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    Illini Rebound to Sweep Rice in Night Cap
    Junior setter Lizzie Bazzetta delivered 43 assists en route to Illinois 3-0 victory over Rice.

    Junior setter Lizzie Bazzetta delivered 43 assists en route to Illinois 3-0 victory over Rice.

    Aug. 31, 2007

    HOUSTON, Texas - The Illinois volleyball team wasted little time in returning to the win column as it swept the Mizuno Invitational II host Rice Owls, 3-0, tonight at Fox Gym by game scores of 30-20, 30-19, 30-28. Junior setter Lizzie Bazzetta made the match worth watching, as she masterfully distributed the ball en route to sophomore Kylie McCulley, with 15 kills, leading the charge of four Illini in double figures.

    "Lizzie really did a great job of moving the ball around to all of our hitters tonight," head coach Don Hardin said. "I thought as a team, too, we really played well in games one and two. Coming off a heart breaking loss to a nationally ranked team like LSU, I thought we did a good job of responding to that tonight and getting the win."

    With the win, Illinois improved to the 3-2 on the year, while Rice dropped to 2-3 on the young season.

    In the performance, Bazzetta tossed in a solid effort from the defensive end as well, falling just short of a double-double with 43 assists and eight digs. The Naperville, Ill., native also was the conductor of an Illini offense that hit .376 for the match, including a season-high .529 in game two.

    The potent Illini attack finished the night with four players hitting in double figures, with McCulley leading the crew that included senior middle blocker Vicki Brown (13), senior right-side hitter Stefanie Alde (12) and freshman outside hitter Laura DeBruler (10).

    Edinger, coming off a record-setting performance against LSU earlier today with 32 pickups, followed that effort with 16 digs against the Owls. The performance marked the second straight match in which she has averaged over 5 digs per game.

    The match opened in Illinois' favor from the get go, as the Orange and Blue quickly took advantage of the Owls' shaky passing game. Behind aggressive serves, Illinois, who finished the match with eight aces, trailed only once in game one before sealing the 30-20 victory.

    In game two, Illinois continued its strong hold on the contest, keeping the Owls out of offensive rhythm. Despite a valiant push from Rice behind the arm of junior outside hitter Jessica Holderness, who finished with 12 kills, the Owls would be outscored 8-2 in the final 10 points of the game to fall 30-19.

    However, it was not until game three, when the Owls' moved to a 6-2 offense, that Rice started making a dent in the unstoppable Illinois attack. Opening the game with a 3-1 lead and then keeping the contest within two points, Rice looked primed to take the match to four games.

    However, a pivotal timeout from the Illinois bench halted a Rice run and allowed Illinois to refocus. From there, Illinois finished the match on a roof at the net by the senior duo of Alde and Brown, closing the door on Rice for good with a 30-28 game-three victory and the 3-0 match win.

    Illinois returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 1 for its final match of the 2007 Mizuno Invitational II, taking on Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 2:30 p.m. CT at Fox Gym.

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