No. 11 Penn State women’s volleyball lost to Illinois 3-1 (19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 23-25) Wednesday night at Huff Hall in Champaign, splitting the season series with the Fighting Illini after sweeping them on October 9.
Kash Williams led the Nittany Lions (17-5, 6-5 Big Ten) with 15 kills in the loss, while freshman outside hitter Alexa Markley had a career-high 14 kills and hit .333 in her third straight start. Zoe Weatherington joined them in double figures with 10 kills.
Illinois outside hitter Raina Terry was excellent in leading her team to victory, tallying a match-high 24 kills on a .380 hitting percentage. Illinois hit .300 as a team to Penn State’s .220, outblocked the Nittany Lions 15-10, and finished with a 5-2 advantage in aces. It was the first ranked win of the season for Illinois.
Penn State’s starting middle blockers, Allie Holland and Katie Clark, combined for 11 kills against the Fighting Illini, but neither was particularly efficient from a hitting percentage standpoint. Leisa Elisaia had 39 assists, nine digs, two blocks, and a kill, but Illinois setter Diana Brown narrowly edged her out with 41 assists.
Junior libero Maddy Bilinovic had a match-high 13 digs and defensive specialists Gillian Grimes and Cassie Kuerschen combined for 13 more. Williams, Kuerschen, and Anjelina Starck (five digs and one kill) were Penn State’s only substitutes of the match. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series against Illinois 50-13.
Penn State will regroup in practice before hosting No. 6 Ohio State (14-5, 10-1 Big Ten) Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Rec Hall in a televised match on Big Ten Network. The Buckeyes swept Michigan, which received votes in the latest AVCA poll, Wednesday night in Columbus.