Volleyball team to face southern rival on short rest

By Meghan Montemurro

Heading into the last week of non-conference play, the Illinois volleyball team looks to get some more practice in during a short week before facing the Southern Illinois Salukis on Wednesday night.

After a winning, but shaky weekend in the State Farm Illini Classic head coach Don Hardin expects all areas of play to improve.

Southern Illinois did not agree to exchange game tape, so the Illini will have to depend on other sources and teams.

“We know very little about Southern and will have to go into it a little more blind than usual,” Hardin said. “I think it always hurts us because we put a lot of preparation into our matches, and we like to handle all of these matches in similar fashion to Big Ten games.”

The Illini may receive a boost as senior Stefanie Alde was cleared to practice and may play on Wednesday against Southern Illinois and would be an added presence on the floor.

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Illinois will look to continue to work on and improve the building blocks for the team and put time into certain areas such as defense and blocking.

Hardin said the team still has a long way to go, but that it can be seen as “a problem or an opportunity because there is a lot of talent and potential for growth.”

With the injury to Kylie McCulley, depth at certain positions has become an issue.

Freshman Nicole Kump may be moved to the left side to increase the depth at the position while using senior Amy Palash on both the right and left side without limiting her to one position. In order for this to happen, Alde will need to be in the lineup.

Illinois will also need to be prepared to play on short rest.

“We have to be ready for some adjustments on offense, defense or blocking and just being able to make quick adjustments,” senior Vicki Brown said.

One lineup that yielded good results was the front court of Kump, Johannah Bangert and Laura DeBruler, all of whom are freshmen.

“Some of those girls aren’t really freshmen with how you would think of freshmen,” junior Lizzie Bazzetta said. “On this team we don’t really have distinctions, and they build each other up.”

Bazzetta also has the good fortune of playing with Brown. The senior consistently made big play after big play over the weekend, leading her to be named MVP.

“It’s awesome to have someone on your team that you can go to all the time, and she’ll take care of business,” Bazzetta said. “We have a confidence and a trust that if I get the ball to her that she’ll be there.”

With a depleted lineup over the weekend that faced tough competition and came out with two victories, the Illini feel confident heading into Wednesday’s game.

“Having those two out this weekend could have downed our spirits, but coming out and winning was a good confidence booster,” Bazzetta said. “We trust that we’ll be able to get someone else in there and continue on our way.”