Gophers Open Big Ten Play With A Sweep Over No. 20 Illinois
Sept. 21, 2012
The No. 12 University of Minnesota volleyball team opened Big Ten Conference play with a 3-0 win over No. 20 Illinois, tonight, at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill. The Golden Gophers won by scores of 25-17, 25-17 and 25-23 to defeat the Illini for the second straight year on their home court.
Katherine Harms paved the way for the Golden Gophers as she had a match-high 17 kills in 30 attempts (five errors) to hit .400 on the night. Tori Dixon had 11 kills (11-0-16) for a .688 hitting percentage. Ashley Wittman had eight kills. Harms had eight digs, while Lindsey Lawmaster had seven. Alexandra Palmer had a match-high 44 assists in the win.
Trailing 8-7, Minnesota went on a 6-0 en route to a first set 25-17 win. After six ties and three early lead changes, the Gophers had back-to-back kills by Harms, a block by Harms and Dixon, while Illinois had an attack error. Illinois called a timeout, but Minnesota added three points to its lead with a block by Dixon and Harms, a Lawmaster ace and an attack error by Illinois to go up 14-9. The Illini closed the deficit to three on an Anna Dorn kill, but Minnesota maintained control of the set to close it out with a Harms kill. The Gophers had 11 kills and four errors in 24 attempts for a .292 attack percentage. Illinois committed nine errors and hit just .031.
Minnesota would hit .406 in the second set when it capitalized on 14 kills in 32 attempts to win it, 25-17. The last Gopher tie came at 3-3 as Minnesota would jump out to a 12-7 lead after a kill by Wittman and an Illini attack error. As Illinois closed it to 12-10, the Gophers took a timeout and went on a 4-1 run, capped off by a Daly Santana ace. Minnesota would go up, 20-15, on a Harms kill and later 22-16 on a Kalysta White ace. The Gophers would finish the set on a kill by Santana and Harms to go up, 2-0 into intermission.
Minnesota would close out the match with a 25-23 set win over the Illini. Minnesota again hit .406 as Illinois had its best hitting percentage of the match at .462. Dixon led the Gophers in the third set when she had six kills, while Harms had five and Wittman had four. Minnesota held the lead throughout the set, although the two teams tied six times. The Gophers lead at one point, 16-9, only to have the Illni battle back and tie the set at 19-19 and again at 22-22. As Illinois took a timeout, Minnesota had a kill by Dixon, while Illinois had an attack error to go up, 24-22. After Illinois took another timeout, it had a kill by Jocelyn Birks to put the match at 24-23. After a Minnesota timeout, the Gophers had a kill from Dixon to put away the Illini for the set and the match.
Minnesota plays again on Sunday as it travels to Evanston, Ill., and face Northwestern at 1 p.m.