Illini Volleyball

#130      
#131      

ilphotog

The camera never lies
Champaign
I have to believe that Huff Hall's days for hosting UI sports may be coming to an end. For those who haven't heard, late last week it was announced that the Gies Business School will break ground on a new building that will be located in the now parking lot next to Huff Hall. Construction is to begin in 2023 and last to 2025. Personally I don't think you can shuttle 1,000 to 3,000 non student fans, plus workers in a timely manner, plus parking for players, coaches, officials, media, BTN or ESPN trucks/vans. The obvious choice is to move Volleyball and M&W Gymnastics to the State Farm Center. But that also presents a scheduling challenge for November, December, January and February. It's going to be a tough call no matter what DIA decides.
 

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#133      
The Iliini are 0-5 in 5 set matches this year

Yikes. I'll say it: it's time for Tamas to go and to build a new volleyball complex. Move them to SFC for a year or two and get a new place built (if there are funds to be had) over by the other new sports complexes. Short of both those things, this program is toast.
 
#134      

danielb927

Orange Krush Class of 2013
Rochester, MN
Let's take a moment before we all declare Illinois volleyball "dead". A new facility would be awesome, much as I love the in-game environment (and childhood memories) at Huff. But this year's team is not as bad as it might seem from the win/loss record. We're coming in at 36th in my predictive rankings. The next highest team with a losing record is Arizona State, all the way down at #62.

So why are we 11-13 if we're a decent team? I don't have a strength of schedule metric yet, but our non-conference schedule was tough, and so far we have had an absolute meat grinder in the B1G. Here are all our results (non-conference matches in bold):

2 - L
3 - L
5 - L
5 - L
10 - L
10 - L
11 - L
12 - L
23 - L

24 - L
26 - L
26 - W (home)
32 - L
33 - W (home)
-- ILLINOIS --
45 - W
45 - W
59 - W
123 - W

182 - W
182 - W
194 - L (neutral)
197 - W
221 - W
247 - W


Our final 6 matches are against #80 (twice), #77 (home), #49 (road), #33 (road), and #24 (road). Still no cakewalks, but no four-match stretches against top-10 teams either. I think it's likely we'll finish exactly at 15-15 (10-10), exactly .500 overall, but with Nunge playing again, I wouldn't be surprised to see us rip off a 6-0 stretch to end the year.

Looking a little closer at the B1G, honestly not hugely distinguishable from Penn State (26th) this season. The main difference is that they won their their two big non-conference tests (both 5 setters) and beat 9 other inferior non-conference opponents. If you take our season and give us something like their non-conference schedule, we'd probably be 13-12 today and headed for a 17-14 finish easily, with an outside shot of getting to 19 wins. Scheduling and 5-set luck/clutch/whatever really make all the difference.
 
#135      
Let's take a moment before we all declare Illinois volleyball "dead". A new facility would be awesome, much as I love the in-game environment (and childhood memories) at Huff. But this year's team is not as bad as it might seem from the win/loss record. We're coming in at 36th in my predictive rankings. The next highest team with a losing record is Arizona State, all the way down at #62.

So why are we 11-13 if we're a decent team? I don't have a strength of schedule metric yet, but our non-conference schedule was tough, and so far we have had an absolute meat grinder in the B1G. Here are all our results (non-conference matches in bold):

2 - L
3 - L
5 - L
5 - L
10 - L
10 - L
11 - L
12 - L
23 - L

24 - L
26 - L
26 - W (home)
32 - L
33 - W (home)
-- ILLINOIS --
45 - W
45 - W
59 - W
123 - W

182 - W
182 - W
194 - L (neutral)
197 - W
221 - W
247 - W


Our final 6 matches are against #80 (twice), #77 (home), #49 (road), #33 (road), and #24 (road). Still no cakewalks, but no four-match stretches against top-10 teams either. I think it's likely we'll finish exactly at 15-15 (10-10), exactly .500 overall, but with Nunge playing again, I wouldn't be surprised to see us rip off a 6-0 stretch to end the year.

Looking a little closer at the B1G, honestly not hugely distinguishable from Penn State (26th) this season. The main difference is that they won their their two big non-conference tests (both 5 setters) and beat 9 other inferior non-conference opponents. If you take our season and give us something like their non-conference schedule, we'd probably be 13-12 today and headed for a 17-14 finish easily, with an outside shot of getting to 19 wins. Scheduling and 5-set luck/clutch/whatever really make all the difference.
Nunge looked good on Sunday.
 
#136      
Yikes. I'll say it: it's time for Tamas to go and to build a new volleyball complex. Move them to SFC for a year or two and get a new place built (if there are funds to be had) over by the other new sports complexes. Short of both those things, this program is toast.
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).
 
#137      

danielb927

Orange Krush Class of 2013
Rochester, MN
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).

Agreed, this year in a vacuum could potentially be justified, but the trend is steady and concerning.

I'm bringing my wife to her first Illini volleyball match next weekend so I'm hoping the atmosphere at Huff is still fun. Too bad to hear it hasn't been packed all year, but not unexpected with the team's struggles. Winning brings people. I also wonder how much it's hurting volleyball to have top-25 football and basketball teams again - is that helpful (more people thinking about Illini sports in general) or hurtful (potential volleyball fans busy going to every hoops and football game)?
 
