Illinois completes successful European trip
June 13, 2008
The Fighting Illini volleyball team completed a successful trip to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia where they fared well against some elite competition. Illinois went 9-1 overall on the trip, which included splitting a pair of five-game matches with the Italian Junior National team.
"We were picked to lose three or four of these matches at the very least," said Illinois head coach Don Hardin. "Our only loss came in a tough five-setter against an excellent Italian Youth National Team, who we beat the night before.
Several Illinois players collected hardware during the trip. Sophomore Laura DeBruler won Tournament MVP in Belluno, Italy, where the Illini swept Team Belluno, 25-18, 26-24, 25-16 and Team Sbico 25-23, 25-17, 12-15. Junior Ashley Edinger earned the award for Best Defensive Player of the Tournament while senior Lizzie Bazzetta was named Best Setter. Illinois won all three matches at a tournament in Rogla, Slovenia, with Johannah Bangert earning Tournament MVP.
Illinois fared better than any Big Ten team in recent years against the Italian Junior National Team. Illinois won the first match on May 26 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 27-29, 15-12, in Ravenna, then lost a hard-fought five-gamer the next night 25-21, 12-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-10.
"I'm not only proud of how the players competed, but I'm very impressed with how they juggled touring, travel and taking care of business," Hardin said. "This is a very fun team to be around."
"It was a great learning experience for our team," said Edinger. "I'm thankful for the opportunity and for all the people that helped support us. As a team, this should make us more successful next season."
Here is a full list of results: