Junior setter Hillary Haen led the Illini to a sweep of the Aggies on Saturday.
Sept. 5, 2009
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - No. 8 Illinois rebounded on Saturday with a sweep of New Mexico State (3-2) at the Pan American Center to improve to 3-1 on the year. After Friday's loss to the Seminoles, the Illini responded well with a three-set victory of their own, finishing off the Aggies with scores of 25-21, 25-16 and 25-23. Illinois' defense stepped up in the win, holding the Aggies to a .036 hitting percentage.
Junior Laura DeBruler paced the Illini with 12 kills and 11 digs, while junior setter Hillary Haen played a key role in the Illini victory with 33 assists and 10 digs. Illinois also received solid play from freshmen Jackie Wolfe and Erin Johnson, who hit .417 with six kills. DeBruler and Johnson were both named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts over the weekend.
"The biggest thing for us was how Hillary stepped up and led us today," head coach Kevin Hambly said. "Everyone brought more energy and I liked the way we competed. Jackie (Wolfe) has been great both weekends for us and I'm really excited about Erin (Johnson) with the way she has been blocking for us."
DeBruler began the match on fire, hitting a blistering .714 in the first set with five kills. Sophomore Michelle Bartsch added five kills of her own as the Illini controlled the tempo for the majority of the opening frame and won 25-21.
The Illini never trailed during the second set and won it with ease thanks to four kills from DeBruler and three from Johnson. The Aggies struggled during set number two, hitting only .054 with three service errors.
The Aggies led for most of the third set, but Illinois battled back in the clutch to close out the match. Down 22-20, the Illini went on a 5-1 run, which included a key block from senior Johannah Bangert and junior Nicole Kump that knotted the match at 22 apiece. Kump came off the bench to bolster the Illini block and did just that on her first play. Senior Kylie McCulley had all four of her kills in the final set, while DeBruler added three, including the final kill to complete the sweep.
Bangert finished the day with three blocks and four kills, while hitting .375. Bartsch was second on the team with eight kills, while Edinger played solid defense and added nine digs.
Illinois also played an exhibition match against the Italian Club team on Saturday night, defeating the Italians in three sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-21. The Illini will return to Champaign next weekend for its first home match at the State Farm Illini Classic.