CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois volleyball team was picked to finish 8th in the Big Ten preseason poll released on Wednesday. Wisconsin was the unanimous selection to win the league, the Badgers are the top ranked team in the country heading into this weekend’s opening matches. Wisconsin visits Champaign next weekend.
The Illini are set to open up their season on the road at Iowa this Friday and Saturday. There are several questions coming into the season, as now fourth-year head coach Chris Tamas looks to replace five starters from his 2019 team that finished 16-14. Tamas has made the NCAA tournament every season at Illinois, including a Final 4 run in 2018.
Playing in the spring will be a whole new dynamic for the Illini, who will face the same opponent twice in one week at the same location. Traditionally, teams play two matches against different teams in the same weekend. The Big Ten postponed the fall season to now, with league teams only playing each other. The Illini returned to campus in the summer and have spent the past six months practicing.
“From our team perspective, I appreciated the time because we had a big transition with our roster and we’ve got a lot of new faces out there that need to learn how to gel together and play together and figure out who goes where. So from a coaching standpoint, I totally appreciated the extra time to train and get better.”