Senior Vicki Brown pounds down 17 kills in Illinois 3-2 loss to Indiana.
Oct. 5, 2007
The Big Ten standings coming into Friday showed a logjam in the middle of the pack following two weeks of play. That pack included several teams fighting for respect in another competitive league. Two of the those teams squared off at Huff Hall with Indiana rallying twice in game five to edge Illinois 24-30, 30-22, 15-30, 30-23, 16-14.
While Illinois was able to neutralize one of Indiana's big guns in Erica Short, who hit -.020 for the match, right side hitter Lauren Ditteon compensated with 17 kills and a .245 mark to lift the Hoosiers.
Illinois got a great night from middle blocker Vicki Brown, who hit .467 with 17 kills. But Illinois lost the serve-receive battle and struggled in the passing department, limiting the options in the offense.
"The digging wasn't the problem tonight," Hardin said. "In fact it was better than we had all season. The challenge was the passing. When we were able to get the ball to Vicki, we were effective, but when the passing broke down, they cornered our outside attack."
Indiana's aggressive serve had a lot of to do with the Illini struggles. Indiana (12-5, 3-2 in the Big Ten) had 10 aces to Illinois' three and had 13 service errors to Illinois' 15. Indiana out-blocked the Illini, 15-13.5
With the offensive execution needing a boost, Illinois turned to freshman Hillary Haen at setter. Haen had 28 assists and 13 digs in playing the final 3 ½ games. Sophomore Ashley Edinger paced five players with double-digit digs with 23.
Illinois had all cylinders clicking at times and nearly pulled out what would have been an emotional victory. Outside hitter Laura DeBruler had another 20+kill performance, finishing with a match high 22.
Brown had eight of her 17 kills in the opening game as the Illini trailed just once in the first game at 5-4. The Illini turned a 10-9 lead into a 17-12 advantage with Brown and DeBruler each having a pair of kills in the surge. The Illini out-hit Indiana .350-191 in taking game one 30-24.
The hitting percentage tells the story in the next three games. With Illinois hitting .484, the Illini dominated game three, doubling up the Hoosiers, 30-15. The Illini, though hit just .114 in game two and -.021 in game four as Indiana claimed those two.
Illinois scored seven straight points midway through game three, six off the serve of Kristine Anderson and never looked back.
Both teams fought hard with a never-give up attitude in the fifth and decisive game. Haen won a joust at the net to put the Illini in front 5-4. Ashley Edinger's pass to Haen led to DeBruler's perfectly executed roll shot, making it 6-4. An Amy Palash pancake dig led to an Indiana attack error as the Illini went in front 7-4.
Indiana made a pair of impressive comebacks, though, scoring three straight points to tie the score at eight. A Palash kill made it 13-10 Illinois bringing the Illini within two points of victory. The Hoosiers fought off two match points, the big blow a service ace from Mara Hillenberg, who served the final three points of the victory.
Illinois, who moves to 10-5 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten, has been competitive in every match with four of the five losses coming in five games. The Illini had some shining moments on the night, but in the end came up just short.
"It looked like we were going to pull it out," Hardin said afterward. "Our crowd and our team probably feel sucker punched. My hats off to Indiana because they are a hard-fighting team. This is a big win for them."