Seniors Kristine Anderson, Kayani Turner & Lizzie Bazzetta play their final regular season home match Saturday.
Nov. 18, 2008
Illinois-Purdue rematch on BTN, part of Illinois doubleheader: For the second time this season, the Illinois-Purdue match-up will be featured on the Big Ten Network. The match begins at 6 p.m. CT Wednesday and will feature Brent Stover on the play-by-play and Elizabeth Moreau as the analyst. The Illinois women's basketball team makes their season debut on the BTN following the match with an 8:30 pm home date against Missouri
Home court on the line? One doesn't know just what will happen on Selection Sunday (Nov. 30), but speculation could be made that Wednesday's Purdue-Illinois match-up could be for home court in the NCAA Tournament. With the schools less than 100 miles apart and with so many possible NCAA teams in this proximity, it seems likely that at least one school will host.
Illinois and Purdue are sixth and seventh, respectively, in the latest RPI and another area team, Saint Louis, is ninth. Illinois and Purdue both have wins over SLU and the Illini won the earlier meeting with the Boilermakers in three straight sets. So, a victory Wednesday could give the Illini the inside track at a top 16 seed and a chance to host the first and second rounds.
More on the earlier meeting: Illinois defeated Purdue 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 in Champaign on Oct. 22. Laura DeBruler had one of her best matches as an Illini with 19 kills and seven digs while hitting a robust .395, including hitting .529 with 10 kills in the opening set.
Traveling partners battle for third: Illinois and Purdue had a couple of common non-conference opponents in Dayton and Saint Louis and as travel partners have played the conference schedule in virtually the same order. The teams have had exact the same weekends with only two exceptions. Illinois swept the season series with Michigan while Purdue split and the Boilers defeated Northwestern while the Wildcats downed the Illini in five sets. Therefore, the only match separating the two teams in the standings is that match in Champaign.
Illinois vs. ranked teams
Illinois has a 6-5 record vs. ranked teams, the third most wins vs. ranked opponents in a season in school history. The Illini had nine victories over ranked foes in 1992 and eight in 1987.
Illinois remains 6th in the RPI
The NCAA released its third RPI rankings on Monday, Nov. 10. Illinois, whose strength of schedule is among the best in the country, is ranked 6th in the rankings. Friday's opponent, Penn State, is first. Illinois has played six of the other nine teams ranked in the top 10 this season.
RPI Rankings (Nov. 10) 1 Penn St. 26-0 2 Stanford 21-3 3 Nebraska 23-1 4 Minnesota 20-6 5 Texas 19-3 6 Illinois 19-6 7 Purdue 20-6 8 Washington 19-4 9 St. Louis 22-4 10 Oregon 20-5 11 Florida 20-2 12 Tulane 22-5 13 California 20-4 14 Utah 19-5 15 Colorado St. 20-3 16 Hawaii 21-3 17 Kansas St. 21-5 18 Southern California 14-8 19 Wichita St. 26-0 20 San Diego 19-3Illini host Michigan State Saturday: Illinois plays its final home match on Saturday against Michigan State. The Illini needed just 80 minutes to defeat the Spartans on Oct. 24 in East Lansing. That ended a stretch of three matches in six days for Illinois. Kylie McCulley hit .542 with 14 kills in the victory. The Illini hit .321 as a team, including .444 in the second set.
Seniors play final home match
Three Illinois seniors will be playing their final home regular season match on Saturday. Here are capsules of the three graduating seniors:
Kristine Anderson is in her second season with the Illini after transferring from Parkland College. The defensive specialist posted a career-best 18 digs against Penn State last year and 19 digs in a pair of matches at the the 2007 State Farm Illini Classic. The native of Clinton, Ill., is majoring in elementary education and earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. She is the daughter of Rick and Diane Anderson.
Lizzie Bazzetta has been a four-year regular at setter and will leave Illinois fourth all-time in career assists with over 3,700. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient has 19 double-doubles in the past two seasons. She was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2007 State Farm Illini Classic and the 2006 Marquette Tip-Off Classic. She earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 2, 2006. The native of Naperville is the daughter of Bob and Mary Jean Bazzetta.
