Women’s volleyball to wrap up three-match stint

Womens volleyball to wrap up three-match stint

By Jessica Warchall

The Illinois volleyball team looks to finish its three-match home stint on a positive note as they play Northwestern at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.

“It’s a very important win for us because we needed to win at least two out of three of these (past) matches,” head coach Don Hardin said. “To lose all three would be really tough for the team at this time.”

Hardin said he thinks his players are tired of coming within points of a win but unable to close out the games as they did this past weekend against Michigan and Michigan State.

However, he said this week’s strong practice showed key players, such as senior defensive specialist Beth Vrdsky and freshman libero Ashley Edinger, remaining “upbeat and pushing hard.”

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“It was inspirational to see that even though we were flat in some areas, players like Beth and Ashley on defense were flying in to chairs and in to walls like it was match point for the national title,” Hardin said.

That kind of effort, he said, is infectious.

Northwestern is one of the best serving teams in the Big Ten conference, and it will be a test for Illinois. Hardin said the opponent runs a fast offense.

The Wildcats are 5-7 in the Big Ten and 11-10 overall. The Illini swept the Wildcats in Evanston earlier this season.

“We blocked them well last time, so I know this time around they will be more prepared for that,” Hardin said.

Sophomore setter Lizzie Bazzetta earned the Defensive Player of the Week title earlier this month when the Illini faced Northwestern and Iowa. She said she will not focus on that honor but will focus on playing like the last meeting.

“If we bring the same attitude and game that we brought the first time we played (Northwestern), I think we can (win) it again,” Bazzetta said.

The win will not be easy, she said, adding that the team needs to pick up the pace from the past weekend’s performances.

Junior outside hitter Stephanie Alde said the Illini will be able to pull their game together in order to finish with a quick win at Northwestern.

Illinois is still recovering from sophomore outside hitter Kayani Turner’s and junior outside hitter Amy Palash’s injuries. Turner missed practice this week with a nerve disorder where her stress fracture occurred last year, Hardin said, and Palash is recovering from a knee injury.

Hardin said the two injured players are turning the corner in their recoveries.

Turner will most likely come in to play tonight when she is needed for freshman outside hitter Kylie McCulley and Alde.

The Illini are now 4-8 in the Big Ten and 13-9 overall. The team hopes to improve on its 8th place position in the conference tonight.


Slideshow Media Credit: Adam Babcock The Daily Illini

1. Illinois’ Beth Vrdsky winds up for a serve during the match against Michigan State, Saturday, October 28, 2006 at Huff Hall.

2. Illinois’ Kayani Turner gets under a return during the match against Michigan State, Saturday, October 28, 2006 at Huff Hall. Turner was Illinois’ leading scorer with 15 points over the match.

3. Illinois’ Amy Palash, left, gets under a serve as Ashley Edinger looks on during the match against Michigan State, Saturday, October 28, 2006 at Huff Hall.

4. Illinois junior Vicki Brown, behind, winds up to strike the set from Lizzie Bazzetta during the match against Michigan State, Saturday, October 28, 2006 at Huff Hall. Brown had 9 points over the match.