Hillary Haen ranks eighth in the nation in assists.
Sept. 29, 2009
Illinois heads to Motor State
Illinois heads to the road in Big Ten play for the first time this weekend. The Illini first play at Michigan State on Friday (5:30 pm) then head to Ann Arbor to meet No. 6 Michigan (7:30 pm)
Multimedia: Both matches can be heard live on fightingillini.com with Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Matt Wille (analysis). Friday night's match can be heard live on WDWS (AM-1400) with Saturday night's match tape delayed following football.
Illini hope to continue success
Illinois leads the all-time series with Michigan 38-18, which includes a 15-11 mark in Ann Arbor. In years in which Illinois has made the NCAA Tournament, the Illini are 13-4 at Michigan.
The Illini won at Michigan and Ohio State in the same year for the first time since 1998 with victories in Columbus and Ann Arbor last season.
The Illini are 40-21 all-time vs. Michigan State. Illinois has won the last two meetings in East Lansing.
Illinois has only road trip in a month
The Illini are beginning the Big Ten with six of their first eight matches at home. This weekend's trip marks the only two road matches in that stretch.
More on Michigan
Michigan pulled off one of the surprise victories of the volleyball season with a three-game sweep of then No. 3 Nebraska in Omaha. The next night Minnesota nearly pulled off the trick before falling in five to the Cornhuskers while the Wolverines defeated Kansas State, 3-1. The wins vaulted Michigan to the top 10 in the AVCA rankings for just the second time in school history. The Wolverines are ranked a school-best sixth this week.
Michigan is led by junior setter Lexi Zimmerman, who was named Second Team All-America last year after earning Honorable Mention All-America honors as a freshman. Zimmerman directs an offense that is hitting .293.
More on Michigan State
Michigan State won its first 12 matches of the season, including a five-set victory over then No. 12 USC. The Spartans were as high as 16th in the rankings before losing at Indiana (3-0) and Purdue (3-2) to start the Big Ten. MSU is now ranked 23rd.
Michigan State is third in the conference in kills behind only Penn State and Michigan.
Big Ten flexes its muscles
The victories by Michigan and Michigan State during the first weekend of the volleyball season were just two examples of just how strong the Big Ten is this year. The conference went 106-23 vs. non-conference opponents this year.
Currently four teams are ranked in the top 12 nationally.
The conference has wins over No. 3 Nebraska (Michigan), No. 12 USC (Michigan State), No. 16 Saint Louis (Illinois and Penn State) and No. 22 Kansas State (Minnesota and Michigan) while Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana have all taken sets from No. 18 Kentucky.
Bartsch comes on strong
Sophomore Michelle Bartsch is becoming a force for the Illini from the right side position. Bartsch has led the Illini kills each of the last three matches.
Bartsch hit .812 with 13 kills in the victory over Ohio. She had 10 kills in 11 swings in the first two sets.
She had 17 kills and nine digs in the victory over Ohio State
She added 16 kills while hitting .343 against No. 1 Penn State. Bartsch had eight of Illinois' first 11 points in the third set as the Illini went in front 12-11. Bartsch had nine kills in that third set.
DeBruler has kills streak snapped
Laura DeBruler had double-digit in kills in the first 10 matches this season. Combine that with that with 21 straight double-digit kills matches to end the 2008 season and DeBruler had a streak of 31 straight matches with at least 10 kills. The streak ended Saturday night as the junior tallied just six kills vs. Penn State.
DeBruler, Haen among nation's leaders
Laura DeBruler leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation in both kills (4.92 per set) and points (5.53 per set). She is now hitting .307 for the year and has added 86 digs.
Junior setter Hillary Haen is second in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation in assists with 12.78 per set. Haen has six matches of at least 40 assists despite the Illini playing only three matches of over three sets.
Illinois ranks 13th in the nation in assists per set at 13.25 and 27th nationally in kills per set at 13.75. The Illini are also 35th in hitting percentage (.257).