Freshman Kaylin Korte made Illinois volleyball debut at Nike Invitational

Illinois+headcoach+Kevin+Hambly+on+the+sidelines+during+the+match+against+Northwestern+at+Huff+Hall+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+7%2C+2015.+Illinois+won+3-1.

Karolina Marczewski

Illinois’ headcoach Kevin Hambly on the sidelines during the match against Northwestern at Huff Hall on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. Illinois won 3-1.

By Jacob Diaz and James Boyd, Staff writers

Freshman Kaylin Korte was a three-time MVP at Morris High School before she committed to play volleyball for Illinois.

But when she arrived on campus, her role changed drastically from high-ranked recruit to injured newcomer.

Korte suffered an abdominal injury before the regular season started, and before she had the chance to earn a consistent spot in rotation, it was taken away.

The outside hitter returned to action and made her Illinois debut in the Nike Invitational against an Oregon program that had won three-straight matches.

She was subbed in halfway through the first set after the Ducks jumped out to a 12-1 lead. Illinois eventually dropped the set, 10-25, but the 6-foot-2 outside hitter recorded the first two kills of her collegiate career.

“At first, it was a little nerve-wracking obviously (to play in my first game),” Korte said. “But it was very exciting. I had a blast competing with my teammates.”

Korte has only been back from injury for one week, and is looking forward to getting more reps in practice before the Billiken Invitational and eventual Big Ten play.

Hambly awards players an off-day

Head coach Kevin Hambly is relieved that this week’s tournament is in nearby St. Louis after two-straight trips west.

“After the trips we’ve made, I feel like they took a toll on us,” Hambly said.

Hambly gave the team Monday an off-day of practice after a long trip home Sunday that took the team through San Francisco and Chicago on the way home from Eugene, Oregon.

Korte was thankful for the day off so that she could catch up on her schoolwork.

“I think all of us are kind of behind on homework after two weeks missing classes,” she said. “It’s such a blast though, traveling with my coaches and my teammates, so I can’t complain.”

Bastianelli continues seeing improvement after injury

Sophomore Ali Bastianelli continued her strong play in the team’s three matches this weekend, leading the team in blocks for all three matches.

Part of her improvement as of late is due to Bastianelli taking a bigger part in the offense, but she also has fully recovered from surgery she had last spring to repair a torn labrum in her shoulder.

“It’s been seven months (since my surgery),” Bastianelli said. “I feel great, I don’t have pain anymore.”

Although the pain was obviously an important thing to get over, Bastianelli said that the mental challenges of having to stay in the best shape she could without actually hitting a volleyball was more difficult for her. Another challenge for Bastianelli was that this was her first major injury.

“The only other surgery I’ve had was on my wisdom teeth,” She said. “So this was the first time I really went under.”

Bastianelli said that her teammates and coaches helped her get through the surgery by sending her positive and supportive messages throughout the surgery and rehab process.

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