Team keeps positive mindset after first loss



By Anthony Zilis

Losing is never fun, and fortunately for the Illini volleyball team, they were perfect heading into the Billikin Invitational hosted by St. Louis University.

That all changed when they lost to perennial powerhouse Stanford on Saturday.

But the No. 17 Illini (8-1) are trying not to dwell on their only defeat of the season.

“It was a loss, we talked about what happened and we had to move on after it, and that’s really important for us,” senior setter Lizzie Bazzetta said.

Coach Don Hardin believes his team was a little too excited to beat the third-ranked team in the nation.

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“I think maybe we were just a little too revved up. Playing a top-ranked team they really wanted to beat em’. These girls are really competitive, they just got a little too geared up,” he said.

The team turned around a few hours later and beat William & Mary, suggesting that they weren’t too down on themselves.

But sophomore Abby Nelson thinks the Illini need to adjust their mentality in order to beat highly-ranked opponents.

“We’re not worried about wins and losses or what team is on the other side of the net, we just have to play our game consistently and play our style,” she said. “Just stay true to ourselves.”


Both Johannah Bangert and Abby Nelson rank in the top 30 in the nation in blocks per set.

The duo make up one of the best blocking combos in the nation, but Nelson said that the improvement has come with a lot of work.

“Both me and Jo worked really hard in the spring, we worked every day on blocking,” the sophomore middle blocker said. “We’re just doing everything we can every day to stay disciplined, because that’s what our job is – we have to block.”


Over the course of a season, aches and pains can strike at any time and the first two weeks for the Illini have been no exception.

After missing the entire 2006 season with a nerve damage in her right leg, Kayani Turner’s injury has acted up from time to time, but Hardin doesn’t see it as a big deal and she isn’t expected to miss any games.

“Her condition hasn’t been getting progressively worse, it’s been a little bit here and there. So far, so good,” he said.

In addition to Turner, junior outside hitter Kylie McCulley (foot) and Abby Nelson (hip) are feeling effects of the first two weeks of the season, but neither are expected to miss any time.