Volleyball continues to have success on the road

By Meghan Montemurro

The Illini volleyball team doesn’t settle for breaking even on the road.

After defeating Purdue and Indiana while away this weekend, Illinois holds a strong 6-1 record when playing away from Huff Hall.

“It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon because we are 6-1 in a really tough conference on the road and we’re almost a reversal at 0-5 at home,” Illinois head coach Don Hardin said. “It’s really bizarre and kind of strange.”

Illinois is now 6-6 in the Big Ten and 14-8 overall and is currently in a third-place tie with a Purdue team they defeated 3-0 on Friday night.

In West Lafayette against the Boilermakers, Illinois came out fighting and looking for revenge after falling to them in five games at home on Oct. 8. Freshman outside hitter Laura DeBruler led the team with a three game season-high 24 kills. Illinois also welcomed back sophomore Kylie McCulley who had been out since Aug. 31 with a foot injury. She contributed 12 kills to the winning effort.

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The Illini defense took a new hit, though, and may have lost junior defensive specialist Kristine Anderson for the season with a possible pulled ACL. The team will get the MRI results on Monday; however, Hardin said it does not look good.

Freshman setter Hilliary Haen got the start this weekend, which was only her second start in the Big Ten season. Haen had 40 assists against Purdue to go along with three block assists and a kill.

“Hillary set great and she showed a lot of poise and really was a great competitive leader on the court,” Hardin said.

Haen started in place of junior Lizzie Bazzetta. Hardin said they went with Haen because “they kept coming up short in a lot of games and needed to make some changes.”

It was more of the same story against Indiana on Saturday, and they finished off the Hoosiers in four games. DeBruler led the team in kills again for the Illini, finishing with 23 to go along with six digs. Senior middle blocker Vicki Brown also had a big night, stepping up in game four and tallying 14 kills and seven blocks in the game.

Taking the first two games from the Hoosiers was a key for the Illini.

“We definitely had some tough losses this past week,” DeBruler said. “We wanted to come out fighting and we really wanted to take it to them and beat them, which is what we did.”

Looking to set the offensive pace, Haen one-upped her performance against Indiana with a career-high 60 assists and 12 digs to record a double-double, her third of the season.

“I was pretty nervous (against Purdue), but the team helped me out a lot, and they responded really well and against Indiana I felt a lot better about it,” Haen said.

Illinois returns home this weekend and looks for their successes on the road to rub off at home. The Illini will welcome Northwestern to Huff Hall Friday at 7 p.m. followed by Michigan State Saturday at 7 p.m.