Nov. 26, 2011
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa volleyball team fell to No. 7 Illinois, 3-1, Saturday night inside Huff Hall in its regular season finale (25-16, 25-22, 18-25, 25-20). Three Hawkeye seniors, Megan Eskew, Mallory Husz and Tiffany Nilges, competed in their final match. They were honored by Illinois following the match. Eskew recorded 11 kills and seven digs. Husz tallied nine kills and Nilges notched 13 kills and seven digs.
“I am so proud of our team,” said head coach Sharon Dingman. “We played so well. At this point we did not have much to play for other than pride and heart, and that is what we are made of. I was so proud of the Hawkeyes tonight. In the end, Illinois was just a little too big for us to manage. We did everything we could.
“We have a lot that we can look forward to. This was a very gutty performance by us tonight, and if that is what we carry into the offseason, then I think the Hawkeyes are in really good shape.”
Illinois (27-4, 16-4) opened the match with a 25-16 victory in set one. The two teams traded points back-and-forth to open the match. Leading 12-9, the Fighting Illini went on a 5-2 run to extend their lead to 17-11 and finished the set with an 8-5 run to claim the opening set. Dailey led Iowa with 10 assists in the frame and freshman Alex Lovell tallied five kills. Dailey, Nilges and Yeager each recorded three digs.
Iowa (11-22, 1-19) led the majority of set two, before Illinois rallied to claim a 25-22 victory. The Hawkeyes led throughout, before the Fighting Illini grabbed their first lead after the set was tied 22-22. Leading 23-22, Illinois claimed the final two points to take a 2-0 match lead. Iowa led by as many as five, at 12-7 and 14-9. Yeager notched eight digs and Dailey added 11 assists.
The Black and Gold claimed the third set, 25-18, cutting the Illinois lead to 2-1. With the set tied 1-1, Iowa scored the next three points and never looked back. The Hawkeyes never trailed after that. Dailey led the Hawkeyes with 15 assists and freshman Emily Yanny recorded four kills. Nilges notched five kills.
Iowa grabbed an early lead in the fourth set, marking the third-straight set the Hawkeyes held a lead. Illinois took its first lead at 8-7. Iowa answered, going on a 6-2 run to force an Illinois timeout with the score 13-10. The Hawkeyes extended their lead to 14-10, before the home team scored three-straight points to cut the lead to 14-13. Following a timeout, the Fighting Illini finished on a 12-6 run to claim the 3-1 match victory.
Lovell finished with 13 kills to become the first Hawkeye freshman since 2005 to surpass 300 kills in a single season. Lovell finished the season with a team-high 312 kills. Dailey finished the season with 1,152 assists to become the first Hawkeye to reach 1,000-plus kills since 2008. Yeager’s 22 digs raised her season total to 527, the highest single season total in five years.