Illini volleyball finding its identity

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois volleyball team is finding its identity. After an up-and-down weekend that saw the Illini go 1-2, the team snapped a four-game losing streak by upsetting No. 7 Marquette at the Redbird Classic.

“I’m really proud of how they worked through it, and what they figured out as a team,” Illinois head coach Chris Tamas said. “You don’t want any loses of course, but you’re going to have to take some lumps here and there, and as long as they’re working hard, it’s a good thing in my book.”

No. 19 Illinois lost its first match to the host Redbirds on Friday, before dropping another 3-1 match to UCF Saturday morning. It was the first time the program had lost four straight matches since 2016. Coming off a run to the Final 4 and a historic season, the Illini say they’re still learning how to play together on the court.

“We really had to create our new identity as a team,” Illinois senior middle blocker Ashlyn Fleming said. “Last year we didn’t have really a loss until later on, so it’s kind of nice towards the beginning so we can kind of work through it now, and then really kind of go in strong to the rest of the year and build off what we learned.”

Illinois is back in action this weekend at the Bulldog Brawl, hosted by Butler. The Illini will face Pacific on Friday and Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

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