Illini fall to California in volleyball Sweet 16 - KMOV.com

Illini fall to California in volleyball Sweet 16

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (KMOV) -- The Illinois women's volleyball team saw its season come to a close Friday and with it, the Don Hardin era ended as well.

The Illini volleyball coach announced his retirement at the end of the season and the ninth-seeded Fighting Illini lost in straight sets to eighth-seeded California, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22 in the regional semifinal.

The Golden Bears advance to the Elite Eight and (26-6) will take on the top seeded Penn State Nittany Lions, who defeated Western Michigan.

Illinois' (26-8) Laura DeBruler led the team with 18 points and added eight digs. Ashley Edinger tallied 12 digs and Kylie McCulley recorded 11 points.

Calfornia's Tarah Murrey, Am'ra Solomon, Wiley Mindi and Hana Cutura each registered double-digits point totals, and Carli Lloyd, Cutura and Kristen Kathan reached double figures for digs.

The first set featured 13 ties before the Bears broke a 21-all tie to go on a 4-1 run to win the first set.

The second set had five ties, but the Fighting Illini could never fully grasp the momentum and despite getting as close as 23-22, California scored the sets final two points to pull off the victory.

The Illini led for much of the final set, getting off to leads of 9-6, 16-13 and 21-18. But California went on a 7-1 run to end the set, which included Kathan scoring the final three points and the Bears took the game.

"When you get to the end of the road it is really challenging and I will miss that," Hardin said. "I will miss the relationships.

"This has been part of the plan for three or four years now so I am excited for a new direction for me professionally. There are mixed emotions for sure. The thing that gives me a good feeling is players like Laura (DeBruler) and the rest of the younger players returning. I know they will do great things in the future."

Illinois reached the Sweet 16 in 2008 for the first time in five seasons.

In his 21 seasons, Hardin compiled a 426-239 record and went 234-163 at Illinois.

Note: Adam Musto is a journalism student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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