Kevin Hambly shared his thoughts on the historic 2011 season.
Jan. 27, 2012
Champaign, Ill. - Freshman Anna Dorn (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.), junior Erin Johnson (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake South H.S.) and senior Rachel Feldman (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) received special awards at the annual Networkers' Volleyball Awards Banquet. The team also honored its four graduating seniors - Michelle Bartsch (Maryville, Ill./Collinsville H.S.), Hannah Deterding (White Heath, Ill./Monticello H.S.), Feldman and Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North H.S.).
Dorn earned the Jimmy and Jeane Seyler Top Gun Award given to the player with the top hitting percentage on the team as well as the Jim Bayne Award for Academic Excellence, given to the player with the top combined GPA for the spring and fall 2011 semesters. Dorn hit .333 with just 40 errors in 357 attacks during the 2011 season. She tied a school record with 13 block assists in the big win at No. 8 Penn State while her 178 block assists overall put her third on the Illini's single-season list in that category. Dorn averaged 1.28 total blocks per set, which are fourth in the Big Ten, 31st nationally and third in the country among freshmen. She was named to the all-tournament team at the MTSU Invitational after hitting .511 with 29 kills and 18 blocks in three wins.
Johnson was the recipient of the Sandy Scholtens Award, which honors the player that best combines effort and attitude with athletic achievement. Johnson was a narrow second to Dorn in hitting percentage on the team at .328 and in total blocks with 154. She ranked sixth in the Big Ten in blocks per set (1.08) and ninth in the league in attack percentage while leading the Illini with a .314 hitting percentage during the NCAA Tournament. Johnson was named to the all-tournament teams at the State Farm Illini Classic and the MTSU Invitational and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades after recording 15 blocks per set in road wins against No. 9 Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Feldman earned the second-ever Coaches "Tough as Nails" Award. The senior was a regular at either libero or defensive specialist for the last three years and was the team's representative on the Big Ten Sportsmanship team. She tallied 31 digs vs. UCSB at the opening tournament of the year, the BYU Invitational. The 31 digs are tied for the 10th-best performance in a match in school history and the best by any Big Ten player in a four-set match this season. Feldman had double digits in digs in both matches at the Gainesville Regional this year.
The Illinois volleyball family honored all four of its seniors. Bartsch was named first team All-America by Volleyball Magazine while also being named third team All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association for the second straight year. The All-Mideast Region and All-Big Ten performer was named to the All-NCAA Tournament team after totaling 44 kills and 36 digs in the final two matches of the tournament and also claimed a pair of in-season tournament MVP honors. After earning second team All-America honors in 2010, Ward was a first-team All-American in 2011. She was the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. Deterding was the back-up setter for back-to-back Sweet 16 teams She has had success at every stop in her playing career, at Monticello High School, Eastern Illinois and at Illinois Central College, where she helped ICC to the 2009 NJCAA Division II National Championship.
Illinois had the best season in school history, advancing to its first national semifinal since 1988 and first national title match ever. The Illini posted a 32-5 overall record and tied for second in the Big Ten with a 16-4 conference mark. Illinois won its first 20 matches of the season and earned the first No. 1 ranking in the AVCA poll in school history.