wiThe Minnesota volleyball team (9-7, 2-2) defeated Illinois (11-3, 2- 2) in four games by scores of 30-21, 24-30, 30-21, 30-19 on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Sports Pavilion in front of 3,618 fans. With win Minnesota claims its second straight Big Ten victory evening its conference record to 2-2.
Minnesota claimed an early 13-12 lead in game one, but extended it to 18-12 with a 5-0 run. Illinois cut the lead to 24-20 forcing Minnesota to call a timeout. However, the Golden Gophers exploded with six of the final seven points to claim the first game 30-21. Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) paced Minnesota with five kills, while Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) tallied four kills and two service aces. The Golden Gophers outhit Illinois .359 to .083 in the match.
Illinois jumped out to a slim 13-12 lead in game two. Minnesota tied it at 13, but Illinois rattled off five of the next six points to go up 18-14. The Golden Gophers cut it to 18-15, but did not get any closer the rest of the game as Illinois moved to a 30-24 game two victory. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) paced Minnesota with six kills in the game. However, Illinois outhit the Golden Gophers .273 to .095.
In the third game Illinois jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, but Minnesota answered with a 7-0 run to grab the momentum and take a 10- 7 lead. Illinois scored six of the next eight points to reclaim the lead at 13-12. Minnesota answered again with six of the next nine points to go up 19-15. After Illinois cut the score to 19-17, the Golden Gophers answered with a 9-1 run to go up 28-19. Minnesota continued to roll on to the 30-21 game three victory as it went up 2- 1 in the match. Busse, Bratford and Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) each registered six kills in the game. The Golden Gophers outhit Illinois .298 to .119 in game three.
Minnesota stormed out to a 19-8 lead in game four. The Golden Gophers opened up the lead to 28-15. With the lead at 29-19, Bratford put home the kill to win game four 30-19, and claimed the match.
Martin paced the Golden Gophers with a season-high 22 kills, along with six digs. Bratford tallied 21 kills, five digs and four blocks, while Busse had 19 kills, eight digs, five blocks and three service aces. Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) tallied 58 assists and seven digs in the match. Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had a match-high seven blocks, while Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) tallied a match-high 19 digs. Lisa Reinhart (White Bear Lake, Minn.) also had double-figure digs with 13 in the match .
Minnesota outhit Illinois .290 to .142. The Golden Gophers also had 73 kills to Illinois' 51 in the match, and also outblocked Illinois 11.5 to 4.0.
"I thought we did a good job of putting together runs tonight, while limiting Illinois' chances at big runs," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "We had a great game plan for tonight's match and out players did a great job of executing it against a great team. To hold the conference's leading blocking team to only four blocks tonight was testament to the way we executed."
Illinois was led by Rachel Van Meter who had 17 kills and eight digs. Melissa Vandrey also tallied 12 kills on the night.
Minnesota will head on the road to play a midweek match against Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Golden Gophers will then head to Madison, Wis. to take on Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. in a match that will be telecast live on Fox Sports Net North.