Abby Nelson hit .500 with seven kills vs. Michigan
Oct. 11, 2008
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Illinois has had some success on the road in the past two seasons, but it's been quite some time since the Illini have had as dominating of a weekend away from home. Saturday, Illinois completed a 2-0 Big Ten road trip with a straight sets 25-19, 25-17, 25-20 victory over no. 23 Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The victory comes one night after a convincing 25-17, 25-23, 25-16 win at Ohio State. Illinois is now 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Illini are now 9-5 on the road in the Big Ten over the past two seasons. Michigan falls to 15-3 overall and 3-3 in conference. This road trip marks the first time since the 1998 season that the Illini stole victories from both Ohio State and Michigan on the road.
"This was a big weekend for us, sweeping both Ohio State and Michigan," Illinois head coach Don Hardin said "It's still early in the Big Ten season, and it's really important for our team to come out and fight in the matches and make our identity known. We had a big blocking performance and our passers stepped up tonight."
Illinois used another convincing block in the sweep, leading 10-3 in that category. Sophomore Johannah Bangert had a big night in the middle with five kills in seven swings and a team-leading six blocks assists for a .714 attack percentage. Freshman right side hitter Michelle Bartsch added five block assists and nine kills while hitting .471 while sophomore middle blocker Abby Nelson had seven kills and four blocks assists for a .500 attack percentage.
Overall, Illinois out-hit Michigan .364-.158, including a blistering .419 clip in the first set. Michigan's Juliana Paz and Alex Hunt each had 11 kills and hit a combined .207. The rest of the team hit a combined .104.
Illinois sophomore middle blocker Laura DeBruler led the Illini with 15 kills while hitting .314, while fellow sophomore Hillary Haen, who saw action at setter and outside hitter, added 22 assists and six digs.
In a back and forth first set that saw 13 ties, the Illini pulled away in the late stages going on a 6-0 run to close out the set, 25-19. The Orange and Blue hit a whopping .419 in the opening set, led by Laura DeBruler who had seven kills on 12 attempts. Illinois out blocked Michigan 3-1 after set one.
The Illini started out the second set on fire, executing in all phases to go up 18-7. The Wolverines inched backed going on a 10-1 run at 23-17. Illinois closed out the set 25-17 to take a 2-0 lead into the break. The Illini continued their red-hot hitting in the second set, hitting .364 compared to just .059 from the Wolverines.
In the third set, the Illini grabbed the first point and never relinquished the lead, taking the set and the match 25-20.
The Illini move out of a logjam and into a tie for third place with Wisconsin. The Illini and the Badgers meet Sunday at Huff Hall beginning at 1 pm. Illinois hosts Northwestern Friday at 7 pm.