Volleyball sets high hopes for second half of season



By Meghan Montemurro

With the first half of the Big Ten schedule over, the Illinois volleyball team looks forward to a “new season” and the second half of the Big Ten schedule.

That season will begin on the road as the Illini travel to the state of Indiana to face Purdue and Indiana this weekend.

Despite two home losses this past weekend, the orange and blue are confident heading into the weekend with their 4-1 road record in the Big Ten. Even with two recent five-game losses, the Illini see no reason why they can’t return home with two more victories.

“We are very confident on the road,” Senior Amy Palash said. “Knock on wood; we have a good winning streak going on the road, so hopefully we can keep that going.”

With Purdue up first Friday night, the Illini will look to come out fast against a team that is in third place in the Big Ten. The loss to the Boilermakers on Oct. 8 was a winnable one, as they fell in five, losing 3-2.

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Illinois head coach Don Hardin said the game plan for this weekend is simple.

“We just have to control our rhythm and the tempo of our game and keep pressure on the opponent,” Hardin said.

Trying to put their 1-7 record in game fives behind them, the Illini expect to continue to improve their all around game. Hardin said the team can’t go out and play at different levels based on the opponent, and that sustaining a high level will be important.

The Illinois offense will look to add more firepower back into the lineup with the return of sophomore outside hitter Kylie McCulley. McCulley has been nursing a foot injury and will look to get her first action since Texas A&M; Corpus Christi on Aug. 31.

After the two home losses to Purdue and Indiana, the Illini expect to return the favor this weekend.

“We have fun on the road together,” libero Ashley Edinger said. “It’s nice to go out and beat other people at their place with their fans.”