Bazzetta, Illini defeat Flyers in four

Lizzie Bazzetta, setter for Illinois, does her job setting the ball for Kayani Turner (not pictured), outside hitter, Tuesday night at Huff Hall in Champaign. Amelia Moore The Daily Illini

By Lucas Deal

In a match filled with incredible volleys and fantastic finishes, the Illinois volleyball team held on to defeat Dayton 30-21, 30-19, 23-30 and 31-29 on Tuesday night at Huff Hall.

Illini setter Lizzie Bazzetta recorded 61 assists in the match, but it was her only two kills of the match that finally pushed the Illini over the top and finished off the Flyers.

With the fourth game tied at 29-29, Bazzetta faked a set and slipped the ball over the net and past the outstretched arms of Dayton’s defense for a 30-29 lead.

On the very next play, Bazzetta again found another hole and the ball found the floor to give the Illini the victory.

“I was moving it around and the hitters were getting the job done for most of the match, and because they were doing such an amazing job (Dayton) opened up (the net) for me and it worked at the end,” Bazzetta said.

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The win moves Illinois’ record to 9-1 while Dayton falls to 7-4. Illinois is now the only unranked team to beat the Flyers this season.

Illinois head coach Don Hardin said a win against an opponent like Dayton, in the fashion in which the Illini won, could go far towards the team’s success in the Big Ten season.

But, he hopes every match isn’t as topsy-turvy as this one was.

Illinois opened the match in dominating fashion, using an 11-0 run midway through the first game to cruise to a nine-point win.

The Illini offense continued its hot hitting in the second game while rolling to an eleven-point win. Through the first two games, Illinois’ offense hit a fantastic .457.

But things immediately began to turn at the start of the third game as Dayton grabbed an early 10-9 lead. The Illini kept the game back-and-forth for several points before the Flyers were able to pull away.

Dayton continued to hang around in the fourth game as the two teams clawed their way towards 30.

But after an Illini block on a Dayton kill gave the Illini a 29-27 lead, the match appeared all but over.

Hardin urged the crowd to cheer and all 952 in attendance responded, but an Amy Palash service error and Dayton kill quickly pulled the game even, thus setting up Bazzetta’s heroics.

“Amy really wanted to beat these guys and before the game we had to calm her down so she would be ready to play,” Hardin said.

“I think she got a little amped up at the end,” he added.

Vicki Brown led the Illini with 21 kills while Kayani Turner had 18, Stephanie Alde had 15 and Meghan MacDonald had 11.

The Illini have the next nine days off, and will not hit the court again until their Sept. 22 Big Ten opener against Wisconsin at Huff Hall.