Kylie McCulley and the Illini defend their home court this weekend.
Oct. 15, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
Illinois-Wisconsin played extra in `07
The Big Ten Network couldn't have asked for a more competitive beginning to their volleyball coverage. Last year the Illini and Badgers squared off on a Wednesday night at Huff in the first ever Big Ten Network volleyball broadcast. A live television audience saw the two schools played the longest set in Illinois history with the Illini coming out on top in set one 41-39. The Illini lost the next set in another tight one 31-29 then saw the Badgers take the last two sets handily.
Big Ten co-Defensive Players of the Week square off
Illinois sophomore Johannah Bangert and Wisconsin sophomore libero Kim Kuzma, co-Big Ten Defensive Players of the Week square off Sunday.
Bangert won the honor after leading the Illini to road wins over Michigan and Ohio State. She had six kills, hit .364 and tallied six blocks vs. OSU then had nine blocks, five kills and a .714 attack percentage in the victory over Michigan. Kuzma averaged 5.4 digs per set in leading Wisconsin to wins over Northwestern and Michigan St.
Bangert moves up rankings
The weekend's performances moved Bangert into first in the Big Ten in blocks during conference matches at 1.91 per set. Freshman Michelle Bartsch is fifth at 1.50. Bangert also moved to fourth in the nation in blocks in overall matches at 1.58, which is second in the league behind only Indiana's Erica Short.
Bangert and the record book
With 101 total blocks this year, Bangert is on pace for 184, which would be second most in school history in a season behind only Denise Fracaro's 225 in 1985 and just ahead of Mary Eggers' 177 in 1988.
Bangert's 12 blocks vs. New Mexico State are tied for the fourth most in a match in school history. Kellie Hebeisen holds the record with 15 vs. Georgia in 1991.
Illini-Northwestern meet Friday
Illinois opens the weekend with a 7 pm match Friday with Northwestern. The Wildcats are 6-11 overall and 0-6 in the Big Ten. Although Northwestern is still looking for its first conference victory, the Wildcats have only been swept twice and took Ohio State and Michigan State to five sets. Northwestern also has taken a set from no. 4 UCLA and no. 25 Wisconsin.
Illinois leads the all-time series 42-23 after splitting a pair of matches last year. The Illini defeated Northwestern in Evanston in three sets while the Wildcats defeated the Illini in five sets in Champaign. Northwestern has also won three straight at Huff Hall.
Illinois off to fast start
Illinois is now 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten. This marks the Illini's best conference start since going 5-2 to start the Big Ten in 2004, a year that saw the Illini also 13-4 through 17 matches. One year earlier, Illinois was 15-2 and 6-1 in conference through the same amount of matches.
Illinois has won three straight Big Ten matches for the first time since taking four straight from Oct. 30-Nov. 12 and seven straight conference sets for the first time since Oct. 8-15, 2004.
Illinois up to 8th in the RPI ratings
The NCAA released its second RPI rankings on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Illinois, whose strength of schedule is among the best in the country, is ranked 8th in the rankings.
Illinois and the national rankings
After sweeping matches at Ohio State and Michigan last week, Illinois moved up to 17th in the latest CBS Sports Network/ AVCA Coaches poll. The Illini received 515 votes from the 60-member panel. They are in the rankings for the seventh straight week.
Illinois continues to be one of six Big Ten teams in the national rankings. Defending national champion Penn State is first followed by Minnesota at no. 12, Illinois (17), Wisconsin (19), Purdue (21) and Michigan (23).
The Big Ten is second to the Pac 10, who boasts seven teams, including six of the top 11 teams in the rankings.
Big Ten teams were a combined 103-26 (.798) during the non-conference. This included eight victories over ranked opponents -- Penn State over no. 12 Hawaii and no. 6 UCLA; Minnesota over no. 21 LSU and no. 16 Cal Poly; Wisconsin over no. 23 BYU; Purdue over no. 14 Kansas State; and Illinois over no. 11 Oregon and no. 23 New Mexico State.
In addition to the five other Big Ten teams in the national ranking, two other Illinois opponents are ranked -- no. 4 Stanford and no. 6 Oregon. Saint Louis is receiving votes.
Illini block sets tone
Overall, the Illini are ranked 11th nationally with 2.79 blocks per set. A total of seven Big Ten teams rank in the top 26 in that category, including five in the top 15. Sunday's opponent, Wisconsin, is 26th
To put the block surge in perspective, last season Illinois ranked 10th in the Big Ten last year at 2.23 blocks per, set keeping in mind that last year the teams played to 30 instead of 25.
Edinger on verge of digs record Ashley Edinger holds two of the top three digs seasons in Illinois history, including 564 last year. Edinger also topped 1,000 digs in just her 57th match of her career. Tracey Marshall, who is Illinois' all-time digs leader with 1,426, recorded her 1,000th career dig in her 80th match.
