Illinois volleyball team prepares for game at Wisconsin

By Meghan Montemurro

With the pressures of playing at home behind it, the Illinois volleyball team now turns its attention toward No. 11 Wisconsin for midweek Big Ten action.

Splitting a home series this past weekend, the Illini (18-8, 7-7 Big Ten) hope to carry over some of their momentum from their emotional victory against the Spartans on Saturday.

The road has been Illinois’ friend as it sits 6-1 in Big Ten play and 8-2 overall away from Huff Hall. The Illini are in the middle of their longest Big Ten road winning streak since 1992 with six straight victories and they are feeling confident heading into Madison, Wis.

“Knowing that Michigan State beat Wisconsin and we beat Michigan State already gives us a little boost of confidence,” libero Ashley Edinger said.

The last time Illinois played Wisconsin (20-3, 12-2) earlier this season at Huff Hall, it accounted for the longest game in Illini history when the team won 41-39. The loss to the Badgers was the only non-five game loss this season, with eight of Illinois’ nine defeats coming in five games.

After a huge performance against Michigan State, the Illinois offense will continue to look toward freshman outside hitter Laura DeBruler.

DeBruler leads all freshmen in the nation in kills per game with 5.00, which is also good for 15th in the country. DeBruler leads the conference in kills per game as well and points per game with 5.45. For DeBruler, the focus is on the team.

“This is a new game and we still have to come out fired up and determined just like the last time,” DeBruler said. “We just need to play consistent.”

While consistent play is a must, head coach Don Hardin knows the team will need to slow down Wisconsin’s blocking game, as it is one of the best in the conference combined with its solid serve game.

“They have good upper-class leadership and if we get them on the ropes we better finish it because if we give them time to recover they will,” Hardin said.

The game against Wisconsin will start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.