Kayani Turner has been an inspiration to all Illini fans. Despite battling through an array of injuries, Kayani returned to the court this season where she provided a key stuff block in the win over Michigan. In 2006, she ranked third in the Big Ten in kills per set and was among the top 15 in the nation in kills throughout much of the season. She is the last remaining link to the 2004 NCAA qualifying team. A native of Bel Air, Md., Kayani is majoring in communication and has been named Academic All-Big Ten. She is the daughter of Mike and Beverly Turner.
Season has been a breakout Illinois has burst back onto the national scene this year. Here are a few of the accomplishments along that realm.
At 11-5, the Illini have won more conference matches than any since 2003 and have won 20 matches overall for the first time since `03.
Saw its first national ranking since 2004
Defeated two ranked teams in the same day for the first time ever with a 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-14 victory over New Mexico State in the afternoon and a comeback 14-25, 16-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-13 over no. 11 Oregon in the evening at the State Farm Illini Classic.
Defeated three ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 2003. The Illini are now 6-5 vs. ranked opponents this season.
Won at Michigan and Ohio State in the same season since 1998
Defeated Wisconsin, annually one of the teams in conference, for the first time since 2004.
Shooting for its first NCAA appearance since 2004 and its first upper division Big Ten finish since 2003.
Edinger breaks digs record: Ashley Edinger became Illinois' all-time digs leader on Nov. 1 in a win over Ohio State. Edinger holds two of the top three digs seasons in Illinois history, including 564 last year. She also topped 1,000 digs in just her 57th match of her career. Tracey Marshall, who was Illinois' all-time digs leader with 1,426, recorded her 1,000th career dig in her 80th match.
She also had 35 digs vs Dayton, her sixth 30+digs match of her career.
With 460 digs, Edinger is on pace for 528 this year, which would give her three of the top four single-season digs seasons in school history.
Illinois career digs list 1. Ashley Edinger 1,512 2. Tracey Marshall 1,426 3. Mary Coleman 1,393 4. Lauren Harks 1,346 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. Ashley Edinger (2008) 460 6. Erin Borske (1995) 396 7. Lauren Harks (2003) 393 8. Mary Coleman (1998) 391 9. Shadia Haddad (2000) 371 10. Shadia Haddad (2001) 368
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
Edinger nearing Big Ten digs list: Edinger now has 1,512 digs for her career on pace for 2,120, which would be fourth best in Big Ten history.
Big Ten's All-Time Digs List 1. 2,791 Paula Gentil, MINN 2002-05 2. 2,182 Jocelyn Wack, WIS 2004-07 3. 2,178 Stesha Selsky, MICH 2004-07 4. 1,957 Kaleena Walters, PSU 2002-05 5. 1,931 Janet Moylan, IOWA 1987-90 6. 1,920 Susan Wohlford, WIS 1988-91 7. 1,658 Christie Gardner, NU 2002-05 8. 1,632 Jenny Rees, IOWA 1987-90 9. 1,572 Stacey Gordon, OSU 2001-04 10. 1,564 Becky Kanitz, PUR 1985-88
Bangert leads nation in blocks
For the fourth week in a row, Illinois middle blocker Johannah Bangert leads the nation in blocks at 1.56 digs per set.
Bangert not only leads the Big Ten in blocking in overall matches, but also with a 1.67 blocks per set average in conference matches. Michelle Bartsch is eighth at 1.27. The only other player in school history to lead the conference in blocks was Denise Fracaro in 1984.
Bangert and the record book
With 159 total blocks this year, Bangert is on pace for 182, 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.
2008 NCAA Division I Block Leaders Name Blocks Average 1 Johannah Bangert, Illinois 159 1.56 2 Anna Breyfogle, Baylor 120 1.52 3 Emily Underwood, Memphis 172 1.51 4 Ashten Stelken, UNI 145 1.49 5 Mekana Barnes, Colorado St. 136 1.48 6 Foluke Akinradewo, Stanford 121 1.48 7 Christa Harmotto, Penn St. 118 1.46 8 Lauren Gibbemeyer, Minnesota 147 1.46 9 Danielle Hepburn, Clemson 146 1.45 10 Anna McKinney, Idaho 143 1.44
Illini block sets tone
Overall, the Illini are ranked 13th nationally with 2.65 blocks per set. A total of four Big Ten teams rank in the top 15 in that category. Wednesday's opponent, Purdue, is 15th.
