No. 25 Illini lands fourth straight win with EIU sweep

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CHARLESTON, Ill. – 25 Volleyball from Illinois picked up its fourth straight win with a midweek sweep at Eastern Illinois on Wednesday night. Caroline Barnes recorded a career-high 21 digs while Jessica Nunge racked up 14 kills to lead Illini’s offense.

Wednesday’s win pushed Illinois to a 5-3 record this season, including a 3-1 record in real road games. The win lifted the Orange and Blue to 20-4 in all-time meeting against Eastern Illinois.

Kyla Swanson took the first swing of the game to give the Illini a 1-0 lead in the first frame. After trading a few points, the Illini saw back to back Kyla SwansonKayla Burbage block assists to double the Panthers at 10-5 and force an EIU timeout. From there, Illinois took a 15-8 lead before a 4-0 run from Eastern Illinois made it 15-12. The Orange and Blue fought back using a 6-0 run to open a 22-13 lead and would eventually take the frame, 25-15. The team had four aces, 15 digs and held the Panthers to a -.074 clip.

Illinois took an early 6-3 lead in the second set and forced Illinois East to use an early timeout. Coming out of the break, the Panthers battled to tie the frame at 7-7 before beating the Illini by double digits. The frame would see three lead changes with 11 ties, but Illinois collected five of the frame’s last six points to secure a 25-23 win.

With a 2-0 lead in the game, the Illini again forced an early EIU timeout with a quick 5-1 advantage. Illinois took a 16-8 lead before the Panthers tied the set at 22-22. From there, Burbage hit for a kill to give the Illini the edge for good. On the next point, Burbage teamed up with Swanson for another block to give Illini the match point. An EIU error would secure the match.

From the service line, Illinois collected eight aces, led by four from the hand of Jessica Nunge. The Illini have scored eight or more aces four times this season.

Along with his aces and kills (14), Nunge operated at .367 offensive efficiency while adding four digs and two blocks.

kennedy collinsBurbage and Raina Terry each added eight wins in the win. Burbage and Swanson led the Illini with six blocks apiece while Collins made five.

Caroline Barnes racked up a career-high 21 digs – the first 20-dig performance of his career. The outing marked the first slack 20 effort by an Illini player this season.

Brooke Mosher also tallied double-digit digs, ending in 10.

Collectively, the Illini’s defense held Eastern Illinois to a .059 hit percentage. Illinois has now held two of its last three opponents below .100 while keeping its last four opponents at or below .150 efficiency.

Diana Brown delivered 37 assists while collecting three digs.

This weekend, the Illini will wrap up the regular season non-conference game in Milwaukee, Wis., with games against Illinois State and No. 19 Marquette. Games are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Remarks:
– Entrances: kennedy collins, Diana Brown, Kyla Swanson, Kayla Burbage, Caroline Barnes, Raina Terry and Becca Sakoda.
– Illinois swept their third straight game of the season and have now won 12 straight sets.
– The Illini wore orange long-sleeved jerseys for the fourth time this season and are now 3-1 while wearing them.
Caroline Barnes collected a career-high 21 digs — the first 20-dig outing of his career.
– Illinois is 20-4 against Eastern Illinois. Wednesday’s tilt was the teams’ first meeting since 2005 and the first game in Charleston since 1995.

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