The West Virginia volleyball team made its NCAA tournament debut Friday but was defeated in four sets by the Illinois Fighting Illini to end its season.
The Mountaineers (19-10, 8-8 Big 12) came out hot in their first action in the NCAA tournament, taking the first set 25-23, but Illinois (21-11, 12-8 Big 10) was able to win the final three sets with scores of 25-12, 25-22 and 25-20, respectively.
Offense wasn’t an issue for most of the match for the Mountaineers, but unforced errors plagued West Virginia’s performance, as in many matches this season.
Right-side hitter Adrian Ell completed her time with the Mountaineers with a team-high 19 kills, which is her highest total of the season. Ell also added 12 digs and two blocks defensively.
Fourth-year setter Lacey Zerwas led the passing for West Virginia with 45 assists, along with six digs.
Defensively the Mountaineers’ errors and miscues hurt them, with the team in total committing 22 errors compared to Illinois’ 19.
Defensive specialist Alexa Hasting, in her final match, was able to record a team-high 26 digs, along with middle blocker Emmy Ogogor amassing three blocks.
For the Fighting Illini, they capitalized on mistakes on both sides of the court, and they hit the ball at a very high clip.
Illinois had four players in double digits kills, with outside hitter Raina Terry leading the team with 18 kills on a 31% hitting percentage. Overall, Illinois hit at 31% hitting percentage compared to West Virginia hitting at only 18%.
The Fighting Illini’s leading passer was setter Diana Brown with 53 assists, along with 14 digs and three blocks.
Illinois’ defensive effort played a big role in it clinching a spot in the next round, with defensive specialist Taylor Kuper recording a team high 26 digs.
Middle blocker Kyla Swanson also made a huge impact on the front line, recording five blocks, alongside her teammates middle blocker Kennedy Collins and outside hitter Megan Cooney who each added on four blocks.
This match marks the end of West Virginia’s historic 2021 season and its first NCAA tournament appearance.