Coach Kevin Hambly and his team will play the first match of the 2016 season this Friday evening at Huff Hall. The Illini will face off against Arkansas to kick off this year's Illini Classic. Xavier and Missouri State will also be on hand for the weekend tournament.
While the end of the 2015 season saw the departure of many familiar faces, the 2016 team is ready to compete in what looks to be an exciting season.
Without further ado, we present your 2016 Fighting Illini Volleyball team.
Michelle Strizak - Outside Hitter
Strizak saw action in all 34 matches last season, starting six contests and playing in 112 sets. She also ranked second on the team with 336 kills, averaging 3.00 per set. Strizak was named both Big Ten Player of the Week and Illini Classic Most Valuable Player during the 2015 season, and she received Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
Naya Crittenden - Opposite SIde Hitter
Crittenden made her Illini debut in the 2015 season after spending her first two collegiate seasons at the University of Oregon, seeing action in 29 matches and starting 20 for the Orange and Blue, playing in 95 sets. She ranked fourth on the team with 173 kills on the season, averaging 1.82 per set while hitting at .206.
Danielle Davis - Defensive Specialist
Davis started 16 of the 25 matches she saw action in as a junior. She totaled 133 digs for a 1.87 digs per set average, as well as 13 assists and eight service aces. Davis also earned both Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
Katie Roustio - Outside Hitter
Roustio saw action in 19 matches as a junior, registering 119.5 points, 106 kills, 22 blocks and 16 digs. She put eight kills down against Miami (OH) on 17 attempts for a .353 hitting percentage. Roustio also earned recognition as Academic All-Big Ten.
Katie Stadick - Middle Blocker
Stadick played in all 34 matches as a junior, starting all but one match and seeing action in 120 sets. She totaled 301 kills to rank third on the team, averaging 2.51 per set and hitting at a .305 clip. Stadick was named Most Valuable Player in the 2015 Shicker Classic and received Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
McKenna Kelsay - Defensive Specialist
Kelsay was sidelined for most of the 2015season due to an injury, however she received recognition as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten. Kelsay has been known on occassion to sing the National Anthem at the opening of home matches.
Allison Palmer - Defensive Specialist
Palmer saw action in all but one match her Junior year, utilized as a serving specialist. She tallied 22 digs, five service aces and four assists on the season. In addition, Palmer earned both Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
Brandi Donnelly - Defensive Specialist
Donnelly is the only Illini that started all 34 matches in 2015, playing in the libero position. She recorded the sixth-most digs in a season with 530 in 2015, averaging 4.34 digs per set which sits seventh-best in a single season. Donnelly was twice named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and received Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
Jordyn Poulter - Setter
Poulter started 29 of the 32 matches she saw action at the setter position, playing in 104 sets. She totaled 1,088 assists, 223 digs, 81 blocks, 56 kills, 12 service aces while hitting .241. Poulter was named Illinois Female Newcomer of the Year, Big Ten Setter of the Week, and Big Ten Freshman of the Week (twice).
Ali Bastianelli - Middle Blocker
Bastianelli played in all 34 matches last season, starting all but one. She led the Illini, ranked second in the Big Ten, and placed 11th in the nation with 167 total blocks. Bastianelli was named both Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the Week in early November.
Blayke Hranicka - Middle Blocker
Hranicka played her freshman year at North Carolina State. She started all 32 matches and appeared in all 119 of the team’s sets, and she led the team with 409.5 points scored, the most by a freshman in program history. Hranicka received 2015 All-ACC Freshman Team honors.
Annika Gereau - Defensive Specialist
Gereau hails from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where she was a four-year letter winner and three-time MVP for her Winneconne High School team. She also played softball for Winneconne High School, where she was a two-time MVP, a three-time All-Conference Team selection, and the team captain.
Jacqueline Quade - Outside Hitter
Quade comes to Illinois from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where she was a four-year letter winner at Carroll High School and 2015 team captain. She earned First-Team All-Northeast Indiana and Northeast Hoosier Conference First-Team All-Conference honors in 2013 and 2014.
Beth Prince - Outside Hitter
Prince used the 2015 season as a redshirt year. A four-year player for Avon High School under head coach Scott McQueen, she led the Orioles to back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013, as well as a state runner-up finish in 2011. Prince was also one of two athletes in the nation to be named a four-time PrepVolleyball.com All-American in 2014.
Kaylin Korte - Outside Hitter
Korte comes to the Illini from Morris, Illinois. She was a three-time MVP for her Morris High School team, and she was named to several All-Tournament teams, including Bishop Mac Invite (2014), KC Qualifer, Recruit Me Classic, and the High Performance International Tournament.
Kendal Kavanaugh - Defensive Specialist
Kavanaugh comes to the Uof I from Woodridge, Illinois. She led her Benet Academy high school team to regional and sectional championships, advancing to the IHSA Elite 8 as a senior and finished the year ranked 28th in the nation and second in the state of Illinois. Kavanaugh was also selected for the Chicago Senior All-Star Showcase after totaling 165 digs and 15 service aces as a senior.
Caroline Welsh - Defensive Specialist
Welsh comes to the team from Mariette, Georgia. She was a four-year letter winner and senior team captain for her Westminster School high school team. Welsh was also named the Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association AAA State Player of the Year and the 2-AAA Area Player of the Year as a senior.
For more information, visit Fighting Illini Volleyball.
(Statistical information courtesy of the 2016 Fighting Illini Volleyball Roster)