Johannah Bangert leads the nation at 1.67 blocks per set.
Oct. 26, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
Illinois enters the second half of the Big Ten season on a seven-match winning streak and in a tie for second in the conference. With victories at Wisconsin and Iowa over the weekend, the Illini move to 16-3 overall and 8-2 in the Big Ten and the national rankings continue to reflect that success. Illinois moved up to No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches poll while remaining fourth in the RPI. For the third week in a row, the Illini also earned the conference's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award as junior Johannah Bangert claimed the honor for the second time this month and fourth time in her career.
Bangert led the nation in blocks in 2008 and has moved back to the top again this season. The junior from Washington, Mo., is actually ahead of last year's pace, averaging 1.67 blocks per set after averaging 1.60 a year ago. She and the Illini have put together some incredible blocking numbers in recent weeks.
Bangert hit .455 with seven kills and 14 blocks vs. Wisconsin, one shy of the school single-match total blocks record with one solo block and a school-record tying 13 block assists. That comes just a week after also putting up 13 block assists vs. Purdue. Bangert added eight blocks vs. Iowa, giving her 2.03 block assists during conference play, which is a commanding lead over the rest of the league. Illinois has been dominant as a team in the blocks department as well out-blocking its opponents by a combined 35-13 this weekend and Big Ten opponents 124.5-68 through 10 matches. The Illini defense held Wisconsin and Iowa to a combined .043 hitting percentage in the two matches.
Illinois moved past both Kentucky and Nebraska from eighth to sixth in the national poll behind only Penn State, Texas, Hawaii, Stanford and Washington. This is the highest Illinois has been ranked since beginning the 1993 season at No. 6. Minnesota is seventh with Nebraska, Iowa State and Florida rounding out the top 10. Michigan checks in at 13 with non-conference opponents Florida State and Saint Louis remaining at 17th and 24th, respectively. The Illini are fourth in the RPI behind only Texas, Florida State and Penn State. Minnesota and Michigan are fifth and sixth, respectively.