Hillary Haen and the Illini are headed across the ocean to compete in Europe.
May 8, 2008
Champaign, Ill. - After wrapping up a successful spring season, the Illini volleyball team will embark on a 14-day, seven-city tour of Italy Croatia and Slovenia. The trip, which runs May 18-31, will include stops in Venice, Belluno, Ravanna and Rome, Italy; Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Rejika, Croatia. The Illini will play 11 matches on eight separate days of competition, including a pair of duals against the Italian Junior National Team.
"This is a great year to go on a trip like this because there is a large number of younger players who will benefit from the trip for multiple years," said head coach Don Hardin. "It's also nice to reward players like Lizzie, who has been with us for some time, put in a lot of hard work and made a lot of sacrifices."
Illinois will be making its first foreign excursion, which the NCAA allows once every four years, since making a trip to Brazil in 2003. The Illini will practice May 10-17 in preparation for the trip. Illinois returns nine players, including five freshmen, from the 2007 squad, which posted a 16-14 record.
"We have had a successful spring," Hardin said. "There is a gaining confidence developing with this group. Just when we were really feeling that, we had to break for finals. For them to get together again and continue to develop that chemistry is exciting for them."
"I am excited for the team to go to Italy because firstly, I think that the new experience together will bring the whole group closer and secondly, I think we'll play some teams who will challenge us, which can only make us better," said setter Hillary Haen.
"I'm super excited about the Italy trip because I've never been outside of the United States before and it's just going to be an amazing experience," said outside hitter Laura DeBruler. "I really think this will be able to benefit our team because we can put together everything that we were working on over the spring and just get closer as a team through this experience!"
" Not only am I looking forward to the volleyball part, but also to learning about a new culture and all of the site seeing we will be able to do," said middle blocker Johannah Bangert. "We have already begun learning a few words in Italian, and we will soon start learning about the cities that we are going to. It should be some great volleyball and some great team bonding in a new fun place."