30-The No. 21 Minnesota volleyball team needed a late comeback to capture a five-game marathon victory over Illinois in Big Ten action at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday. After taking a 2-0 lead with 30-23 and 30-28 wins in the first two games, Minnesota (10-4, 4-2 Big Ten) came back from a 10-6 deficit in the fifth and deciding game to win the match.
The Gophers turned to freshman outside hitter Erin Martin, who ignited the rally with three straight kills to bring Minnesota to within one point at 10-9. Illinois (8-5, 2-4 Big Ten) scored the next point on a Martin hitting error, but the Gopher rookie made up for her mistake with another kill in the following point. Martin's last kill not only made the score, 11-10 Illinois, it put the ball in the hands of Gopher setter Lindsey Berg on the service line. Berg served the next four points, including one service ace, to give Minnesota match-point opportunities with the score at 14-11. Two Gopher hitting errors brought Illinois back to within 14-13 before a Cassie Bussie cross-court kill on the line ended the match with a 15-13 fifth-game victory.
Minnesota had thoughts of sweeping Illinois until the Illini mounted an impressive comeback in the third game. The Gophers led 27-19 before Illinois outscored Minnesota, 13-1, to extend the match by winning the third game, 30-28. Illiinois? Kathleen Buzzetta served eight straight points in the rally, including three consecutive service aces. Illinois forced the fifth game with a 30-25 victory in game four.
Five Gophers finished in double-digit kills in the match, led by Martin and Busse with a career-high 20 kills apiece. Busse also collected 12 digs to tally her first career double-double. Kathy Tilson added 17 kills, while Bethany Braffrord chipped in 13. Stephanie Hagen also posted a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs. Berg finished the match with 68 assists, 16 digs and five service aces.
The Gophers take to the road next weekend to face two nationally ranked teams, No. 10 Penn State on Friday, Oct. 12, and No. 11 Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 14.