Johanna Bangert ranks fifth in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.400)
Sept. 26, 2007
Champaign, Ill. -
Illinois at Northwestern, Sept. 29, 7 p.m. CT, Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill.
Radio: Illini Sports Network and www.fightingillini.com (Dave Loane and Kevin Martinez)
Illinois (8-4) will try to keep pace in the competitive Big Ten, which includes five ranked teams. The Illini travel to Michigan State and Northwestern Friday and Saturday, respectively. Northwestern upset No. 23 Ohio State 3-2 in Columbus and brings a 10-3 overall record into the weekend. Michigan State, meanwhile, is 9-5.
Illinois continues to be competitive against ranked teams
Illinois had two close losses last week to top-ten opponents, falling at home to No. 9 Wisconsin in four games and on the road to No. 10 Michigan in five games. This marks two of a string of near misses for the Illini:
The other he two losses were to teams currently ranked in the top 25 -- No. 16 Dayton and No. 22 LSU and both matches were in five games.
The Dayton match was especially close as the Illini had two match points in game four vs. the host Flyers. Dayton rebounded to take game four 31-29 and the match in five games.
Illinois had LSU on the ropes, before the Tigers rebounded to win in five games. In that match, the Illini bested the favored Tigers in every statistical category - attack percentage (.237-.205), kills (68-62), digs (72-65) and blocks (14-12).
Brown among nation's hitting leaders
Illinois middle blocker Vicki Brown has had another great September. Brown is averaging 3.43 kills per game while her hitting percentage of .406 ranks 19th in the nation.
Brown has a string of 10 straight matches with double digits in kills and has hit over .500 in five matches this season.
September has been a good month for Brown. Last season, Brown ranked among the top 15 in hitting percentage through September, hitting .447 (191-51-313).
Laura DeBruler among top freshmen in kills
Laura DeBruler ranks 42nd nationally in kills per game (4.63). She is also the fourth highest ranked freshman in that category -- behind only Jovanna Blazeski of Florida A&M (4th, 5.38), Juliann Faucette of Texas (11th, 5.04), and Megan York of St. Mary's (20th, 4.82).
Notes on Michigan State match
Illinois leads the all-time series 35-22. Michigan State won both meetings last season in three games.
The Illini won 24 straight matches from Sept. 19, 1981-Oct. 28, 1994.
Illinois has won five of the eight meetings since 2003.
Michigan State enters the match 9-5, 0-2 in the Big Ten after dropping a pair of road matches at Penn State and Ohio State. The Spartans won their own tournament with victories over Missouri State (3-0), Florida State (3-0) and Kansas (3-2).
Notes on Northwestern match
Illinois leads the all-time series 41-22, having split the matches last season. Northwestern won at Illinois in four games, while Illinois defeated the Wildcats in the three games in Evanston.
The Wildcats qualified for its first three NCAA Tournaments under head coach Keylor Chan -- 2002, 2003 and 2005.
Northwestern won at Ohio State for the first time in four years, defeating the Buckeyes 3-2 on Friday. The Wildcats' eight-match winning streak was snapped at Penn State. NU is 10-3.
Wisconsin game one sets Illini record
Illinois won the first game against Wisconsin 41-39, marking the longest single game in Illinois history. The Illini defeated Michigan State in game one on Oct. 26, 2002.
Illinois nearly pulled out game two of the match. After trailing 15-9, Illinois went in front 20-16 before the Badgers took the game, 31-29 and eventually the match.
Don Hardin wins 200th at Illinois
Illinois head coach Don Hardin entered this season -- his 12th at Illinois -- with exactly 192 wins at both Louisville and Illinois. The win over Toledo was his 200th at Illinois and 392nd overall. His record now stands at 200-145 at Illinois and 392-221 overall.
