Aug. 28, 2010
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A valiant effort by the Gamecocks fell short against the sixth-ranked team in the country, as Illinois took a three-set victory over South Carolina, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23, on day two of the State Farm Illini Classic in Huff Hall.
Seniors led the way for the Gamecocks (0-2), as Hannah Lawing topped all players with 20 digs and Megan Laughlin led the Gamecocks with 12 kills. Sophomore Brandi Byers played well after coming in during the second set, hitting .600 (3-0-5) while making a team-best four blocks. Laura DeBruler led Illinois (2-0) with 19 kills and 12 digs. Jennifer Bonilla had 11 dings, while Michelle Bartsch had 11 digs, seven kills and three blcoks. Johannah Bangert had a match-best four blocks and seven kills. Erin Johnson also added seven kills.
Illinois took an 8-4 lead in the first thanks to a five-point run that included a kill and a block assist by Hillary Haen. The lead grew to 19-12 after the Illini took five of six points in a stretch. But the Gamecocks fought back, taking the next five points to close the gap to 19-17. Laughlin had three kills in the stretch. Illinois would close out the frame at 25-21, however, with Bangert’s kill and block assist helping to end the Gamecocks’ run. Laughlin had six of the Gamecocks’ 13 kills in the first, while DeBruler tallied five for Illinois.
A back-and-forth affair, the second set went Illinois’ way, 25-21. The teams swapped three-point skeins then two-point stands twice before the Gamecocks knotted things up at 12-12 thanks to a kill from Cara Howley. South Carolina held a 17-15 lead after a three-point string started by a Christina Glover kill. But the Illini answered with four straight to force a Gamecock timeout. DeBruler had three kills in the stand, including two from the back row. The first break didn’t help, as Illinois got two more points to make it 21-17. South Carolina could not pull off the win, though, as the Illini won the frame, 25-21. Laughlin hit .800 (4-0-5) in the set, while Lawing had 10 digs. DeBruler led Illinois with seven kills.
South Carolina held the advantage for most of the third set, but Illinois closed strong to take the frame, 25-23. A four-point run bookmarked by kills from Glover and Laughlin gave the Gamecocks a 9-6 lead. Another four-point run put the Gamecocks back on top, 14-11. The advantage grew to 22-17 before Illinois started coming back. Four straight kills by the Illini, two by Bartsch, forced South Carolina to use both timeouts. A swinging kill from Gamecock setter Taylor Bruns, who had 29 assists, stopped the slide for a second, but Illinois came back with four straight points to close the set. Bartsch and Johnson combined for the match-clinching block. DeBruler recorded seven kills in the final set as well.
The Gamecocks held Illinois to a .178 hitting percentage, but the Illini won every statistical battle as a team.