Illini volleyball team faces tough tourney

Suzanne Stelmasek

Suzanne Stelmasek

By Lucas Deal

It’s not every day that a Big Ten volleyball team gets the chance to play an in-state rival, Big East and SEC team in the same weekend, but that’s exactly what the Illinois volleyball team has to face this weekend in the Marquette Kick-off Tourney in Milwaukee.

The tournament will begin for the Illini at 3 p.m. today against Ole Miss and will continue with Saturday and Sunday matches against Marquette and Loyola-Chicago.

Illini setter Lizzie Bazzetta had a fantastic tournament in the State Farm Illini Classic last weekend at Huff Hall and is eager to hit the road for the first time in 2006.

“The teams we are playing, they’re top teams, and it should be a fun tournament,” she said, adding, “It’s going to be a good tournament for us to be in.”

This will be Illinois’ first trip to the Marquette tourney and Saturday night’s 7 p.m. contest between the Illini and the Golden Eagles will mark the first time the two schools have met. Illinois is 1-0 all-time against Ole Miss and 7-3 against Loyola.

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    Illini head coach Don Hardin has spent much of the past week fixing minor problems he saw during his team’s State Farm Classic sweep and Hardin expects his team to play much crisper this weekend. That is, other than typical road-match jitters.

    “This time of year, we do more work on ourselves,” he said. “We did spend some time watching the teams, watching their video from their matches last weekend, but mostly we’ve concentrated on what we have to do.”

    Hardin said he has made some changes.

    “We’ve got a long list of things to work on; the list is longer than the season,” he said. “But for the week, we’ve just worked on some situational things. We’ve worked on managing our passes better. Last weekend we had some serves get passed over and we didn’t know what to do with that. Those should be converted to points.

    “Basically, we have to be ready for what we saw last week; we just have to be ready for it in a road and visiting setting.”