Ashley Edinger was named to the All-Tournament Team at the State Farm Illini Classic.
Aug. 30, 2006
Champaign, Ill. -
Illinois at Marquette Kick-Off Tourney
Site: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee
Schedule: Illinois vs. Ole Miss, Friday, 11 a.m.; Illinois vs. Marquette, Saturday, 7 p.m.; Illinois vs. Loyola, Sunday, 10 a.m.
Radio: Dave Loane and Mike Koon, Friday (live on fightingillini.com only); Dave Loane and Joe Pinter Saturday (live on fightingillini.com only); Dave Loane and Joe Pinter Sunday (live on WDWS AM and fightingillini.com)
Series Notes: Illinois won the only other meeting with Ole Miss, sweeping the Rebels 15-9, 15-9, 15-5 at the Rhode Island Early Bird Invitational on Sept. 2, 1995.
Illinois is 7-3 all-time vs. Loyola. All three Ramblers wins have come in Chicago -- in 2000, 2002 and 2004 and all three in five games.
This will be the first meeting between Illinois and Marquette.
Tournament streak continues: Illinois has now won at least one in-season tournament each year since 1991.
Chemistry coming together: The line-up that started last weekend consisted of three transfers and two others players that had different roles last season. All three transfers made significant contributions. Amy Palash had 22 kills in the three matches and hit for a .357 clip vs. Winthrop. Stephanie Alde had 18 kills for the weekend, and Kristine Anderson had eight digs and a .963 serve reception percentage.
Jump servers make an impact: Lizzie Bazzetta has spent the off-season working on a more potent jump serve, while freshman Ashley Edinger brings a jump serve to the team as well. Bazzetta and Edinger each had six aces apiece over the weekend.
The Illini have a significant advantage in the Big Ten in service aces through the first week of the Big Ten season. The Illini had 34 aces in 10 games this weekend for a 3.40 average. Second place is Purdue at 2.46 apg. Four Illinois players are in the top ten, including league leader Beth Vrdsky (0.90 apg). Bazzetta, Edinger and sophomore Kayani Turner are at 0.60 (6th).
The 15 service aces against UW-Milwaukee were the most in a three-game match in Illini history and just two off the single-match record. Illinois had 17 services in five-game matches against Michigan State in both 1988 and 1982.
Last year's national leader, Florida A&M had 2.59 aces per game.
Beth Vrdsky featured in Big Ten's 25th Anniversary Video
This year the Big Ten is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Big Ten Women's Athletics. One of the components of the celebration is a PSA campaign titled "This is My Big Ten Story." The conference selected 11 athletes, one from each school, past or present.
Beth Vrdsky represents Illinois as she tells of her dream of becoming a fighter pilot. One of the top rated cadets in the University of Illinois' ROTC program, Vrdsky received one of a select group of invitation to the competitive Air Force Flight School. She will begin training following graduation next year.
ILLINI WINS 700th MATCH
With the victory over Illinois State, Illinois won its 700th match in the history of the program. The Illini now have a 702-420-7 all-time record. Illinois becomes the fifth Big Ten school to win 700 games.
Head coach Don Hardin
On the large Huff Hall crowd vs. ISU
"I think the story of tonight was the crowd. I don't think very many schools in the country have the same student support we have here at Illinois. They were the difference."
On the play of Vicki Brown
"We mentioned early in the season that she was a different animal this year. In this tournament, (setter) Lizzie (Bazzetta) and Vicki were unbelievable. Their connection was so fast, it's tough for an opposing team to stop."
On serving success
"For us to be able to compete in the Big Ten, we are going to have to keep them out of system. We have been working hard in practice and it's paying off in matches."
Illinois State head coach Sharon Dingman
On Vicki Brown
"Brown has improved as much as I've seen a player improve in a year."
BATMAN AND ROBIN RETURNS
Last year, Athletic trainer Randy Ballard compared Vicki Brown and Kayani Turner to Batman and Robin because of their playing styles. The names stuck with media types and the Illini fans even donned outfits from the "cape crusaders."
With the loss of Rachel VanMeter to graduation, Brown and Turner will be a big chunk of the Illinois offense. Last season, VanMeter took over 40 percent of the attack swings for the Illini.
Turner, who has suffered through injury each of the past two seasons, returned with a vengeance against the Alumni. The duo came into the program together, but Turner used a medical redshirt as a freshman while nursing a knee injury. Last season, she missed the final six matches with a stress fracture in her left tibia. She did amass 225 kills on the year.
While Rachel VanMeter took 40 percent of the swings last year, balance was the key in the first weekend of the season this year. Kayani Turner led the Illini with 101 attacks or 30.4 percent followed by Vicki Brown (75, 22.5 percent).
MACDONALD CHASING .300
Meghan Macdonald has a chance to be just the 11th Illinois player with a career attack percentage of .300 or better. Macdonald made her presence felt in a reserve role with 15 kills and a .500 attack percentage in the Illini Classic. That brings her career average up to .287
EDINGER Was TOP LIBERO
Ashley Edinger, who will start at the libero position for the Fighting Illini was named prepvolleyball.com's top libero in the nation as a senior at Michigan City (Ind.) H.S.
VIRTUE TO FACE ALMA MATER
Illinois All-American Erin Virtue has landed a spot on the Loyola coaching staff. Virtue, who played for Illinois from 2001-04, helped lead the Illini to second place in the Big Ten and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003 while also leading the Illini to an upset of USC in 2004.
AIR FORCE TIES
In March, Illinois junior Beth Vrdsky got the news she's been waiting most of her life to hear - she is one of the elite that has been selected into the Air Force Academy flight school. Ever since seeing the movie "Top Gun" as a youngster, Vrdsky has aspired to one day fly a fighter jet.
Vrdsky will finish her career both academically and athletically this season, and will leave for flight school to fulfill her dream. Vrdsky is one of 520 cadets selected into flight school out of all the ROTC programs nationwide. Illinois head coach Don Hardin, an Air Force veteran himself, was there to congratulate Vrdsky.