TOKYO (WCIA) — Team USA Volleyball won it’s first Olympic gold medal on Saturday night, with three former Illini leading the team to the top of the podium. Jordyn Poulter, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, and assistant coach Erin Virtue were all a part of the historic finish at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Poulter led the way as the starting setter, with 36 assists to lead USA to a three set sweep over Brazil (25-21, 20-20, 25-14). Outside hitter Bartsch-Hackley had 14 kills. USA has been to the gold medal match four times, but had never won gold until now. In 2016, USA won the bronze medal in Rio.
Poulter and Bartsch-Hackley are some of the most decorated players to ever come through Illinois. Poulter was the 2018 Big Ten Co-Setter of the Year was a three-time All-American with the the Illini. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was one of the most well-rounded stars in Fighting Illini volleyball history. Hall of fame outside hitter Bartsch-Hackley earned AVCA Third-Team All-America honors in 2010 and 2011, and helped lead Illinois to the national championship match in 2011. Virtue played at Illinois from 2001-2005 as an All-American setter, and has been a full-time coach with USA Volleyball since 2018.