With 59 digs at the Tennessee Comcast Classic, Edinger moved past Beth Vrdsky into fourth on the all-time Illinois digs list and within striking distance of the record of 1,426 this year. She now has 1,332 within 14 of Lauren Harks for third.
She also had 35 digs vs Dayton, her sixth 30+digs match of her career.
Illinois career digs list 1. Tracey Marshall 1,426 2. Mary Coleman 1,393 3. Lauren Harks 1,346 4. Ashley Edinger 1,332 5. Beth Vrdsky 1,166 6. Sandy Scholtens 1,133 7. Mary Eggers 1,092 8. Petra Laverman 1,003 9. Kathleen Bazzetta 974 10. Shadia Haddad 962
Illinois single-season digs list 1. Ashley Edinger (2007) 564 2. Beth Vrdsky (2005) 520 3. Ashley Edinger (2006) 488 4. Tracey Marshall (1998) 465 5. Erin Borske (1995) 396 7. Lauren Harks (2003) 393 7. Mary Coleman (1998) 391 8. Shadia Haddad (2000) 371 9. Shadia Haddad (2001) 368 10. Mary Coleman (1995) 367
Illinois single-match list 1. Petra Laverman (9/30/89) 38 2. Ashley Edinger (11/2/07) 37 3. Beth Vrdsky (9/16/05) 36 4. Ashley Edinger (9/12/08) 35 5. Ashley Edinger (10/21/07) 34 6. Ashley Edinger (8/31/07) 32 Rita Schwartz (9/5/84) 32 8. Ashley Edinger (9/3/06) 31 Beth Vrdsky (11/16/05) 31 10. Ashley Edinger (9/28/88) 30
2008 NCAA Division I Block Leaders Name Blocks Average 1 Emily Underwood, Memphis 134 1.63 2 Anna Breyfogle, Baylor 96 1.60 3 Ashley Benson, Indiana 105 1.59 4 Johannah Bangert, Illinois 101 1.58 5 Danielle Hepburn, Clemson 99 1.52 6 Lauren Gibbemeyer, Minnesota 97 1.52 7 Foluke Akinradewo, Stanford 81 1.47 8 Lecia Brown, Louisville 101 1.46 9 Christa Harmotto, Penn St. 74 1.45 10 Amber Simpson, New Mexico St. 88 1.44Bazzetta moves up Illinois assists charts
DeBruler chases 1,000 kills
With the team's success this season, sophomore Laura DeBruler has emerged as a potential All-American candidate. DeBruler had 31 kills in a five-set victory over no. 11 Oregon and 24 in a hard-fought victory at Illinois State.
At 4.41 kills per set, DeBruler ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in that category.
DeBruler now has 859 kills for her young career with a good chance to surpass the 1,000-mark this season. Illinois' all-time kills leader, Mary Eggers, had 906 in her first two seasons. Erin Borske holds the Illini record for kills in her two seasons with 1,192, but played just two years.
Last year, DeBruler led all freshmen nationally, while ranking 22nd overall in kills per set in 2007.
2008 NCAA Division I Kills Leaders Name Blocks Average 1 Yarimar Rosa, Florida Int'l 380 5.43 2 Erica Short, Indiana 320 4.85 3 Mackenzie Angner, SDSU. 286 4.85 4 Yun Yi Zhang, Temple 368 4.78 5 Jeanne Fairchild, New Mexico 279 4.73 6 Meagan Schoenrock, NIU 326 4.72 7 Angie Porché, Valparaiso 333 4.69 8 Marcela Gurgel, South Fla. 344 4.53 9 Emily Day, Loyola Marymount 275 4.51 10 Haley Larsen, Idaho 312 4.46 11 Hana Cutura, California 236 4.45 12 Laura DeBruler, Illinois 282 4.41 13 Hayley Hills, Eastern Wash. 254 4.38 14 Julie Rubenstein, Pepperdine 232 4.38 15 Ashley Adams, Samford 267 4.38
DeBruler posted the first 20-20 performance by an Illini in six years with 24 kills on a career-high 80 swings to go along with 22 digs. The last Illinois player to accomplish that was Sue Webber, who had 22 kills and 26 digs vs. Minnesota on Oct. 12, 2002.
DeBruler followed that with 21 kills and 15 digs in a four-set victory over Iowa on Saturday.
DeBruler now has seven 20-kill matches this season, including a 31-kill performance vs. no. 11 Oregon. That gives her 22 20-kill matches for her career, which moves her to third place on the Illini's all-time list.
Illinois career 20-kill matches 1. Rachel VanMeter (`01-'05) 29 2. Erin Borske (`94-'95) 28 3. Laura DeBruler (2007-08) 22 4. Tracey Marshall (`96-'99) 19 5. Mary Coleman (`95-'98) 18 6. Shadia Haddad (`98-'01) 16 7. Bridget Boyle (`86-'89) 13 Nancy Brookhart (`86-'89) 13 9. Betsy Spicer (`97-2000) 11 Petra Laverman (`88-'90) 11Nelson picking up steam