Hawai'i takes Illinois in four
Dec. 11, 2009
Palo Alto, Calif. - Fifth-seeded Illinois put up a valiant effort in its Regional Semifinal match with 12th-seeded Hawaii, but in the end, the Rainbow Wahine used a decisive advantage in the serve-pass game to pull out a 21-25, 25-10, 27-25, 25-16 victory in front of 2,062 fans at Maples Pavilion to advance to the Elite Eight.
Senior Kylie McCulley led Illinois with 14 kills, including six in the opening set. Laura DeBruler was key in set three en route to 13 kills while sophomore Michelle Bartsch tallied 12 kills. DeBruler had a double-double by adding a team-leading 13 digs.
Hawaii out-aced the Illini 8-2 and used the arm first of Stephanie Farrell (19 kills) and then Kanani Danielson (21 kills) down the stretch to out-hit the Illini .298-.202.
"Hawaii is a great team, very athletic," said Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly. "I think the match went the way we thought it could go if Hawaii won the serve-pass battle. They had a textbook way to stop our block and got us in a lot of trouble. We were not able to get in a rhythm."
Illinois came out of the gates strong, bolting to leads of 6-1 and 11-4 in the first set. The Illini served tough and got five kills from Bartsch in the first set. Even when Hawaii made a run to take a 15-14 lead, the only time the Rainbow Wahine led in the opening set, the Illini responded, using a solo block from Erin Johnson to take a 20-17 advantage, then adding two more blocks - from Johannah Bangert and Hillary Haen and from Bangert and Bartsch to end the set.
Sets two and four were all Hawaii, as the Rainbow Wahine hit .321 and .424 in those sets to win easily. The third set, however, was back-forth. The Illini had a swing to win that set, ahead 25-24. In that set, Hawaii out-hit the Illini by a narrow .269-.267 margin.
In that set, the Illini showed some grit in overcoming a 17-14 deficit. Johnson scored on the back slide and Haen on the setter dump to make it 17-16 Hawaii. A Bartsch-Bangert block tied the score at 19-19 and a Bartsch swing from just off the net tied the score at 20-20. That gave the serve to the Illini's Jackie Wolfe, who served two straight points to give Illinois a 22-20 lead.
With Hawaii serving for the set at 24-23, Haen served up a quick set to Johnson in the middle for a kill and tie the score, then DeBruler served up an ace, giving the Illini a chance to get the set. That's when Hawaii got kills first from Danielson then a pair from Aneli Cubi-Otineru to win the set and take momentum into set four.