#138      
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).
Wow, that's super depressing. As competitive as B1G volleyball is, if Whitman doesn't improve the atmosphere and facilities (and honestly, fire Tamas), this program will be a cellar-dweller for a LONG time. There's ample space at the south end of campus around the other sports complexes for a new volleyball arena and practice facility (if that's needed). I'd hope he'd work his donor connections to make that happen.
 
#139      
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).
Wow....that's unfortunate. I remember when Huff would be packed for VB matches - it made for an intimidating environment for visiting teams
 
#140      
Wow....that's unfortunate. I remember when Huff would be packed for VB matches - it made for an intimidating environment for visiting teams

As a member of Spike Squad in the early 2010s, it’s sad to see what it’s become. Used to be one of the loudest, most involved student sections in the country. In the games I’ve watched this year it hasn’t even been remotely close to that. I guess it’s hard to get students to show up when you aren’t winning. The students who experienced the last great Illini volleyball team (2018) are mostly graduated by now, so there hasn’t been much to draw the current students in.
 
#141      
Also, I used to be in the “stay in Huff” crowd, but it’s becoming clear that we can’t keep up with the Big Ten recruiting with our current facilities. Tamas seems to be decent at getting the most out of his players, but when you aren’t recruiting top talent it will always be an uphill battle in this conference.
 
#144      

ilphotog

The camera never lies
Champaign
A follow up to my previous post about no parking around Huff Hall next year, 2 of my contacts said that a new parking deck could get started in the very near future in the Law parking lot E-15. Eliminating even more parking for Huff, probably for at least two seasons.
 
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#145      
A follow up to my previous post about no parking around Huff Hall next year, 2 of my contacts said that a new parking deck could get started in the very near future in the Law parking lot E-15. Eliminating even more parking for Huff, probably for at least two seasons.
You may be right but I heard that it was to be built in the grassy area to the west of the law building.
 
#146      

ilphotog

The camera never lies
Champaign
You may be right but I heard that it was to be built in the grassy area to the west of the law building.
One of my contacts did the soil sampling for the project and took the samples from E-15. Plus that's where its located on the Master Plan. This is the first of three new parking decks they plan/hope to build in the future.
 
#148      
Beer and some quality VBall whoopin’ of Michigan helps a little with digesting the football. Um poco.
Great to have Jessica Nunge back up front. Brooke again just excelling in everything on the court. WTG ladies,
 
#149      

danielb927

Orange Krush Class of 2013
Rochester, MN
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).

Currently in 7th, one game back of Purdue and 2 back from Penn State.

PSU still hosts Minny and Wisconsin, and Purdue plays @Nebraska. Then they end the season playing each other in Happy Valley.

I think we'll finish T6 if we drop a game, and either 6th alone or T5 if we win out.
 
#150      
Tamas' first year was 2017 and we finished T5 in the conference. After that:
2018 - 2nd (Final Four)
2019 - T5
2020 - 7th
2021 - 7th
2022 - 9th to date.
It has been a steady downhill drop once Hambly's recruits were gone.

Even though there would certainly be recruiting advantages, I'm not sure a move to SFC is feasible. Men's BB, Women's BB and wresting currently play there and their seasons overlap with volleyball. For instance, all four sports are currently in season. The IHSA holds the state finals for basketball there in March. Beyond that the hall is used for concerts, plays, graduations, convocations and the occasional circus. As a season ticket holder for Women's BB I can tell you that the atmosphere there is really dead when only a few hundred fans show up. The atmosphere for wresting will be even worse. They can fill only a few sections now in Huff and it's sad. There have been only two home volleyball matches this year where Huff was more than half full for volleyball (don't believe the press releases and box scores which state otherwise).
Let's not get too carried away with this walk down memory lane. In Hambly's first three years, with Bartsch and Ward as AA pin hitters, he took second in the B1G all three years. There are people reading this post who could have at least come close to that with his available talent, which he, admittedly as a great recruiter, brought to Illinois. After that:

2012-8th in B1G - no tournament
2013-4th - sweet 16
2014-3d - sweet 16
2015-7th - sweet 16
2016-8th - no tournament

After beating Michigan yesterday the Illini are tied for 7th, with a far easier schedule than the two teams in front of them, PSU and Purdue, who have tougher schedules including one head to head, which one of them has to lose. For fear of creating a jinx, 12-8 in conference is not inconceivable, as well as a tournament bid.

To this point the only year in which Tamas did not make the tournament was the 2020 covid year in which the schedule was unbalanced against the top teams in the league.

I agree Tamas has to improve his recruiting, noting many of his best recruits have either never or barely played because of injuries. Not sure he can do so when he has to show recruits our facilities compared to the other dominant B1G programs.

I also agree SFC is not the answer for volleyball - too big, no atmosphere, too many conflicts with other events. It does not address the issue of practice or locker room facilities. I also agree Huff needs to be replaced.

Until our facilities improve we are a middle of the road B1G team, I'm sorry to say. I doubt there is anyone out there we could hire who could do more than Tamas has done with what he has to work with. Even Iowa and Indiana have built new facilities in the past 2 or 3 years. Volleyball is perhaps the last Illini major sport who has not seen a major facilities improvement in the past 6 or 7 years. I don't count a video board or paint job as a facility improvement. Whitman has been doing an amazing job improving some of the worst facilities in the B1G. I only hope volleyball is next.