Without injured DeBruler, Illini can't complete rally

Without injured DeBruler, Illini can't complete rally

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Illinois returns from its two-game road trip still in first place in the Big Ten.

Just not alone.

No. 18 Michigan forged a tie with the sixth-ranked Illini with a 28-26, 25-19, 19-25, 26-24 win Saturday night. The Wolverines and Illini are 5-1 in Big Ten play. Minnesota and Northwestern, both 4-1, face off today.

"In the Big Ten, you have 20 matches, and you want to get as many wins as you can," Michigan coach Mark Rosen said. "You don't get any more points for beating a high-ranked team or a low-ranked team."

Illinois, which needed five sets to win at Michigan State on Friday, got 17 kills from Colleen Ward and 12 from Laura DeBruler.

"I thought we competed harder than we did last night," UI coach Kevin Hambly said. "We had some intensity and got after it, we just didn't execute."

The Illini lost All-American DeBruler to a knee injury in the third set. The senior ran into the official's stand and did not return to the match. Her replacement, Jazmine Orozco, played the rest of the way and had seven kills, five digs and an ace.

"We dug a hole and worked back into it," Hambly said. "We gave ourselves a chance."

Jennifer Bonilla led the Illini with 27 digs. Hillary Haen had 47 assists and 10 digs.

The Illini return home next weekend to face Purdue and Indiana, which each swept Penn State and Ohio State this weekend.

In women's swimming:

In Champaign, April McKee, Erin Lamb and Cara Chuang each won two events as Illinois opened its season with a 189.5-110.5 win against Nebraska.

"We raced tough and competed," UI coach Sue Novitsky said. "We wanted to focus on the details, because when you do that, things are going to turn out well."

The Illini set the tone early, their 200 medley relay team of Chuang, Corey Kasten, Brittany McGowan and Kristen Manias winning in an ARC pool-record time of 1 minute, 44.88 seconds.

"I thought we had a chance to break the record," Novitsky said. "Cara Chuang got us off to a great start with her leadoff split, and the ball was rolling from there. We put together some solid legs."

Illinois won 13 of 16 events.