Northwestern bounces Illini spikers

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois volleyball coach Don Hardin is getting tired of moral victories.

Hardin's team, which has battled through recent injuries, lost 30-25, 25-30, 30-26, 30-27 to Northwestern on Wednesday night.

Like a fine wine, former Urbana star getting better with age

CHAMPAIGN – During a chance meeting last summer with her former high school soccer coach, Ella Masar heard this supremely confident prediction:

"This is your year – junior year," Randy Blackman told the Illinois forward. "Just like high school."

Bayne lifts Illini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jessica Bayne scored in the 68th minute to lead the 16th-ranked Illinois soccer team to a 1-0 victory against Iowa on Friday.

The Illini (12-6, 8-2 Big Ten) finished the regular season with the most conference wins in the program's history. The team is seeded second in next week's Big Ten tournament and will face Wisconsin in State College, Pa.

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Zurrer rates additional honors

PARK RIDGE – Illinois sophomore Emily Zurrer, a defender, was named to Soccer Buzz's Elite Team of the Week and Soccer America's Team of the Week on Wednesday.

Illini Fudge's ITA run ends

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Illinois freshman Megan Fudge ended her deep run at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships on Monday with a loss to Colleen Rielley of Notre Dame, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the semifinals in East Lansing.

Fudge reached the semis after taking out Randi Schuler of Purdue, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, becoming the first Illini to make it past the quarters since Jennifer McGaffigan in 2003.

Defense carries Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois soccer team posted its fourth shutout in six matches Sunday, stopping No. 21 Indiana 1-0 on Ella Masar's goal in the 39th minute.

"Indiana's not a team that gives up goals, so for us to get a goal and to get it early and know that we had one in the bank was a big thing," Illinois coach Janet Rayfield said. "And I think we're pretty confident in our defense right now that we can keep the ball out of the back of the net."

Three coaches have built soccer program into 'perennial Top 20'

It was one of those meet-the-neighbors moments that Jillian Ellis never will forget.

Hired by the University of Illinois in 1997 to start a women's soccer program, the then-30-year-old was moving into her new house on Halifax Drive in Champaign when Don and Marylin Karr walked over to say hi.

Defense powers soccer at home

CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois soccer team continues to defend its home turf when ranked teams come calling this season.

The Illini defense isn't half bad, either.

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