Volleyball Puts Win Streak To Rest

Sept. 11, 2004

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - No. 16 Illinois did what no other team has been able to do in nearly two years. The Fighting Illini defeated the top-ranked USC women's volleyball team, 3-2 (30-24, 24-30, 12-30, 27-30, 8-15), in the final match of the State Farm Illini Volleyball Classic on Saturday, Sept. 11.

In front of 2,969 screaming Illini fans, USC dropped its first match since Nov. 2, 2002, putting an end to its NCAA-record 52-match win streak.

'Illinois put immense pressure on us from the start and I was very proud that we were able to fight back,' said USC head coach Mick Haley. 'Our young team has had to carry a big load. We are happy with the effort we gave today and now it's time to learn from this and move forward.'

Prepared for one of the biggest matches in program history, Illinois came out in game one with a powerful attack. USC had a difficult time stopping the Illini's offense due to poor passing. For every two Trojan points, Illinois responded with three and four of its own leading to a 30-24 game one win.

Game two was a game of runs. The Women of Troy took a 6-0 lead to start the set, but soon after the Illini put together an outstanding 10-0 run to take a 14-9 lead. The Trojans responded with a 7-0 and 4-0 run of their own to get back on top, 20-15. That final run seemed to make the difference as USC maintained the lead en route to a 30-24 decision.

It was a fresh start for the Women of Troy who came back from the break much more poised. USC held control of game three from the start, leading by as much as much as 15 points, 22-7, before winning 30-12 to take a 2-1 match lead.

But the night was far from over and game four was a battle from the start. With a tie score at 10-10, Illinois embarked on a 7-0 run that proved to be the deciding point. The Women of Troy tried to catch-up, even holding Illinois at match point for four points of their own, but the Illini closed out a 30-27 win and sent the match into a deciding fifth game.

USC attempted to make adjustments in game five, but nothing seemed to work. Illinois sprang out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back. The Illini closed out the night with a 15-8 win.

All-tournament pick Emily Adams led the team with an outstanding effort. The senior middle blocker hit .613 for the match and tallied 20 kills and seven blocks. Junior Staci Venski put together a career-high and match-leading nine blocks, while Bibiana Candelas tied her career-best with eight blocks. Defensively, the team was led by Alicia Robinson who contributed a personal-best 19 digs. Keao Burdine added 15 kills and was also named to the all-tournament team with a 3.6 kills per game average.

Up next, the Women of Troy travel to Columbia, S.C., for the South Carolina Invitation, Sept. 17-19, where they will face Notre Dame, Michigan State and host South Carolina.

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