Celebrating her birthday on Sunday is former Illinois volleyball celebrity Colleen Ward Barone. An All-American in every of her two seasons — first-team in 2011 and second-team in 2010 — her efforts helped lead Illinois to the nationwide championship match throughout her senior marketing campaign.

Her title is sprinkled all through Illini volleyball’s report e book and tops the listing for single-match aces (9 vs. BYU in 2010). Now married, she is a vice chairman at Northern Belief in Miami.

The product of Naperville North Excessive Faculty and switch from the College of Florida recalled a number of moments throughout her profession and remembered most of the athletes with whom she performed:

On Illinois ending Penn State’s 65-match Huge Ten successful streak in 2010: “We didn’t let that intimidate us. It actually fed into our aggressive nature.”

On UI’s three-hour, five-set victory at PSU in 2011: “We began our season off actually robust (sixteenth consecutive win in a 20-0 begin). We have been ranked No. 1, however it didn’t really feel like we have been No. 1 at that time as a result of we knew we had the potential to be so significantly better. We knew that we needed to preserve enhancing.”

On dealing with her former teammates, the Florida Gators, within the 2011 NCAA regional finals in Gainesville: “Figuring out that I wished to switch to Illinois, I had the identical actual feeling after we have been watching the (NCAA event) choice present. I simply knew that we have been going to finish up taking part in Florida. As soon as all of it got here to actuality, it was fairly cool to see. I actually don’t keep in mind the video games very properly, different than simply the sensation of taking part in. I just about simply went into my very own little world and centered on taking part in the video games, level to level.”

On Illinois’ legendary match in opposition to Southern California within the 2011 NCAA semifinals: “The coaches did an awesome job of getting ready us for the Last 4. An early loss in one of many video games wasn’t going to scare us. USC got here out to play, and we have been the identical approach. Each level actually mattered. The ultimate level is one thing we’ll all keep in mind perpetually. Very lengthy. Very aggressive. A whole lot of superb saves on each side. That spirit mirrored our staff quite a bit from that season.”

On UI’s loss within the championship match in opposition to UCLA: “Truthfully, I can say going into the ultimate that we did get slightly overwhelmed. We simply bought slightly bit out of our recreation and made extra errors than we usually would, and we weren’t as aggressive as we should always have been.”

Does that loss to UCLA nonetheless linger in her thoughts? “Oh, my God, on a regular basis. As an athlete and as a aggressive individual, I want we might play that once more.”

On coach Kevin Hambly: “He was excellent for our staff, such a personable coach. As soon as each different week every participant would have a gathering with him on their very own. He’d ask how our lessons have been going, how our life was going, or if there was something we wished to speak about. We felt like extra of a household than only a staff. All of our coaches and workers have been a very distinctive group of individuals.”

On teammate Johannah Bangert: “Jo was my host after I first visited Illinois. She was an incredible blocker and held that report at Illinois.”

On teammate Michelle Bartsch: “I’ve too many phrases for Michelle. We’re nonetheless actually shut buddies. I do know that she can be within the Olympics, so I simply can’t wait to observe her.”

On teammate Hillary Haen: “She was one of many smartest setters that I’ve ever performed with. She was only a completely different thoughts on the court docket, all the time considering over issues. She all the time knew the entire statistics going into the sport.”

On teammate Jennifer Beltran: “As a result of I used to be one of many passers, I used to be all the time near Jen and Michelle in that approach. We sort of shaped our personal little staff inside the staff. She was top-of-the-line liberos and one of the vital athletic women I ever performed with.”

On teammate Annie Luhrsen: “I knew her in highschool as a result of we performed in opposition to one another. My senior 12 months was my favourite season and Annie was an enormous a part of that.”

On teammate Anna Dorn: “She was youthful than me, so I sort of took her below my wing. She was very athletic. I actually trusted her to rise up there for a block and to be aggressive. She grew quite a bit as a participant.”

On her most underrated teammate: “I might point out a whole lot of names, however perhaps essentially the most underrated was Rachel Feldman. She was a kind of teammates that didn’t get a whole lot of credit score, however she was usually such an incredible one that bought us out of a whole lot of holes.”

Illini Birthdays:

Sunday: Beth Prince, volleyball (24)

Monday: Pramod Dibir, tennis (36)

Tuesday: Sherri Taylor, softball

Wednesday: Ryan Nelligan, baseball (52)

Thursday: Doug Laz, observe & area (66)

Friday: Del’Shawn Phillips, soccer (24)

Saturday: Jon Davis, observe & area (23)

By Mike Pearson, writer of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Version now available in shops). Get extra Illini birthdays, trivia and historic tidbits every day on Twitter @IlliniLegends and @B1GLLL. His web site is www.SportsLLL.com.

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