 16 back-to-back. I couldn’t ask for a better department, better coaches, or better teammates and players. It’s been a really awesome ride and I’m really sad it’s over. I’m ready to move on, but I can’t believe I just played my last game.”

 

Ohio State Senior MB Kelli Barhorst

On her tenure as a Buckeye coming to a close:

“Starting out 3-17 was quite different for me. We knew that we were going to get better, and throughout my career that’s what has happened to us – we got better every single year. Tonight, it felt really great being out there and playing with the girls. Even though it was our last time, it was awesome just connecting and talking, enjoying the moment and being in the moment. I can’t thank my coaches and players enough for everything they have done for me.”

 

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