Stephanie Obermeier is among the nation's leaders in assists.
Sept. 21, 2005
Series Notes: Penn State holds a 26-7 lead in the all-time series. The Illini have one win in 15 tries in Happy Valley, that was a 3-2 victory on Nov. 24, 1995. The Illini have won three of the last four meetings in Champaign.
A look at Penn State: Pre-season conference favorite Penn State has not backed down from any one, playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, which includes two victories over #4 Hawaii, the latter on Sept. 2 ended the Rainbow Warriors 39-match home court win streak. PSU has played three other matches against top 10 teams, defeating No. 7 USC, 3-1 and falling to No. 3 Stanford, 3-2, and at top-ranked Nebraska, 3-0. Penn State ranks No. 17 nationally in blocks per game (3.08), led by Christa Harmotto (1.53).
Series Notes: Ohio State has a 30-27 advantage in the all-time series. The Illini nearly swept the Buckeyes in the series in 2004. The Illini won 30-26, 30-22, 30-24 in Champaign, before falling 30-24, 29-31, 30-28, 27-30, 15-8 in Columbus. Coach Don Hardin is 7-11 all-time against in the Buckeyes.
A look at the Buckeyes: Ohio State is 7-2 after a five-game loss to Brigham Young at the title game of the Buckeye Classic. The other loss came to #1 Nebraska (30-15, 30-19, 30-17) at the Sports Imports Classics hosted by OSU. The Buckeyes do hold a win over #24 Long Beach State (30-25, 30-25, 32-30).
VanMeter second nationally in kills Rachel VanMeter ranks second in the nation in kills per game. Saturday's match with Ohio State pits two of the top ten in kills as Meyer checks in No. 9. The top ten:
KPG 1 Katie Johnson, Michigan St. 6.18 2 Rachel VanMeter, Illinois 6.13 3 Kate McCullagh, NIU 6.04 4 Sara Radosevic, Tulane 5.90 5 Laura Jones, Texas A&M 5.78 6 Kelly Paiva, Fla. Atlantic 5.64 7 Karla Johnson, Miami (Fla.) 5.45 8 Kristen Carlson, San Diego 5.41 9 Danielle Meyer, Ohio St. 5.38 10 Tatyana Menshikova, SLU 5.37Illini among national leaders in assists
Left side hitter Rasa Virsilaite will miss this weekend's games, out with a broken finger. Freshman setter Lizzie Bazzetta filled in Saturday for Virsilaite and had four kills while hitting .429.
Rachel Henderson has been out the last two weeks with mononucleosis and will not play this weekend
Middle blocker Jen Hynds is out indefinitely with an injury.
BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE
Rachel VanMeter has already had a strong season individually. So far Van Meter:
Earned the first Big Ten Player of the Week honor. She smoked the host Redbirds for an Arena Record 39 kills and 10 digs in 79 attacks for a .342 hitting percentage. That figure not only a) broke the arena record, but also b) ranks third best in Illinois history behind Erin Borske's 44 and 41, respectively in matches in 1995 and c) is tied for 10th best in Big Ten history.
Earned the MVP award at the Northern Illinois Tournament, her third MVP honor of her career after totaling 89 kills and hitting .360 for the tourney.
Was named to the all-tournament team at the UNLV Tournament.
Has surpassed the 30 kills mark twice, including 32 kills vs. UNLV and 39 vs. Illinois State.
WHAT'S THE VRD?
Beth Vrdsky has two of the top five digs performances by a Big Ten player this season.
1. 45 Nicole Colaluca (MSU) at Sacramento State (Sept.17,2005)
2. 36 Beth Vrdsky (IL) vs Eastern Illinois (Sep 16, 2005)
3. 33 Stesha Selsky (UM) at Georgia (Sep 16, 2005)
4. 29 Beth Vrdsky at UNLV (Sep 09, 2005)
5. 27 Stesha Selsky (UM) vs Eastern Michigan (Sep 13, 2005)
Vrdsky was named to the All-Tournament Team at NIU after posting 58 digs in four matches.
Vrdsky, a member of the Illinois ROTC, for the past two seasons, has earned a scholarship for her last two seasons.
Illinois picked fifth in the Big Ten
Illinois is picked fifth in the conference behind four conference teams ranked in the top 12 in the nation. Defending conference champion Penn State, national runner-up Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio State garnered the first four positions ahead of Illinois and Purdue, who tied with for fifth. Michigan is predicted seventh followed by Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa, and Indiana.
The Northwestern at Illinois match will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Minnesota at Illinois match will be shown on ESPN2.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Rachel VanMeter has moved into seventh in Illinois' all-time kills list. A season of 500 kills would move her into the top five. Bridget Boyle is currently fifth with 1,484.
VanMeter is in a similar situation in attack attempts. Last year, VanMeter took 1,281 swings, fourth most in a season in Illinois history. If she duplicates that effort, she would move into third on the career attack list.
Career Kill Leaders Kills 1. Mary Eggers 1,761 2. Mary Coleman 1,707 3. Nancy Brookhart 1,669 4. Tracey Marshall 1,657 5. Bridget Boyle 1,484 6. Betsy Spicer 1,245 7. Rachel VanMeter 1,229 8. Shadia Haddad 1,228 9. Tina Rogers 1,195 10. Erin Borske 1,192
Career Attack Leaders 1. Mary Coleman 4,374 2. Tracey Marshall 4,208 3. Bridget Boyle 3,480 4. Mary Eggers 3,417 5. Nancy Brookhart 3,329 6. Shadia Haddad 3,297 7. Rachel VanMeter 3,222 8. Petra Laverman 2,894 9. Lorna Henderson 2,772 10. Erin Borske 2,769
With the addition of Lizzie Bazzetta to the squad this year, the family continues a tradition at Illinois. Her sister, Kathleen, was a four-year regular at defensive specialist following aunts Kathleen and Eileen Garland, who played volleyball for the Illini in the 1970s. Her parents, Bob and Mary Jean Bazzetta and several family members also attended Illinois.
Kayani Turner and Vicki Brown have emerged as as forces this year for Illinois. The Illini team have dubbed them the Batman and Robin of the team, taking the court by force. Turner had an especially big tournament at UNLV with 48 kills in the three matches, including a career-high 20 kills vs. UNLV. Turner also filled in a pair of games vs. Austin Peay after Rachel VanMeter had been hit in the head with a ball. In that match, Turner had 16 kills.
Vicki Brown, who played primarily the middle in high school, but was an outside hitter last year, is returning to the middle this season. She had 13 kills and seven block assists in the win over UNLV and is hitting .335 for the year, which leads the Illini.
Turner and Brown are second and third on the team in kills per game.