Nov. 16, 2002
Evanston, Ill. - Illinois dropped a four-game decision tonight to the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., losing by the score of 17-30, 30-19, 30-23, 32-30. With the loss, Illinois falls to 11-14 on the season and remains in ninth place in the Big Ten with a 5-11 record. Northwestern meanwhile, improves to 16-12 overall and 9-7 in conference play.
Illinois had three players stand out with sensational performances, led by junior outside hitter Melissa Vandrey. Vandrey tallied a team-high 18 kills, tying her second-highest kill total of the season. She had just four errors in 43 swings, good for an attack percentage of .326.
Senior Sue Webber and freshman Rachel VanMeter matched Vandrey's level of play against the Wildcats. Webber tallied her seventh double-double of the season, registering 14 kills and 10 digs. She hit .312 for the match while also adding four blocks. VanMeter hit a very efficient .467, finishing with 10 kills and five blocks.
The Illini were unable to slow down a trio of Northwestern players. Iwona Lodzik recorded a match-high 19 kills, while Erika Lange added 18 kills on .333 hitting and Christie Gardner tallied 16 kills on .308 hitting. Northwestern enjoyed a 75-50 advantage in kills and recorded twice as many service aces (eight) as Illinois (four). The Wildcats also out-dug the Illini 57-48.
"We fought back from a rough start and played much better in games two through four," Head Coach Don Hardin said. "But as has been typical in many of our Big Ten matches, we made key errors down the stretch that hurt us tonight and effected the outcome. I was impressed with the play of Melissa Vandrey and Sue Webber on the outside, and I thought Rachel VanMeter played very well also. It's phenomenal for a freshman who is still learning out there to hit .467 in a conference match."
The Illini return to Champaign for their final two home matches of the 2002 season next weekend. Illinois will face Michigan State on Friday, Nov. 22 and Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 23. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.