December 16, 2011 by staff
Tied in the fifth set at nine, the two Illinois freshmen blocked USC’s Lauren Williams to give Illinois the 10-9 advantage. It was a lead Illinois would never relinquish as it defeated USC 3-2 in Thursday’s semifinal match of the NCAA tournament.
Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly summed up the match with one specific play in that fifth set.
“I thought the last point of the match, just defined the whole match in itself, just how tough of a match that was, how big of a battle it was,” Hambly said. “I thought it was two very good teams playing high level volleyball.”
Match point was a rally that forced the entire Alamodome in San Antonio on its feet. Populated by both Illinois fans, USC fans and their bands, the arena was vibrant until the final hit went out of bounds and the Illinois players hugged in celebration of the the school’s first trip to the national title game.
“It’s surreal,” McMahon said. “I’m just really still taking it in. It’s a blast, I can tell you that. It’s fun, with this team and how far we’ve come.”
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