Lizzie Bazzetta ranks 15th in the nation in assists per game.
Sept. 6, 2006
Illinois schedule: vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m. CDT, Friday; vs. Wichita State, 9 a.m. CDT Saturday; vs. College of Charleston, 6:30 p.m. CST, Saturday
Two more defending conference champs on tap: Of the 10 teams on Illinois' non-conference slate, five won their conference last year, including two this weekend. Illinois meets defending Southern Conference champion College of Charleston and Missouri Valley champ Wichita State. The Illini have also faced Winthrop and UW-Milwaukee, winners of the Big South and Horizon Leagues, respectively, and next week take on Atlantic 10 champion Dayton.
Illini No. 4 nationally in attendance: Thanks to 3,129 fans vs. Illinois State on Aug. 25, the Illini are ranked fourth in the nation in attendance on the young season. The Illini average 2,345 fans for their two dates, ranking only behind Hawaii, Nebraska and Wisconsin
NATIONAL ATTENDANCE LEADERS
School Average Total Dates 1. Hawaii 7,749 38,747 5 2. Nebraska 4,164 16,656 4 3. Wisconsin 3,840 19,199 5 4. Illinois 2,345 4,689 2 5. Penn State 2,341 7,023 3 6. Iowa State 2,225 2,225 1 7. Florida 2,146 4,293 2 8. Missouri 1,855 1,855 1 9. Michigan St.1,853 5,560 3 10. Purdue 1,747 7,070 4 11. BYU 1,705 5,114 3 12. Colorado St.1,694 10,166 6 13. Wichita St. 1,587 6,348 4 14. Long Beach 1,446 3,440 3 15. Notre Dame 1,024 5,120 5 16. Clemson 838 3,355 4Brown, Bazzetta among national leaders: Vicki Brown ranks 15th in the nation in hitting percentage at .462 while Lizzie Bazzetta is 15th nationally in assists at 13.33 assists per game. Illinois also ranks 13th nationally in aces per game (2.9).
More on 6-0 start: Illinois' 6-0 start matches last year's mark when Illinois posted a 9-2 mark in the non-conference. The is the fourth time under coach Don Hardin that the Illini have started 6-0. Their best start in the Hardin era was in 1997, when the Illini were 8-0 and finished the non-conference 10-1. The last time Illinois was 9-0 was 1995 en route to a 24-9 campaign. The Illini have started 10-0 only once in school history, that coming in 1985 when Illinois started 30-0 en route to a 39-3 campaign.
More on opponents this weekend:
The College of Charleston finished the regular season 30-1 a year ago with its only loss coming to Tennessee. The C of C defeated North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Purdue in the second round. The Cougars are 3-1 in 2006.
Wichita State is picked third in the MVC this year and is off to a 6-1 start with their only loss coming to then No. 25 Kansas State. The Shockers have won five of their six matches in three games.
North Carolina: The host Tar Heels are 1-5 after an NCAA season a year ago. The Illini are 1-1 all-time vs. UNC.
Illinois in in-season tournaments: Illinois is looking for its third tournament title this season. That would mark the second time in three years that the Illini have won three tournaments in the same season. The Illini won tournaments at Illinois, Miami (Ohio), and Arkansas in 2004. The Illini have won at least one in-season tournament every year since 1991.
Illinois reaches Stuff Huff goal thanks to large student section
The Illini volleyball program set out to break 3,000 in attendance for the first round of the State Farm Illini Classic. The crowd of 3,129 was the largest since Nov. 6, 1993 when the Illini drew 3,161 vs. Minnesota. The crowd was also the first officially over 3,000 since Nov. 6, 1999 when 3,083 saw the Illini take on Penn State.
Although no records are kept, the crowd was likely the largest student crowd in the history of Huff Hall. A total of 1,682 students used their student IDs to see the Illini take on ISU.
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 have 10 and nine aces, respectively.
The Illini have a significant advantage in the Big Ten in service aces through two weeks of the season. The Illini are averaging 2.90 aces per game Second place is Ohio State at 2.43 apg. Four Illinois players are in the top ten, including league leader Beth Vrdsky (0.67 apg). Amy Palash is third at 0.62 apg while Kayani Turner and Lizzie Bazzetta are tied for seventh at 0.48.
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 service aces in five-game matches vs. Michigan St. in both 1988 and 1982.
Last year's national leader, Florida A&M had 2.59 aces per game.
Vicki Brown earns second Tournament MVP honor: Vicki Brown earned the MVP honors at the State Farm Illini Classic after amassing 45 kills and nine blocks.
Brown earned the same honor after hitting .514 at Marquette.
Brown has had been in double digits in kills in each of the first six matches and has at least 15 kills in four of the first six.
In the first match of the Marquette Kick-Off Tournament, Brown had 13 kills with no errors in 15 attempts during the final three games of the match for a .867 attack percentage. She hit .667 overall for the match and .514 for the tournament.
Bazzetta posts double doubles: Lizzie Bazzetta, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the Marquette Kick-Off Tournament, had a pair of double doubles with 57 assists and 14 digs vs. Marquette and 45 assists and 13 digs vs. Loyola. She had six double doubles all last season.
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.
The closer: Meghan Macdonald has been instrumental in coming into the rotation late in games to help close out the games. Macdonald has three matches with seven kills and is hitting .382 on the year.
Macdonald is trying to become just the 11th Illini in school history to hit over .300 for her career. Entering this weekend, Macdonald is hitting .287, including at a .382 clip this season.
Edinger 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.
Going for 1,000: Beth Vrdsky is on the verge of becoming just the seventh player to post 1,000 digs for her career. Vrdsky is eighth in Illinois history with 972 career digs.
Illini win 700th Match
With the victory over Illinois State, Illinois won its 700th match in the history of the program. The Illini now have a 705-420-7 all-time record. Illinois becomes the fifth Big Ten school to win 700 games.
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.