Jessica Belter had a double-double of 14 kills and 14 digs versus Michigan.
Nov. 28, 2003
Champaign, Ill. -
The 18th-ranked Illinois volleyball team saw its Big Ten title hopes come to an end tonight, as the Fighting Illini fell in four games to the visiting Michigan Wolverines by the score of 30-21, 26-30, 28-30, 22-30. Illinois needed a win tonight coupled with a Penn State loss in order for the Illini to play for a share of the conference championship Saturday. But neither of those things happened as, along with Illinois' loss tonight against the Wolverines, Penn State defeated Minnesota in four games to clinch the Big Ten title.
Illinois saw its six-match winning streak come to a halt and the Illini lost for the first time in 12 matches at Huff Hall this year. Illinois moves to 23-6 on the season and 14-5 in Big Ten play. Michigan, meanwhile, improves to 19-11 overall and 11-8 in the conference.
"We're disappointed. Every match at the end of a season usually has an enormous impact and tonight we felt the other side of it," Head Coach Don Hardin said. "I am very proud of this team and the season we have enjoyed thus far, but we are not where we want to be. We want to advance in the tournament and win championships. We approached this game as if it was the first game of the NCAA Tournament. Fortunately it wasn't, and now we must regroup and wait for our chance next week in the actual NCAA Tournament and try for a different outcome."
Illinois hit just .202 on the evening and was outblocked 15.5-to-7 by Michigan. The Illini had four players reach double figures in kills, led by a match-high 19 kills from sophomore outside hitter Rachel VanMeter. Junior right-side hitter Jessica Belter had an outstanding match, recording a double-double with equal totals of 14 kills and 14 digs while hitting a team-best .323. Junior libero Lauren Harks made a number of sensational defensive plays, registering a season-high 21 digs.
Illinois returns to the court tomorrow night to host Michigan State (19-10, 11-8) in the final match of the 2003 regular season. It will be senior night as the Illinois volleyball program will honor three seniors in Lisa Argabright, Shelly O'Bryan and Melissa Vandrey. Match-time is set for 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.