The Illinois volleyball program was certainly happy to learn that team leader and outside hitter Megan Cooney, the 6-foot-4 product of Topeka, Kansas, will be back for a fifth year.

The second-team All-Big Ten honoree joined us and explained why she used that extra year of eligibility, how having a hard spring schedule potentially helped this team prep for the fall, what five newcomers add to the gym, why Illinois alum Jordyn Poulter is such a great leader for USA Volleyball in the Tokyo Olympics, and, of course, her favorite places to eat around Champaign.

We are interviewing one player from each of the 14 Big Ten programs before the start of the season. Previously on B1G Volleyball Thursday, we talked to, in order:
Ohio State’s Emily Londot,
Purdue’s Taylor Trammell, 
Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke, 
Penn State’s Gabby Blossom,
Indiana’s Brooke Westbeld,
Michigan’s Jess Mruzik,
Maryland’s Rainelle Jones,
Nebraska’s Nicklin Hames,
Michigan State’s Naya Gros.

*** contributor Emily Ehman is a former Northwestern libero, lived in the bubble in Dallas and covered the inaugural Athletes Unlimited volleyball this spring, and does analysis on Big Ten volleyball broadcasts. Follow her on Twitter @emilyehman and Instagram @emilyehman
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