Volleyball sweeps through Indiana but still waits to hear word on injured Edinger

The Illinois volleyball team picked up a pair of wins over the weekend, but the Illini are still waiting to find out if they suffered a loss as well.

Only four points away from a victory Saturday night at Purdue, the Illini watched as senior libero Ashley Edinger went down with an injury, apparently to her knee. She was escorted off the court and replaced by sophomore libero Rachel Feldman, who helped the No. 6 Illini finish off a weekend sweep with a three-set win against the Boilermakers, one night after a five-set win at Indiana.

“We’re not really sure what happened yet, we’re just waiting for her to get an MRI to see what happened,” junior Johannah Bangert said. “Rachel came in and she did a really good job in those last few points, so she was able to step up.”

The Illini (18-3, 10-2) had a balanced attack against the Boilermakers, winning 25-21, 25-19, 25-14.

“We really played our style the entire time, everybody was doing their part, playing the way that we needed them to play,” Bangert said. “It was really a team win.”

Junior setter Hillary Haen had a solid performance against Purdue, finishing the night with 34 assists. The Illini had a strong attack from their middle blockers, Bangert and freshman Erin Johnson, who hit .533 and .308, respectively, and combined for 15 kills.

The outside hitters continued their consistent performances as well, with junior Laura DeBruler and sophomore Michelle Bartsch posting 10 kills each and senior Kylie McCulley adding nine. For the first time this season, all three outside hitters hit more than .300.

“That was pretty exciting that all three of them were on their game and just had great performances especially against Purdue,” Haen said. “They really stepped up, it’s kind of nice having all three of them on at the same time, you can set to anyone.”

On Friday night, the Illini had a rougher performance, barely stopping a comeback against Indiana in a five-set battle.

Illinois came out strong winning the first two sets 25-18 and 25-17, with what Bangert called some of the team’s best play of the season. Illinois sided-out at 73 percent in the first set and 83 percent in the second set while hitting a combined .500.

“I thought we were playing as well as we have all season in those first two sets,” head coach Kevin Hambly said in a press release. “We were smooth. We were siding out at a high level. After that, Indiana brought a different level of energy and fight at us, and we didn’t respond real well. We got real tentative with our passing and defense. Winning a match after doing that, though, is a big deal.”

In the third set, the Hoosiers took charge, hitting .464. The Illini had only six kills, a .042 hitting percentage and a 43 side-out percentage, losing 25-13.

“The question is what didn’t we do wrong against Indiana,” Haen said. “We broke down with a lot of the small things that we just haven’t been doing good on all week. We were getting lazy, we need to use that 10-minute break between sets two and three to regain our focus.”

The fourth set was back and forth, but the Illini had two crucial service errors in the last few points, losing the set 28-26. But in the final set, Illinois had the lead the entire time, and DeBruler closed out the set with two kills in the final two points for the win, 15-11.

Now on a nine-game winning streak, the Illini improve to 10-2 in the Big Ten sit alone in second place.

“We have more pressure in actuality from the other teams now because they prepare all week for us because we are ranked so high,” Haen said. “And that’s where the pressure is a little higher, every team wants to beat us now.”