1 -- 8/29/88, Louisville 3, W. Kent. 1
100 -- 10/17/92, Louisville 3, Tulane 0
200 -- 10/12/96, Illinois 3, Indiana 1
300 -- 9/14/02, Illinois 3, UConn 0
1 at Illinois -- 9/2/96 Illinois 3, ISU 1
100 at Illinois -- 11/14/01, Illinois 3, Indiana 1
200 at Illinois -- 9/15/07, Illinois 3, Toledo 1
Big Ten posts signature wins
The Big Ten looks as tough as ever with every team over .500 during the non-conference season. Four teams are ranked in the top 12 -- Penn State (3), Wisconsin (9), Michigan (11) and Minnesota (12) Big Ten signature wins (current ranking)
No. 11 Michigan 3, No. 13 Hawaii 2
No. 3 Penn State 3, No. 7 Texas 1
No. 3 Penn State 3, No. 7 Texas 1
No. 12 Minnesota 3, No. 15 USD 1
Purdue 3, No. 21 Oregon 1
Penn State took No. 2 Stanford to five games.
Ohio State took No. 4 USC to five games.
Illinois has taken No. 16 Dayton and No. 22 LSU to five games.
Iowa has taken No. 23 BYU and No. 22 LSU to five games.
Laura DeBruler having quite the freshman season
Freshman Laura DeBruler is off to a fast start this season
With 213 kills, she is on pace for 532, which would be the fifth most in school history.
She has four matches with at least 20 kills, including 28 and 21 in her first two matches.
She has five double-doubles, including a season-high 15 digs vs. Wisconsin
She has hit over .300 four times, including a .472 clip vs. Southern Illinois.
She ranks third in the Big Ten and 42nd nationally with with 4.63 kills per game.
Bangert also shining
Not to be overlooked has been the play of freshman middle Johannah Bangert. The Washington, Mo., native is fifth in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at .395. She had 11 kills in 17 swings (.588) in her Illinois debut and 13 kills in 17 swings (.765) vs. TAMUCC.
Sophomore outside hitter Kylie McCulley is out for another week due to a stress fracture in her foot. She is expected to return Oct. 5.
Redshirt junior Kayani Turner is still suffering from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and has not played this season.
Alde returns with a vengeance
Stefanie Alde missed two matches in the State Farm Illini Classic with recurring back problems. She has been tough since returning with 57 kills in the four match.
Alde has hit at least .400 in five of the ten matches she has played, including .538 at Dayton and .526 at Rice.
Brown tearing it up
Senior middle blocker Vicki Brown has played well in 2007. She is hitting .406 with 158 kills. She ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 19th nationally in hitting percentage.
In the past five matches, Brown has 77 kills with a .415 attack percentage combined.
Brown has been named to seven straight all-tournament teams dating back to 2005. She has been MVP of three of those, including the last two State Farm Illini Classics.
Brown has double digits in kills in ten of the 12 matches this season, including 19 at Dayton.
Bazzetta, Haen battle at setter
Freshman Hillary Haen, one of the nation's top three high school setters in 2006, enrolled at Illinois in January and practiced with the Illini last spring. Haen and incumbent Lizzie Bazzetta had a spirited battle for that position.
During the first two weeks of the season, Illinois played a 6-2 with both setters in the rotation. Bazzetta has been used exclusively the two last weeks with the exception of game three vs. SIU when Haen had 11 assists at setter.
Bazzetta has played some of her best volleyball this season with five double-doubles and a season-best 61 assists at Toledo. She has distributed the ball nicely. Of the 724 kills this season, 247 have come from the middles, 130 have come from the right side hitters and 331 have come from the left side.
Bazzetta one in a long line of Illinois alums
Lizzie Bazzeta follows sister, Kathleen, a four-year regular at defensive specialist, to Illinois. Aunts Kathleen and Eileen Gartland played volleyball for the Illini in the 1970s. Parents Bob and Mary Jean Bazzetta and several family members also attended Illinois. Each year the family has a reunion in conjunction with an Illinois volleyball match.