Upset Bid Falls Short Against No. 16 Illinois


Nov. 7, 2008

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IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa fell in four sets to 16th-ranked Illinois Friday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 25-20, 11-25, 23-25, 22-25. The Hawkeyes drop to 13-12 overall and 5-8 in Big Ten play. Illinois improves to 19-5 overall and 10-3 in conference action.

“We just couldn’t get it going after that first set,” Head Coach Sharon Dingman said. “We need to find a more consistent attack offensively. Illinois is a great team and we need to have more kills in a four-set match. We have another top-25 opponent in Purdue tomorrow, so that will be a great chance to rebound.”

Senior Catherine Smale and junior Megan Schipper each had 16 kills, while Schipper added 12 digs to record a double-double. Senior Kiley Fister had 29 assists and senior libero Emily Hiza chipped in 20 digs.

Iowa stormed out to an early 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-20 win in the first set. Redshirt sophomore Becky Walters led the team with four kills and a .429 attack percentage.

The Hawkeyes led for the majority of the match, with Illinois managing to tie the score only once. Iowa gained a 10-5 advantage, but Illinois battled back to within two at 16-14. The Hawkeyes used an Illinois service error for a three-point cushion at 17-14, and kept the lead until a 3-0 run, capped by a Smale kill, forced a Fighting Illini timeout at 22-19. Illinois managed one more point at 22-20, but two-straight kills from Walters along with an Illinois error ended the set.

Illinois tied the match with a 25-11 second set win. The Fighting Illini hit at a blistering .750 clip to take the frame. Smale and Schipper each had four kills in the loss.

The Fighting Illini put Iowa in an early deficit at 12-6, and used a late 6-1 run for a 21-9 lead. Illinois closed the set with a 4-1 surge.

Iowa saw a late lead slip away in the third set, falling 25-23. Smale led the Hawkeyes with six kills on a .545 attack percentage.

The Hawkeyes grabbed a 12-6 lead at the start, but Illinois kept things close, using three-straight Laura DeBruler kills to come within two at 17-15, forcing a Hawkeye timeout. Iowa regained a four-point lead at 20-16. Illinois then knotted the score at 21 with a 4-1 run. The Fighting Illini knotted the score again at 22, but took the lead for good at 23-22. Iowa fought off one set-point chance at 24-23, but an Iowa error gave Illinois a 2-1 match lead.

Iowa lost a close fourth set, 25-22. The final stanza saw 11 ties and two lead changes. Schipper had four kills in the frame.

The teams kept things tight in the fourth set, with the score either being tied or separated by one point in 29 of the 47 total rallies, including 23-straight rallies. Illinois finally gained a two-point lead at 19-17, and the Hawkeyes took a minute timeout. Sophomore Aimee Huffman brought the Hawkeyes within a point once again at 19-18, but Illinois held on to the lead and saw its first match point at 24-20. Two-straight Iowa points made things interesting at 24-22, but a DeBruler kill wrapped up the match.

Iowa returns to action Saturday when it faces No. 18 Purdue at 7 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Admission is free to fans that show their ticket stub from Iowa’s football game against Penn State.