Illini volleyball falls to ranked Michigan

By Meghan Montemurro

The Illinois volleyball team had No. 10 Michigan right where they wanted them. Going into the fifth game tied 2-2, the Wolverines were fighting for their life on their home court against a young, feisty Illini squad.

Illinois was not able to pull away, though, losing in five games, 27-30, 30-23, 27-30, 30-28, 13-15.

Illinois (8-4, 0-2 Big Ten) looked to its offense to get on track against Michigan (13-0, 1-0) with four players in double-digit kills.

“Lizzie (Bazzetta) distributed the ball well and kept them off-balance,” Hardin said. “Vicki was really stellar; she was remarkable. Everybody played well offensively … “

Freshman Laura DeBruler led the Illini with 18 kills alongside her 11 digs. The senior hitting tandem of Vicki Brown and Stefanie Alde were a force throughout the game. Brown finished with 17 kills, seven blocks and hit .344 while Alde tallied 16 more kills for the offense.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“Some players on any team can play well, but Vicki is really our emotional leader and one of our competitive leaders,” Hardin said. “She doesn’t just get kills, she makes statements with how she plays, and she leads us that way so we really depend on her doing it.”

Johannah Bangert stepped up for Illinois and contributed in every area. Defensively she made her presence known, tying the team lead for blocks at seven. Overall, the defense held its own yet again against a nationally-ranked team, with 14 team blocks along with 71 digs.

“If our defense wasn’t as good as it is we wouldn’t really be where we are at right now,” DeBruler said. “Our defense is keeping us in games.”

After winning games two and four, the Illini looked like they were going to fall apart after going down 7-3 against the Wolverines.

Illinois came back and went out in front 10-9, but Michigan tied the game at 11 and never looked back.

“We were up and down and we fought hard and we just pushed it to the limit in game five and came up short,” Hardin said.

“There was never a quitting attitude and it was just a matter of Michigan getting the breaks at the right time at the end of the game,” he added.

For the Illini, the hard work and effort put into the beginning of this long season will soon start to pay off.

“Stefanie Alde put it great and said, ‘This is only the beginning, and for us to be at this high of a level in these first two games against ranked teams, just imagine how much further we’re going to be going once we really get into the Big Ten season,'” Brown said. “So I think that’s one thing we learned and experienced so far this season, and it will only get better.”