To put the block surge in perspective, last season Illinois ranked 10th in the Big Ten at 2.23 blocks per, set keeping in mind that last year the teams played to 30 instead of 25.
2008 NCAA Division I Team Block Leaders Team SP BS BA BPS 1 Penn St. 84 60 433 3.29 2 Texas Southern 79 192 110 3.13 3 Colorado St. 92 46 470 3.05 4 Idaho 102 44 520 2.98 5 Louisville 96 89 392 2.97 6 Utah 90 38 453 2.94 7 Minnesota 101 94 384 2.83 8 Kentucky 105 65 460 2.81 9 Memphis 114 59 517 2.79 10 Clemson 101 81 399 2.78 11 UNI 98 44 437 2.68 12 New Mexico St. 95 25 455 2.66 13 Illinois 102 24 492 2.65 14 UCLA 94 42 412 2.64 15 Purdue 105 63 428 2.64
Bazzetta moves up assists charts
Lizzie Bazzetta has 517 assists for the season and 3,727 for her career, which ranks fourth on the all-time Illinois career assists list.
Illinois all-time assists leaders Name Assists Matches Years 1. Melissa Beitz 5,797 114 1996-99 2. Disa Johnson 5,550 141 1984-87 3. Barb Winsett 4,457 128 1987-90 4. Lizzie Bazzetta 3,727 109 2005-08 4. Merrill Mullis 3,661 119 1990-93 6. Betsy Eiserman 3,578 86 2000-02
Illinois earns five Big Ten Player of the Week honors
Illinois has five Big Ten Player of the Week honors this season, including four in five five weeks - Laura DeBruler (Sept. 1 and Nov. 10), Johannah Bangert (Defensive POW on Oct. 13) and Ashley Edinger (Defensive POW on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3). This marks just the third time in school history that the Illini have earned five Big Ten Player of the Week honors in a single season, doing so in both 1986 and 1992.
Laura DeBruler earned her third career Big Ten Player of the Week honor on Sept. 1, while also earning AVCA and CVU.com National Player of the Week.
DeBruler was at the heart of the Illini comeback win over no. 11 Oregon with 22 kills in the final three sets en route to a match-high 31, which also ties a career high.
DeBruler averaged 5.4 kills per set to lead Illinois to the tournament's title. The sophomore recorded a double-double in each match with 14 kills and 15 digs against the Tar Heels, 20 kills and 11 digs vs. the Aggies and 31 kills and 12 saves against the Ducks.
On the weekend DeBruler totaled 65 kills on a .302 hitting percentage with 38 total digs (3.2 dps) and 11 total blocks (0.9 dps).
Johannah Bangert was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 20 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 vs. Michigan.
Ashley Edinger was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 27 in helping lead the Illini to victories over no. 18 Purdue and Michigan State. Edinger averaged 5.2 digs per set with 15 digs against Purdue and 16 vs. Michigan State. She also made just one reception error in 43 total chances.
In a weekend in which she broke the school's career digs record, Ashley Edinger repeated as the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 3. For the weekend, the Michigan City, Ind., native averaged 4.9 digs per set and received serves with 98 percent accuracy as the Illini defeated No. 18 Michigan, 3-2, and the Buckeyes, 3-1. The libero passed her team to a combined .231 hitting mark on the weekend while anchoring the defense that held opponents to a .219 clip
Laura DeBruler earned her second honor on Nov. 10 after becoming just the second player in Illinois history to eclipse the 1,000 career kill mark in her first two seasons, now with 1,049. The sophomore recorded two double-doubles on the road , first with 22 kills and 14 digs in a 3-1 win over Iowa, followed by a 29-kill, 13-dig performance in a five-set match against No. 17 Minnesota.
