Junior Laura DeBruler had a match-high 18 kills, but the Illini couldn't overcome top-ranked Penn State.
Nov. 13, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Laura DeBruler had a match-high 18 kills, but it wasn't enough for the No. 5 Illini, who fell to No. 1 Penn State in three sets, 20-25, 25-27, 15-25. Illinois' 11-match win streak was snapped with the defeat, while the top-ranked Nittany Lions continued their record-setting streak with their 91st consecutive victory. The Orange and Blue dropped to 20-4 overall and 12-3 in the Big Ten, remaining in second place behind undefeated Penn State (27-0, 15-0).
"Last time we had a lot to regret, but I don't think we have a lot to regret tonight," head coach Kevin Hambly said. "We certainly wish we could have that second set back, but we competed and put ourselves out there this time."
Both teams came out firing in the opening frame, but the Nittany Lions grabbed the first set with a .406 hitting percentage compared to a .303 mark by the Illini. Down 21-12, Illinois used a 7-2 run to claw back within four and force Penn State to call a timeout, but two kills in the final three points by Arielle Wilson closed out the first stanza. DeBruler paced Illinois with seven kills and no errors in the first set, while Johannah Bangert was perfect with four kills in four attacks.
In the second set, Illinois trailed 19-14 before rallying with a 10-4 to take it to set point at 24-23, but couldn't close it out, dropping four of the final five points. Sophomore Michelle Bartsch and senior Kylie McCulley each notched four kills in the set, which was a defensive struggle with both teams hitting below .200 and tallying three blocks.
After the battle in the second stanza, the Illini found themselves in an early 4-0 hole in the third set, which they were unable to overcome. The balanced attack by the Nittany Lions, who hit .571, was too much for Illinois. The only bright spot in the final frame was an impressive eight kills from DeBruler, who hit .636 in the stanza.
"Laura never quits," Hambly said. "She is a great competitor and a very special player."
Illinois returns to the court on Sunday, Nov. 15 in Columbus, Ohio to face the Ohio State Buckeyes at 1 p.m. CT. The match will air tape delayed on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. CT on Sunday with Randy Rhinehart and Audrey Flaugh on the call.