Volleyball signs 2 for 2005

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Mike Czapar

The Illinois women’s volleyball team announced three new recipients of scholarships for the 2005-2006 season, Wednesday. The Illini signed two new athletes; 5-10 setter Lizzie Bazzetta and 6-3 middle blocker Rachel Henderson, and also announced the awarding of a scholarship to current sophomore defensive specialist Beth Vrdsky.

Illinois’s first new recruit Lizzie Bazzetta will follow the footsteps of her older sister current Illini senior defensive specialist Kathleen Bazzetta. Lizzie Bazzetta is preceded at Illinois not only by her sister, but also by her aunts Kathleen and Eileen Gartland, who both played volleyball in the 1970s.

Bazzetta has compiled a long list of honors while playing at Naperville North, including being named Player of the Year by the Naperville Sun, All-Area by the Chicago Sun Times and the DuPage Daily Herald and unanimous selection to the first-team All-DuPage Valley Conference team.

Head coach Don Hardin is excited about the athleticism of Lizzie Bazzetta and emphasized what immediate effect she would have on the team.

“Lizzie Bazzetta is a phenomenal athlete and will be immediately competing for a spot at setter next year,” Hardin said. “She is very talented all around and is a great outside hitter and a great blocker. It’s pretty easy for me to say that she’ll probably be the most athletic player that we’ve ever had.”

Because of the injection of such a talented setter, Hardin is considering a two-setter offense for next year’s team, similar to the styles of volleyball powerhouses USC and Minnesota.

The Illini’s second new player, Henderson, is the team MVP at Wheaton South and has compiled some impressive stats and honors over her tenure with the Tigers. Henderson has tallied an attack average of .477 and .446 in her past two seasons, while carrying her team to three regional championships, a fourth place state finish in 2002 and two DuPage Invitational championships. Henderson was also selected to the All-Academic DuPage Valley Conference team.

Hardin said he is excited about the possibility of Henderson playing either middle or outside hitter and looks forward to seeing her complement current players.

“Rachel is playing on a very good club team which will help develop her skills and her footwork as a middle,” Hardin said. “Depending on our personnel for next year, Rachel could be excellent on the right side to help replace Jessica Belter. We’ll have a lot of good combinations to play with for next year.”

Hardin recognized the high school accomplishments of the two newest members of the Illini but emphasized the potential for the great things to come from Bazzetta and Henderson.

“What we need to realize is that these two ladies truly have their best years ahead of them,” Hardin said. “Everything they’ve done so far has been good, but we really see even better things ahead.”