Fighting Illini Fan Forums => Other Illini Sports & U of I Topics => Volleyball => Topic started by: MrGuy on November 27, 2017, 06:13:25 PM

Title: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: MrGuy on November 27, 2017, 06:13:25 PM
The season has wrapped up and the NCAA Tourney starts at the end of the week. The Illini were successful in getting back to the NCAA. We are not ranked in the top 16 so unfortunately we have to go all the way to Washington. First match is Friday night against  Hawaii. Too bad it isn't at their place as they have a storied program with a passionate fan base that put on incredible shows for their home games.

Short version: I think new head coach Tamas did very well for his first season and exceeded expectations. Would not say we shocked the world but we did better than we planned and are on track. I would say grade A-

Making the NCAA wasn't expected and we were supposed to finish pretty low like 9th or 10th in the BIG, so finishing 7th is very respectable and making the tourney a great accomplishment to build on. The team has some really good players but was lacking in a lot of important positions esp on offense. It is also very young team with only one senior so this will be extremely valuable experience. There has been a noticeable change in the team demeanor in being better able to bounce back and more aggressive which for me was the main thing I was looking for. The negative is that while we outperformed we also didn't shock anyone as we managed only one real upset and some old habits were on display at times. So this will be no overnight success and will take time to get back to national prominence. Thats too bad as we have a few players that are among the best in the country but I don't think we will be able to take full advantage of their talents before they graduate. I will say that the change in coaching was definitely a good thing, for everyone involved. Hambly had definitely checked out the past few years. For the toruney, a first or second round exit is most likely. If we make the quaters that would turn this season from good to awesome. Looking down the road, the coach has us in the right direction, but it will take time, the right players and luck before we are a threat for a title.

On VB in general, the biggest surprise was the sec getting two top four spots in the torney. Top four seeds are super valuable because as of last year, they will host the super regionals before the final four. That was really surprising as the sec is pretty weak and all the metrics said either nebraska or texas should be top 4. Big ten is the toughest conference again in my opinion as the top three or four are all contenders, albeit it is a little top heavy. They did get robbed again as only three got seeds and a lot of teams from much weaker cons got more than 1 and pac-12 got 5. Who knows what this new selection process is based on. Penn state has been number 1 for most of the year, lost only once and probably has the inside track. Stanford (#3) is also very dangerous as they won last year and returned everybody, but repeating is hard and they can't surprise anyone like last year. Nebraska, Florida, Texas, Minnesota all have a shot as well. I would expect Wisconsin, BYU, creighton, and someone else from the pac-12 to make some noise. As a whole volleyball tho has parity issues that makes it frustrating. Like a lot of other olympic sports, especially women's, you have one or two gorillas (stanford and penn state) that win almost every year and suck up the best recruits year in and year out. Not as bad as women's bball as there are others that regularly compete for the title like Nebraska, Texas and Florida, plus recently Minnesota and Wisconsin, but every year it feels like the same teams are shoe-ins for the final 4 and the rest are playing catch up. That makes it hard for others to break in as there doesn't seem to be a middle ground, just haves and have-nots.  Hopefully Illinois can climb (back) into the elite group. In my mind it all come down to having the right coach and I feel more confident in the coaching than I have the last few years. We'll see how it pans out.
Title: Re: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: ctibass on December 03, 2017, 11:44:25 PM
Not sure if anyone is paying attention, but we are in the sweet sixteen after upsetting #8 Washington last night.
Title: Re: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: MrGuy on December 05, 2017, 05:50:52 PM
Yeah I wanted to comment but work has me super busy. They have far surpassed my expectations for the first time in a long time. The coaching difference is now very apparent. Without any doubt in my mind, if things had stayed the same, we would definitely have lost both these games (actually we would not even be in the tourney, but that's beside the point). Both  were 5 set death matches, which in the past we NEVER seemed to win. First game against Hawaii, we controlled the tempo for two sets, then let them come back in the next two. I stopped watching after the 4th figuring we were done and still could not shake the old habits, but the they came back and won. Next match against Washington was awesome too. This was at their place which is a tough place to win, even Stanford lost there during the regular season. We took the first set, then lost the next two, before winning the next two. We now play Mi St on 12/8 at 4 ET, who we did lose to in the regular season, at Penn State's place. We would face the winner of Penn state/missouri on 12/9. I have no idea what to expect now as this is a different team, they just don't quit. The attitude change is the most apparent and rewarding thing about the change. Whenever this season ends is all gravy at this point. This is a super young team and Tamas is bringing in some top recruits so the future is bright.  If basketball and/or football matched vball's success, Whitman would have a statue in 3 years. Ok maybe that's a bit much, but  at this point my biggest fear is someone poaches our coach before we get a title.
Title: Re: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: MrGuy on December 05, 2017, 05:50:58 PM
On the tourney as a whole, the selection process, esp for seeds, was very questionable this year and it showed by the number of upsets. Seeding is important because all 16 seeds host the first two rounds and top 4 seeds (or highest remaining seed) host the third rounds and quarters. They are using a new criteria which seems very arbitrary. Before is was straight RPI, which had it's own problems, but at least made some sense. Kentucky getting a 4 was the big the biggest complaint so much that the head of the committee had to explain what the thought process was. Anyway KY almost lost to western KY in the 2nd round and should get stomped by Nebraska. There were a lot of other bad seeds as well so we should see new rules next year. If the mens bball tourney had a selection committee as insane as vball, there would be riots. In terms of who will win, Penn st didn't look like an unbeatable juggernaut but you can never bet against them. Stanford, Texas, and florida all looked strong. The big ten represented very well with 6 of 8 advancing. We'll see.
Title: Re: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: MrGuy on March 06, 2018, 05:55:16 PM
I never finished up this thread but we lost to MSU. Played very well and never quit but just came up against a Senior laden team with talent. I think we won the first set then had them on the ropes in the second but let them come back and then it was over. Oh well, like I said, excellent finish. MSU lost to Pen State who lost to eventual champion Nebraska. Penn state did not look super dominant an Nebraska was their kryptonite apparently. I was actually rooting for Florida as it would be nice to have a team other than the usual group win it. NU should send Florida a giant thank you card for taking out stanford. I think that match probably wore them out so much, they were just exhausted by the final.
Title: Re: Illini VB 2017: First Year of Tamas
Post by: MrGuy on March 06, 2018, 06:05:10 PM
On another note, the disease from men's bb has spread to VB. Had two transfers and rumors are two more will leave, with one being a starter. Most of it seems to be for playing time and one just seems to be because she was best friends with one of the girls that left. I don't think it is a bad reflection on the team, athletes transfer all the time for all sorts of reasons. BUT it may impact our chances next year as one was a position of need. So unless we get a transfer in, I don't see us being able to take full advantage of the super recruits that Hambly left, which sucks but that's sports. I will say, I feel better about volleyball than baskteball and football. That actually has me more worried as those two sports carry the others, so if they suck, then non-revenue sports will suffer eventually as well. I had heard that last academic year, the AD was 6.4 mil in the hole and this year is looking worse. Man, I think being an illini fan maybe the hardest in all the sports world, never been a part of something so bleak. Even the cubs won eventually!