The Downers Grove, Ill., native leads the conference with 16 overall double-doubles and eight in Big Ten play. She is also the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in kills and digs per set. For the weekend, DeBruler averaged 5.7 kills per set on .305 hitting with 27 total digs and five total blocks for an average of 6.06 points per set.
DeBruler is the only player to rank in the top 10 in the Big Ten in both kills and digs, ranking first in kills per set (4.63) and 10th in digs (3.07), while also ranking 10th in service aces (0.23).
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 now has 11 20-kill matches this season, including a 31-kill performance vs. no. 11 Oregon. That gives her 26 20-kill matches for her career, which moves her to third place on the Illini's all-time list.
DeBruler became just the second Illinois player to surpass the 1,000-kill mark in her first two seasons, now with 1,049
2008 NCAA Division I Kills Leaders Name Blocks Average 1 Yarimar Rosa, Florida Int'l 590 5.27 2 Mackenzie Angner, SDSU 504 5.09 3 Jeanne Fairchild, New Mexico 418 4.80 4 Yun Yi Zhang, Temple 491 4.77 5 Angie Porché, Valparaiso 483 4.64 6 Laura DeBruler, Illinois 472 4.63 7 Burgandy McCurty, Siena 503 4.61 8 Erica Short, Indiana 491 4.59 9 Rachel Rourke, Oregon St. 449 4.54 10 Hayley Hills, Eastern Wash. 431 4.49
Illinois career 20-kill matches 1. Rachel VanMeter (`01-'05) 29 2. Erin Borske (`94-'95) 28 3. Laura DeBruler (2007-08) 26 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) 11
McCulley posts second 20-20 of the season
Kylie McCulley set career highs in both kills and digs with 22 apiece vs. Minnesota. This marked the second player to enter the 20-20 club this year, joining Laura DeBruler. This is the first time multiple Illini have accomplished that feat since 1996 when Tracey Marshall, Mary Coleman and Kelly Scherr did so. Only one player since then (Sue Webber in 2002) has done it.
Bartsch "not playing like a freshman"
Time after time Illinois head coach Don Hardin has said the Michelle Bartsch "does not play like a freshman." The 16th-ranked player out of last year's high school class nationally, played for the U.S. Junior National Team this summer at middle blocker.
Bartsch is also known as a great passer and server, having been named Best Server at the NORCECA Championships, in helping the United States to the gold medal. But she had not served this season until Oct. 31 when she served a key ace in the fifth set in keep the the Illini hopes alive vs. no. 18 Michigan. Illinois won that set and the match, 24-22.
Bartsch has been a key figure on the block in teaming with both Johannah Bangert and Abby Nelson. She has 109 blocks on the season and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in blocks during conference matches (1.27).
Haen playing front row in two-setter system
Illinois utilized a two-setter system during this spring and did so with great success. Although the Illini opened the season using both Hillary Haen and Lizzie Bazzetta in the back row in a 6-2 system, injuries to right side hitters Nicole Kump and Kayani Turner have meant Haen seeing time in the front row as well.
This has not caused a huge challenge for the Illini as this is also one of the line-ups that was used regularly during the spring. That gives Illinois two setters in the match at the same time on three of the six rotations.
Haen has played in the front row the past 14 matches and is hitting .277 with 21 block assists during that time.
Nelson provides support in multiple areas
Sophomore Abby Nelson saw limited action in her first season with Illinois in 2007. This season Nelson has been a force.
Nelson had a big weekend against Michigan and Ohio State with 15 kills and hit .464 in a pair of road victories then hit .533 with eight kills in the return match vs. the Wolverines.
She had eight kills and hit .636 vs. Purdue.
She had eight kills and five blocks while hitting .667 in the victory over New Mexico State, all career highs. She topped that with eight blocks vs. Saint Louis. Nelson also hit .333 at the Billiken Invitational.
In the Tennessee Comcast Classic, Nelson had 24 kills and hit .403
She has hit over .300 11times this season and at least .400 nine times.
Nelson also is tied for first on the team with 23 aces.