Ashley Edinger and the Illini are ready to move up in the Big Ten standings.
Oct. 3, 2007
Oct. 8, 7 P.M. -- Purdue (9-6, 2-2) at illinois (10-4, 2-2)
TV: Big Ten Network, live (Dave Loane & Elizabeth Moreau) Radio: WDWS (AM 1400), webcast on fightingillini.com, Brian Moline & Kelly McClure
Series Notes: Illinois leads the series, 34-31. The Boilermakers have won five of the last six meetings. The Illini are 14-8 vs. Purdue under Don Hardin.
Notes on the Boilermakers: The Boilermakers began the season in the top 15 in the country, reaching as high as 13th. Losses to No. 18 Duke, Dayton and Utah dropped the Boilers from the rankings.
Illinois came within a point of defeating undefeated Dayton, before falling 3-2. Dayton defeated Purdue in three games.
Illinois sweeps Big Ten road trip for first time in four years: Illinois is coming off a big weekend, in which the Illini swept matches against Michigan State and Northwestern. The Illini trailed the Spartans two games to none before sweeping through to victory. Illinois then defeated Northwestern in Evanston in three games.
That marked the first time in four years that Illinois that has swept a Big Ten weekend. The last time Illinois had won two road conference matches on the same weekend was Nov. 21-22, 2003 when the Illini won at Indiana (3-1) and Purdue (3-1).
Laura DeBruler named Big Ten Player of the Week
Freshman Laura DeBruler was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 1. DeBruler helped the Illini return to .500 in conference action, leading the Illini in both wins over Michigan State and Northwestern, with 19 and 20 kills, respectively.
Against the Spartans, the Illini started at a 2-0 deficit in the match, but were able to turn things around behind five kills by DeBruler in game three. Against the Wildcats, DeBruler turned in the match of her young career, pounding down All-American numbers with 20 kills in a 3-0 sweep on the road. The kills mark was one-upped only by her attack percentage, a career-high .487 with only one error on the entire match.
For the weekend, DeBruler almost hit an average of five kills per game, including almost eight kills per game against Northwestern.
DeBruler has moved into second in the Big Ten in kills per game at 4.67, just behind Indiana's Erica Short.
This is the first Player of the Week honor for the Illini since Rachel VanMeter won twice in 2005. Beth Vrdsky, Ashley Edinger and Lizzie Bazzetta have all been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week in the past two seasons.
Laura DeBruler among top freshmen nationally in kills
Laura DeBruler ranks 37th nationally in kills per game (4.67). She is also the fourth highest ranked freshman in that category -- behind only Jovanna Blazeski of Florida A&M (5th, 5.34), Juliann Faucette of Texas (21st, 4.82), and Megan York of St. Mary's (22nd, 4.81).
Brown among NCAA hitting leaders, Bangert close
Vicki Brown ranks 32nd in the nation with a .386 hitting percentage, ranking sixth in the Big Ten.
Johannah Bangert is right behind Brown at .383, good for seventh in the Big Ten. Bangert is not listed in the NCAA rankings because in order to be listed a player must average 4.0 attacks per game. Bangert averages 3.69. If she had enough attacks, she would be right behind Brown at 33rd in the national rankings.
Getting over the five-game hump
Illinois trailed Michigan State 2-0 Friday night before the Illini stormed back to win in five games. The victory was significant because the Illini was previously 0-3 in five-game matches, losing only to three-ranked opponents -- Dayton, LSU and Michigan.
Illinois continues to be competitive against ranked teams
Illinois had two close losses to top-ten opponents to start the conference season, 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 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).
Illini trying to build on win streak this weekend Illinois hosts Indiana Friday and Purdue Monday, trying to win four Big Ten matches in a row for the first time since 2004, when Illinois won four straight from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, defeating Michigan in Ann Arbor, Wisconsin and Northwestern at home and Indiana in Bloomington. That was also the last time Illinois has appeared in the national rankings.
Purdue broke the streak with a win in West Lafayette.
Another September to Remember
Illinois middle blocker Vicki Brown has had another great September. Brown is averaging 3.43 kills per game while her hitting percentage of .386 ranks 32nd in the nation.
Brown had a string of 11 straight matches with double digits in kills snapped with nine kills vs. Northwestern 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).
Among the unbeatens
Dayton is one of just five teams remaining in the rankings. Illinois came close to defeating the Flyers in the championship game of the Dayton Flyer Classic. The Illini had two match points in game four before Dayton came back to win the final four points and the game 31-29. The Flyers won the match in five games.
McCulley return delayed
Sophomore Kylie McCulley has missed the past four weeks with a stress fracture in her foot. She returned to practice this week, but is not expected to play this weekend.
Comparing to a legend
Illinois head coach Don Hardin said, "The only other person to have this big of an impact as a freshman has her banner hanging in the rafters."
Hardin was comparing Laura DeBruler to Illinois great Mary Eggers, who was named the 1988 Honda Award winner as the National Player of the Year.
In her freshman campaign of 1985, Eggers had a team-leading 431 kills She did so in 42 matches for a 3.34 kills per game average
DeBruler is on pace to shatter those marks. DeBruler currently has 252 kills (an average of 4.67 kills per game), one pace for 540 by the end of the 30-match regular season.
The 540 kills would tie Nancy Brookhart for the third-most in a season in Illinois history.
More notes on DeBruler
She has five 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 .487 clip vs. Northwestern
She ranks second in the Big Ten and 37th nationally with with 4.67 kills per game.
Don Hardin wins 200th at Illinois, approaches 400 for career
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 202-145 at Illinois and 394-221 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
Illinois continues relationship with Westview
Over 130 kids from Westview Elementary School will be on hand Friday night as Illinois volleyball and Westview continue a relationship that began when Don Hardin arrived back on campus over a decade ago. The kids will be singing the national anthem and assisting support staff in various duties.
Illinois players regularly visit Westview, reading to students and taking part in numerous activities.
Senior transfers making significant impact
With a number of career-ending injuries over the past few seasons, Illinois has been the benefit of a pair of transfers the past two seasons. Outside hitter Amy Palash, who had helped Valparaiso to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, transferred to Illinois, and right side hitter Stefanie Alde came to Illinois after playing two years at Northwestern.
Palash has been extremely valuable with the injury to Kylie McCulley. Palash had 14 kills in 3 1/2 games filling in for McCulley in the season-opening victory over Bowling Green and had 13 kills while hitting .265 in the victory over Michigan State on Sept. 28.
Alde missed a pair of matches with back problems, but returned on Sept. 12 with four straight double-digit kills performances and hit .500 vs. Southern Illinois and .440 at Toledo.
Alde had s match-ending kill against her old team, Northwestern. She totaled 11 kills and hit .400 in the straight-games victory.
Brown tearing it up
Senior middle blocker Vicki Brown has played well in 2007. Brown is hitting .386 with 185 kills. She ranks sixth in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally in hitting percentage.
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 11 of the 14matches this season, including 19 at Dayton.
Bazzetta one in a long line of Illinois alums
Lizzie Bazzetta 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.
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 six double-doubles and a season-best 62 assists vs. Michigan. She has distributed the ball nicely. Of the 843 kills this season, 281 have come from the middles, 153 have come from the right side hitters and 389 have come from the left side.