Seniors prepare for last match at Huff Hall

Abby Nelson and Kylie McCulley go up for a block at the home game against Indiana on Nov. 15 in Huff Hall. Erica Magda

Abby Nelson and Kylie McCulley go up for a block at the home game against Indiana on Nov. 15 in Huff Hall. Erica Magda

By Kyle Diller

The seniors on the No. 16 Illinois volleyball team will leave it all on the court of Huff Hall when they battle Michigan State on Saturday in the last regular season home match of their collegiate careers.

Coming off a big win at No. 18 Purdue on Wednesday night, the Orange and Blue will need to continue their winning tendencies at home against the Spartans and on the road at Wisconsin and Northwestern while the Big Ten standings remain as tight as ever.

“The students have been great, I hope we have a great turn out to say goodbye to the seniors,” head coach Don Hardin said. “Immediately following the match, the three seniors will be honored, and they’ll say a few words and there will be a reception for them down on the south side of the gym. I know it will mean a lot to them.”

Not only is this win needed for the Illini in the standings, but it will also be important for the seniors to win their final home match in front of their loyal crowd at Huff Hall. Seniors Lizzie Bazzetta, Kayani Turner and Kristine Anderson will bid farewell when they walk off the court of Huff Hall on Saturday night.

“Lizzie Bazzetta has been on the court a lot helping us. She has developed into a phenomenal leader for our team, and on and off the court her leadership skills are just becoming superb,” Hardin said. “Kayani Turner and Kristine Anderson have really been through a lot of adversity with health and injuries. While doctors and medical staff wouldn’t have blamed them for hanging it up, they stayed with it out of the love for the game and support for our team.”

Bazzetta has been an inspirational leader for the Orange and Blue throughout her career. With more than 3,700 assists, Bazzetta will finish fourth on Illinois’ all-time assists list.

And if the Illini are to beat Michigan State, she’ll need to be at the top of her game in the home finale.

“I’m trying not to think about it because I know it’s going to be an emotional night, but I think the important thing right now is just try to focus on the match,” Bazzetta said. “Maybe it won’t be the last match at Huff, hopefully if we finish off strong, we can get back to Huff and play at home in the first round, which would be awesome.”

Although the seniors will say goodbye, they also face a must-win match, and there are few better at dominating a match and getting kills for the Illini than sophomore Laura DeBruler.

“We just want to go out there and really recognize the seniors and everything that they’ve done for the program for us,” DeBruler said. “Hopefully, we just go out there and have fun and we get a win.”